Pecans are the only indigenous nut to North America. They were enjoyed by Native Americans for many generations before early settlers arrived to this land.
These hunter/gathers would return each year to the native pecan trees found along the creeks and rivers around central Texas. Are pecan native to Texas? Not only did the pecans serve as a valuable protein source during the fall and winter months, but the native pecans also brought in deer, squirrels and turkey for Indians to hunt. In order to mark the location of the selected camp sites, these tribes would take a sapling pecan tree and bend it towards the ground and stake it down so the tree would grow horizontal with the ground. The years following would serve as an excellent landmark for them to find their location upon returning. These giant native trees can still be found today and serve as a reminder of our historic past.
How Native Pecans Spread Throughout Texas
Native trees grow naturally along the river banks on our farm. We are blessed to have this naturally occurring tree on our property. Originally these seeds would have been spread by spring floods or carried by animals such as squirrels or raccoons to their new forever home. But that would, of course, rest on the assumption that they weren't eaten! What do pecans taste like?
The San Saba and Colordao Rivers were prone to floods when flash floods came. This changed in the 1930's -1950's when the Soil and Water Conservation District constructed Flood Control Structures. These man-made lakes helped slow the flows into the tributaries and streams. While it has allowed us not to have as many floods, we do not see the amount on new native seedling trees or wild populations of pecan trees.
These overflows not only helped spread the pecans to their new destination, but the flood waters brought in new nutrient rich soil for the pecans to thrive on. It was uncommon to have several floods during the summer months. As evidenced by tree rings on old native trees, rainfall was prevalent during the growing seasons in the 1800s.
What made this area prosper with pecans. While the last Indian raids happened on the San Saba River in 1865, it was still a wild and woolly place when the commercial pecan industry was born.