Pecan trees are now leafing out and producing their flowers in the hills and valleys of Itawamba County. This tree is one of the late trees to leaf-out during the Spring season and during the olden days, it was said anything is safe to plant while the pecan is leafing-out.
A species of hickory and a native to the south-central United States, pecans first became known to Europeans during the 16th Century when the Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca was the first to write about this tree. It was the Spaniards who brought the pecan to Europe.
The nuts of the pecan tree have a rich buttery flavor and are especially suited for desserts. There is no better treat than a warm slice of golden home-baked Mississippi pecan pie with a scoop of ice cold vanilla ice cream. And then down New Orleans way we have the rich and tasty culinary treasure called the praline.
Besides the tasty pecan nut, the wood of the tree is used in making furniture, hardwood flooring and as a flavoring fuel for smoking meats.
April is National Pecan Month. Take time to celebrate this All-American treat by visiting the National Pecan Shellers Association website. They have a wonderful history of the pecan, tasty recipes and so much more – all devoted to the great American pecan.
Photograph: Pecan catkins (male flowers) and foliage during late April in Itawamba County by Bob Franks