Life Cycle of a Pecan Tree

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These nuts are fresh from a pecan tree.
These nuts are fresh from a pecan tree. (Image: pecans image by Stephen Orsillo from Fotolia.com)

Pecan nuts (which are technically fruits) are noted for their buttery taste and are used in a variety of dishes, particularly desserts. These treats come from pecan trees, which are native to southern states like Texas, Tennessee, Louisiana and Alabama.

Germination

The life cycle of a pecan tree begins with the spreading and germination of seeds. As mature adults, pecan trees will drop thousands of seeds to the ground, which may spread through water, wind or animals. The seeds will drop in the fall, lay dormant through the winter, and then in the spring, after receiving sufficient warmth and rain, the seed will begin the process of growing into a tree.

Rooting

After germination, the seed will sprout a small root or roots, which will then bury into the ground to seek out water. Once it finds water, it will literally "root" itself into the ground and a stem will begin to grow up through the nut casing toward the sun. After a few weeks, the casing will shed from the stem and fall away. The seed has now become what's known as a seedling.

Sprouting

Over the next several years, the baby pecan tree will continue to grow and eventually sprout its leaves. It will grow into a sapling after a few years, and should be about 16 feet tall under ideal conditions by the time it's 10 years old. It will continue to grow until it reaches 66 to 133 feet, though some trees may max out at about 144 feet.

Lifespan and Reproduction

Once the trees reach maturity after about 12 years (depending on the conditions under which they were cultivated), they'll begin producing seeds and start the process all over again. Pecan trees can live for an incredibly long time, with some living for well over 300 years.

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