The Bitter Pecan-Fastest Growing of all Pecan and Hickory Hybrids
Lecont hickan is a natural hybrid found in the southern part of the U.S. combining both pecan and water hickory. As you see the nuts are intermediate between the parent trees. The nuts are bitter in taste but rich in oil much like bitternut hickories in Michigan. Despite being a southern tree, we have found many of the seedlings from this population to be fully hardy as well as super vigorous in our zone 5. We started out planting this tree about 20 years ago and some are now over 25 ft. tall and growing fine in our dry soil as well as our low frost pocket areas. The minus 20F has not damaged them. This is the fastest growing hickory we have grown. Some of the seedlings grew 3 feet in one season and a few topped the 5 ft. mark in one year. For a hickory that might be a world record.
“Bitter Pecan” is the other common name of this plant and it was used for cabinetry and flooring. It is one of those unsung heroes of the hickory genus and because of its hybrid nature, it may have an almost species status as some of the seedlings take on characteristics of their own which hold true from generation to generation. Despite its taproot, it does transplant well and responds to a variety of soils and climates.
Lecont hickan seeds are hard to come by and each batch we get can be different. Some are large with thick shells, others are small with rough shells showing more of the nature of water hickory. Our 2020-21 crop is made up of the fastest growing individuals that we have found yet. They have also weathered two -15 F without a problem.
|Genus & Species
||Carya lecontei ( illinoensis x aquatica )
||Georgia and Louisiana
||-15 F to -20F
||Probably self fertile to some extent but best to plant two for overlapping flowering. Might cross with pecan but hard to say with certainty.
||Very adaptable-wet or dry.
||Zones 5ish to 9.
|Ease of Cultivation
||Tap rooted. Once transplanted and gets established in the first year, able to tolerate drought. Like pecan easy to transplant at a young age from pots. Anyone can grow this tree, but fruiting may take 15 years from seedling. it is a good species for wet soils and can withstand high water tables. This hybrid is probably grown more for its growth rate than nut production as the nuts are high in oil but very bitter like bitternut hickory.