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12 Different Types of Pecans

Discover a renewed appreciation for pecans by getting to know the different types of pecans that are originally grown in the United States and available for commercial use.

Various kinds of pecans on a rustic wooden table.

Pecans are edible nuts native to North America and Mexico with origins tracing back to the 16th century. It got its name from a Native American word of Algonquin origin and was used to refer to all nuts requiring a stone to crack. They were widely used by native and colonial Americans but were not commercially grown until the 1880s.

The United States is responsible for 80 percent of the world’s production of pecan crop. The world’s pecan capital is Albany, Georgia with more than 600, 000 pecan trees. Outside the U.S., pecans are grown in Mexico, Peru, Brazil, Australia, China, Israel, and South Africa.

Related: Peanuts | Pine Nuts | Chestnuts | Macadamia Nuts | Types of Nuts

Pecans Nutrition Facts Chart

Pecans Nutrition Facts Chart

Now let’s jump into your pecans options.

1. Candy Pecans

Candy pecans

This is an older variety of pecans and is so named because it was intended for them to be used in sweet treats. However, they are also perfect for cooking and baking, and even eating them right out of your hands. Like most pecan trees, they do best in zones six to nine, and they are a medium-size nut that produces rapidly.

2. Cape Fear Pecans

Cape Fear pecans

Originating in North Carolina, the Cape Fear pecans usually weigh about 8 grams, which means roughly 58 pecans come in one pound. They start bearing at a young age, and the kernel is attractive and light-colored.

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They are either oblong or broad oval in shape and have a medium-thin thickness. Cape Fear pecans are fairly resistant to various leaf diseases, and they grow best in zones six to nine. Furthermore, two types of pecans – the Elliott and the Stuart – are pollinizers for the Cape Fear pecan tree and vice versa. The trees themselves are sturdy and rigorous, and they have deep taproots.

3. Curtis Pecans

Curtis pecans in a tree.

A late-season pollinizer, these trees produce large quantities of the pecan, which is small, has a medium-thin shell, and contains dark speckles on the shell. Since it requires heat to grow best, it is recommended for zones six to nine and does especially well in the South. The tree is fairly vigorous and upright, and it is fairly resistant to leaf diseases and pecan scab.

4. Desirable Pecans

Desirable pecans

When it comes to top-of-the-line pecans, you can’t get any better than Desirable pecans. They have medium to thick shells and a very large, well-filled nut. If you look at half of a Desirable pecan, you’ll likely be impressed with its size, and if you’re a pecan lover, this is what you want. Their shells are relatively soft, and they are medium-large in size.

In fact, in the Southeastern part of the United States, this type of pecan sets the standard for pecans. The trees themselves are very large, and the nuts ripen from October 25 to November 10. They do not like overly dry conditions and do best when grown in zones six to nine. Indeed, they are a high-quality nut.

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5. Hican Pecans

These trees are a mix of the hickory and Mahan pecans, but they are more tolerant of the cold than other types of pecan trees. The pecans have an elegant flavor, tasting like 80% hickory and 20% pecan, but they are similar to other northern pecans. In fact, Hican pecans are highly prized because they are very rare, and the trees can pollinate with both hickory trees and pecan trees.

6. Mahan Pecans

Mahan pecan tarts

These pecans are soft-shelled, rich in flavor, and have nuts that are very large. Even when the tree is young, it will bear lots of pecans, and it also provides shade for your yard. These pecans prefer dry climates and winters that are warm, and they usually ripen November 10th through the 25th.

7. Moreland Pecans

Moreland pecans

The Moreland pecan tree is very resistant to diseases and produces high yields on a regular basis. They originated from Louisiana, and they are fairly vigorous trees that have dense leaves and nuts. Roughly 55 of these nuts fit in one pound.

They are best if grown in zones six to nine, Moreland pecan trees can be pollinated by the Desirable pecan tree, which helps them produce the medium-thick shells and delicious nuts that are so popular nowadays.

8. Osage Pecans

These trees were specifically made for the northern part of the United States, and they have small to medium nuts that are high in quality and have an oval-elliptical shape. The trees are very resistant to diseases and ripen from early- to mid-September.

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They are very similar to the Elliott pecans, in that it has great oil content, tastes delicious, and make perfect halves. Since pecan production is limited in the northern states, this is a perfect choice if you live up north and wish to plant a pecan tree.

9. Paper-Shell Pecans

Paper-shell pecans spilled from a brown paper bag.

The biggest advantage to these types of pecans is the fact that their shells are paper-thin, which means anyone can open them. Often used to bake pecan pies, their taste is a bit sweeter than other types of pecans, and they get their shells that way because of how they are cultivated. Their shell is ultra-thin and can be cracked open without the use of a nutcracker, making them perfect for the elderly, people with dexterity problems, and even small children. They are a true gem.

10. Pawnee Pecans

If you want to plant a pecan tree, but you have limited space or a small yard, the Pawnee pecan tree might be for you. It is relatively small, only 30 feet tall and 30 feet wide, and it grows from Georgia to Texas. An excellent pollinator, the Pawnee pecans are very large and very sweet. They are also considered a type of paper-shell pecans, making them easy to crack open and even easier to eat.

11. Stuart Pecans

Stuart pecans are large, though not as large as the Desirable pecans. Stuart pecans are some of the most common types of pecans, and they should be grown in zones six to nine. The trees are upright and sturdy, and they are mostly found in the Southeastern part of the United States.

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They are also very low-maintenance trees when compared to other pecan trees, and they are late-season pollinators, which means it is best if they are planted with an early-season pollinator. Their medium-size nuts produce roughly 52 nuts per pound, but one of their disadvantages is that it takes 8-10 years before the tree is of bearing age.

12. Summer Pecans

Originating in Southern Georgia, this tree is a late-season pollinizer and produces very large nuts that fit approximately 48 nuts per pound. The kernels are sometimes darker than other types of pecans, but it is a high quality, very tasty pecan. Summer pecan trees are perfect for planting in the yard, especially if you live in zones six to nine, although many people think they are only for commercial growth.