Juglandaceae (walnut family) Carya

Carya illinoinensis pecan

Eastern North America

A majestic specimen of a tree that is familiar in the southeast but rare in the Bay Area, though the nuts are popular, is growing at the parking lot of Palo Alto’s Lucie Stern Community Center, midway between the Junior Museum and the Lou Henry Hoover Girl Scout House at Rinconada Park. The great, deciduous leaves are over a foot long, composed of 13 or so wellspaced, coarsely toothed leaflets, each with a brief stalk. The bark is dark and corrugated and the imposing trunk is 30 inches in diameter.

Why this impressive native tree is rare here may have to do with the low humidity, but it also appears that inside knowledge is required to establish a tree from seed, which is the recommended method. Another nice pecan grows at 3675 La Calle Court at the corner of Barron Avenue in Palo Alto. A specimen closer to campus at 2344 Hanover Street, Palo Alto, is shorter, having lost its competition with overhead wires. There are other American species of Carya, generally known as hickories.

About this Entry: The main text of this entry is from the book Trees of Stanford and Environs, by Ronald Bracewell, published 2005.