The Q&A Archives: Identifying Pecan Saplings

Question: We have a native grove of very old and tall pecan trees on our property. Before we mow this very wild field, we wanted to look for new pecan saplings that have started so we can get some new trees. Do you have ideas on Internet/other resources for identifying saplings? A lot of them look similar, and we're not exactly sure when leaves start to "specialize" and look like full-grown leaves, if that makes sense.

Thanks very much in advance!

Answer: Pecans, like many fruit and nut trees, are usually propagated by some type of grafting, rather than by seed. If you are hoping for superior quality, thin-shelled nuts, you may want to stick with purchased seedlings. However, if you simply want decorative trees, those seedlings should be fine. One thing to note is that pecans develop deep taproots, and are difficult to transplant. If you do decide to transplant, dig deep planting holes and disturb the roots as little as possible.

Offhand, I don't know of any place to see photos of pecan saplings. However pecans, like other members of the walnut family, have pinnately compound leaves--each "leaf" is actually composed of a long leafstalk with a number of leaflets positioned along it. The leaflets are tapered at the tip, and the edges are finely saw-toothed.

Hope this helps.

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