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Cape Fear Pecan Carya illinoinensis 'Cape Fear'

Phonetic Spelling
KAIR-yuh il-ih-noy-NEN-sis
Description

'Cape Fear', a cultivar of the Carya illinoinensis pecan tree originated by Dr.Smit at Willard Horticultural Department, North Carolina State University.  This familiar cultivar is an open-pollinated seedling derived from the cultivar 'Schley'.  It is grown mostly for its delicious edible nuts with golden kernals that appear in the summer after an insignificant bloom.

'Cape Fear' is a large shade tree growing 60 to 40 feet tall with a spread of 40 to 75 feet. This deciduous tree has a medium texture and spreading form. It was bred to have moderate disease resistance to pecan scab. As a mature tree, it may need selective pruning to maintain nut quality.

'Cape Fear' grows best in full sun. It tolerates clay, sand, and loam soils—neutral to acidic—as long as they are well drained. It has high drought tolerance once established. Learn more about selection, planting, and care of pecan trees.

It is protandrous and precocious, requires two cultivars for pollinating, like 'Stuart' or 'Elliot'. It has an excellent character of resisting diseases like scab but is susceptible to bacterial leaf scorch.  It also produces high-quality pecans though the production is not as consistent as other cultivars.. 

Nut production can be reduced in the northern part of its growing range, especially when spring is late and the summer is cool. It can be difficult to transplant due to a deep taproot, so choose your planting location wisely and keep its large mature size in mind. Pecans tolerate being planted near black walnut trees. This tree requires a medium amount of maintenance. 

Due to its size, this is a tree most appropriate for a large property. It makes a good shade tree in a naturalized, woodland, or recreational area and as part of a children’s, edible, or pollinator garden.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Leaves are alternate, pinnately compound
  • Leaflets are falcate, crenate

Insect, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Aphids, pecan weevils, stink bugs, twig girdlers, and fall webworms can cause some issues. Bacterial leaf scorch, powdery mildew, peach leaf curl, fire blight, brown rot, bacterial spot, and cedar apple rust. Scab can infect both nuts and foliage, but scab-resistant cultivars are available. Pecans are known for their brittle branches prone to breakage, especially in wind, and late frosts can reduce nut production.  Dropped nuts can be messy on hardscaped surfaces.

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, and Nuts" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

More information on Carya illinoinensis.

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Tags:
#deciduous#shade tree#full sun tolerant#large tree#edible nuts#small mammals#disease resistant#food source wildlife#messy#cpp#nighttime garden#children's garden#edible fruits#pollinator plant#bird friendly#moth larvae#recreational areas#wind damage prone#woodland garden#hickory horndevil moth
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#shade tree#full sun tolerant#large tree#edible nuts#small mammals#disease resistant#food source wildlife#messy#cpp#nighttime garden#children's garden#edible fruits#pollinator plant#bird friendly#moth larvae#recreational areas#wind damage prone#woodland garden#hickory horndevil moth
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Carya
    Species:
    illinoinensis
    Family:
    Juglandaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Wildlife Value:
    Fruits feed small mammals and some birds. Larval host plant to the Luna moth. This plant supports Hickory Horndevil (Citheronia regalis) larvae which have one brood and appear from May to mid-September. Adult Hickory Horndevil moths do not feed.
    Play Value:
    Buffer
    Edible fruit
    Screening
    Shade
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wind Break
    Edibility:
    Nuts are edible. The seeds of pecan are crunchy and have a buttery flavor. Great for eating fresh and for cooking or dessert.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 65 ft. 0 in. - 100 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 40 ft. 0 in. - 75 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Oval
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Nut
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    It produces a typically 7.5-8.2 g nut in a cluster of 4 with oval to oblong pecan husk, with 55% golden colored kernel.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    The tree is protandrous and male flowers mature first. Male flowers are green catkins that are most noticeable.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Smooth
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Compound (Pinnately , Bipinnately, Palmately)
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Lanceolate
    Leaf Margin:
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    The green leaves are alternate and pinnate with 9-17 slightly curved leaflets.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Dark Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Furrowed
    Bark Plate Shape:
    Rectangle
    Bark Description:
    Gray-brown bark and rectangular furrows.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Bud Scales:
    No scales, covered in hair
    Stem Leaf Scar Shape:
    Encircles a bud
    Stem Lenticels:
    Conspicuous
    Stem Description:
    Grey-brown stems, raised lenticels, and pubescent buds in a U-shaped, usually shallow, leaf scar.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Edible Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
    Attracts:
    Moths
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Diseases
    Problems:
    Messy