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Carya illinoinensis 'Sumner'

Common Name(s):

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

'Sumner' pecan is a cultivar of Hardy pecan, Carya illinoinensis, a shade tree in the Juglandaceae (walnut) family. 'Sumner' pecan is a recommended cultivar for the southeast United States. It is a heavy bearing tree with good resistance to scab, but susceptible to black aphid. It is a Type II pecan. 'Sumner' was a seedling discovered in Tifton, GA in around 1932 by Walter Sumner. Common characteristics as well as DNA evidence suggest that the  'Schley' cultivar may be a parent of 'Sumner'. 'Sumner' can be somewhat slow to come into bearing, but mature trees have fairly regular production of relatively large nuts, 54 nuts per pound, of moderate quality. The average harvest date tends to be late in the season.

'Sumner' pecan trees grow best in full sun and loamy, well drained soil with a PH of 6.0 to 6.5, but it will tolerate clay and sand as long as they are well drained. It has high drought tolerance. Learn more about selection, planting, and care of pecan trees.

Pecan trees can reach up to 130 feet in height but will usually grow 70 to 100 feet tall with a spread of 40 to 75 feet. The largest of the hickories, this deciduous tree has a uniform, symmetrical, broadly oval crown and is massively-branched. Large major limbs grow up and out from the trunk in a distinctive upright, spreading fashion. On older trees, lower branches become wide-sweeping, with their tips almost touching the ground. Trunks can grow to 6 feet in diameter. 

Pollination is the second most important factor in purchasing pecan trees. Pecan trees are monoecious: they have separate male and female flowers on the same tree. Pollen is not released when flowers are receptive, so pollination within and between the same cultivars is limited. Cultivars are separated into type I and type II for pollination purposes. For optimum pollination, NC State Extension recommends planting at least three cultivars with at least one of each pollination type for best cross-pollination. All cultivars have positive and negative attributes, so do your research before purchasing.

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 with its large mature size in mind. You can grow it from seed, but it will take the better part of a decade before the tree produces a significant crop. 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: 

This tree is susceptible to wind damage.  

 

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#drought tolerant#large tree#edible nuts#nuts#food source wildlife#cpp#buffer#screening#wind pollinated#clay soils tolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#shade tree#drought tolerant#large tree#edible nuts#nuts#food source wildlife#cpp#buffer#screening#wind pollinated#clay soils tolerant
  • 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
    Edibility:
    It produces a large-sized nut with good kernel quality. Ripens in late season.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 70 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:
    Erect
    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:
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    more than 60 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Cream/Tan
    Green
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Nut
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Width:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    It produces a large-sized nut in a cluster of 4 with good kernel quality. Ripens in late season.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Insignificant, monoecious, appear April-May. Male flowers are 4"-long yellow-green catkins, female flowers are shorter spikes.
  • 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:
    Alternate, medium green, 4 to 8 inch pinnately compound leaf with 9 to 17 leaflets; yellow fall color. Leaflets are lanceolate with serrate margins. Midrib of leaf and leaflets may be slightly curved. Fewer and longer leaflets than black walnut.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Gray
    Surface/Attachment:
    Furrowed
    Bark Plate Shape:
    Rectangle
    Bark Description:
    Grey-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 shallow leaf scar.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Recreational Play Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Edible Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
    Attracts:
    Moths
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Problems:
    Messy