Written in a manner suitable for a popular audience and including color photographs and recipes for some common uses of the nut, Pecan: America’s Native Nut Tree gathers scientific, historical, and anecdotal information to present a comprehensive view of the largely unknown story of the pecan. From the first written record of it made by the Spaniard Cabeza de Vaca in 1528 to its nineteenth-century domestication and its current development into a multimillion dollar crop, the pecan tree has been broadly appreciated for its nutritious nuts and its beautiful wood. In Pecan: America’s Native Nut Tree, Lenny Wells explores the rich and fascinating story of one of North America’s few native crops, long an iconic staple of southern foods and landscapes. Fueled largely by a booming international interest in the pecan, new discoveries about the remarkable health benefits of the nut, and a renewed enthusiasm for the crop in the United States, the pecan is currently experiencing a renaissance with the revitalization of America’s pecan industry. The crop’s transformation into a vital component of the US agricultural economy has taken many surprising and serendipitous twists along the way. Following the ravages of cotton farming, the pecan tree and its orchard ecosystem helped to heal the rural southern landscape. Today, pecan production offers a unique form of agriculture that can enhance biodiversity and protect the soil in a sustainable and productive manner. Among the many colorful anecdotes that make the book fascinating reading are the story of Andre Penicaut’s introduction of the pecan to Europe, the development of a Latin name based on historical descriptions of the same plant over time, the use of explosives in planting orchard trees, the accidental discovery of zinc as an important micronutrient, and the birth of “kudzu clubs” in the 1940s promoting the weed as a cover crop in pecan orchards.
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