HPPR hosts & contributors
Growing on the High Plains Episode
Thu January 3, 2013
Perhaps no plant is more a part of my early childhood than a pecan tree. It brings to mind several family photos in my memory book. The first image is playing under a huge shade tree on a quilt pallet, while the older folks in my family shook the tree and picked up the nuts that fell. They were rewarded with a share of the harvest and a small wage. The second picture is of the whole family gathered around the kitchen table, the room lit by an oil lantern, and we all would work together to separate the meat from the shell. For me, it wasn't really work because we were entertained by stories and songs. The third picture is of an annual Christmas gift- a bag of shelled pecans sent by my cousin who still owns a native grove.
It is those tender memories that give me appreciation of the Texas state tree. The Texas legislature bestowed the official designation in 1919, and Governor James Hogg felt so strongly about this that he wanted one to be planted on his grave site when he died. Texans do have an economic tie to the tree. it's the state with the largest native production in the country, and in high bred or orchard production, it is second only to Georgia.
I have tried the northern variety developed specifically for the colder zones, but they didn't survive, so I'm a bit skeptical about giving them another chance. My favorite type that seems to be flourishing in my orchard is the Papershell. It breaks apart with a squeeze of a hand. My family would say that hard work brings the most deserving reward, but I'm thinking they just didn't want to give up the family gatherings.