Walnut vs. pecan?

Asked November 10, 2013, 2:51 PM EST

I can't tell the difference between a black walnut and a pecan tree when they have no nuts. Please help.

Bell County Texas

1 Response

Pecan and walnut trees can in fact look similar. They both have pinnately compound leaves. Walnut leaves typically have more leaflets (as many as 21 or 22 vs. 14 to 17 on pecan trees). Bark and tree form (height, spread) can likewise be similar.

If you don't have old fruit under the tree to look at and you need to be sure, slice through a small twig or branch length-wise. Walnut trees differ from pecan trees and other hickories in that they have chambered pith. The central pith will appear to be segmented with chambers for walnuts, but in pecan and other hickories, the pith tissue will be continuous--no segments.