© 2024 KRCU Public Radio
90.9 Cape Girardeau | 88.9-HD Ste. Genevieve | 88.7 Poplar Bluff
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Every week there are new marvels to look for in the outdoors, and Discover Nature highlights these attractions. The Missouri Department of Conservation’s Josh Hartwig brings us the stories of river otters, luna moths, red buds, and other actors as they take center stage in nature’s theater.You can hear Discover Nature, Mondays at 7:42 a.m. and 5:18 p.m.Local support for Discover Nature is provided by Laurel Adkisson - American Family Insurance Agent - Cape Girardeau, MO.

Discover Nature: Missouri Nuts

MDC Staff
black walnut

Discover nature this week with Missouri nuts. The beginning of fall is a great time to gather homegrown nuts in Missouri. Our top three featured nuts that fruit in September and October are black walnuts, pecans, and hickory.

Missouri is the world’s top producer of black walnuts, which are used in many baking recipes and are our state tree nut. A green rounded husk about the size of a tennis ball covers the dark nut. The kernel is oily, sweet, and edible. Walnuts are a hard nut to crack, and first-timers will need tips to succeed.

An easier nut to gather is the pecan. It’s naturally splitting husk and thin shell make it easy to gather and process. Pecans are one of the most important cultivated nuts of North America and are tasty in pies.

Just as flavorful as pecans but lesser known are hickory nuts. Missouri has over eight species of hickories and the better tasting nuts come from shellbark, shagbark and mockernut trees. Hickory nuts are an important food for many species of wildlife including squirrels, turkeys, and ducks.

The pecan has been cultivated since 1766, with over 500 horticultural selections made since then to improve hardiness, productivity, and the nuts’ size, flavor, and ease of shelling.

Typically, a southern species, pecan once grew only in the southeastern part of the state. It is thought that Native Americans cultivated this tree farther north and helped spread it. Pecans with large, thin-shelled nuts are now grown in commercial orchards.

Learn more about black walnuts, pecans, and hickory in Missouri at MissouriConservation.org.

Josh Hartwig is the host of Discover Nature and a media specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation.
Related Content
  • Discover Nature this week with garden spiders in Missouri. It’s a shame that Little Miss Muffet was too frightened to meet the spider that sat down beside her. She would have discovered that spiders are exceptional creatures.
  • Discover Nature: Mushrooms in Missouri
    Discover Nature this week with mushrooms in Missouri. As the fall air creeps up, mushrooms begin to make their way to the surface. Although spring is the most popular time for mushroom hunting, other edible mushrooms start to appear in late September.