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 fairly 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.
To learn more about pecans, visit the MDC’s Field Guide.
Learn more about native edibles and walnut harvesting tips in this Missouri Conservationist article.