Early Holocene pecan, Carya illinoensis, in the Mississippi River Valley near Muscatine, Iowa
A fossil pecan, Carya illinoensis (Wang.) K. Koch, from floodplain sediments of the Mississippi River near Muscatine, Iowa, was accelerator-dated at 7280 ± 120 yr B.P. This discovery indicates that pecan was at or near its present northern limit by that time. Carya pollen profiles from the Mississippi River Trench indicate that hickory pollen percentages were much higher in the valley than at upland locations during the early Holocene. Pecan, the hickory with the most restricted riparian habitat, is the likely candidate for producing these peaks in Carya pollen percentages. Therefore, pecan may have reached its northern limit as early as 10,300 yr B.P. Its abundance in Early Archaic archaeological sites and the co-occurrence of early Holocene Carya pollen peaks with the arrival of the Dalton artifact complex in the Upper Mississippi Valley suggest that humans may have played a role in the early dispersal of pecan.
Center for Archaeological Research
Bettis III, E. Arthur, Richard G. Baker, Brenda K. Nations, and David W. Benn. "Early Holocene Pecan, Carya illinoensis, in the Mississippi River Valley near Muscatine, Iowa." Quaternary Research 33, no. 1 (1990): 102-107.