Native primarily to moist soils in the south-central U.S., Pecans are planted and grown commercially far beyond the natural range. Pecan was unknown to early colonists but was cultivated by Native American Indians long before Europeans settled North America. Extensive commercial pecan plantations are planted for the nuts in the warmer regions. There are a number of named varieties. Like other hickories (Carya species), its wood can be used for smoking meats.