In 2017, Bernard Dalisson, a retired French arborist, launched a project to plant pecan trees across France as a symbol of 240 years of Franco-American friendship. He founded an association, Les pacaniers de Jefferson, to pursue this work. With the Treaty of Paris of February 6, 1778, France recognized the independence of the United States 5 years before it was effective and thus became the first, and oldest, ally of the United States. It was that shared history that led to the outpouring of generosity from American volunteers, women and men, civilians and soldiers, who came to France during WWI and WWII to fight for our freedom. As we neared the centennial of the end of the WWI, we wanted to mark our friendship with a living witness on French soil for future generations.
The idea of planting pecan trees was born of a specific tree which stands 30 meters high and 4.5 meters around at the Chateau Carbonnieux near Bordeaux. It is known as the « Jefferson Pecan » and is linked to the visit of Thomas Jefferson late May 1787. His correspondence from the years 1785-1786 contained several requests to his friends to send him very fresh pecans « not for eating, but for planting ».
Since 2017, and with the support of the American Embassy in France, we have planted 55 pecan trees across France in locations with symbolic importance to the United States from the American Revolution up to WWII. We have also established contacts with American producers of pecan nuts and the Noble Research Institute in Oklahoma, which sent a scientist in early May 2019 to identify the five old pecan trees around Bordeaux, all 185 to 250 years old, one of which has a clear link to Thomas Jefferson, and another to the family of Paul Revere. You can find the stories and pictures of these old trees here and here.
We are currently requesting an official denomination of the pecan tree as the symbol of Franco-American amity, and we’re still planting trees. We hope to reach 70 young pecans planted in France by 2021 in time for the celebration of the centennial of the American Music Conservatory at the Chateau de Fontainebleau outside Paris.
The map below shows all the trees planted to date as well as planned plantings across the country and older pecan trees in France. Click on any tree for details about the precise location, planting date, and symbolic importance of the tree.
older pecan trees