The shucks are splitting on my pecan tree and Ive been removing the nuts as soon as possible to get them before the squirrels and crows. However now my hands are stained a blackish brown color. Do you know any cleaner that will remove the stains?

Charles J. Graham, Bollich, Patricia A.  |  8/23/2006 8:15:32 PM

Congratulations! The fact that you have stained hands is a good sign because it means you have a crop of pecans this year. Not everyone is so lucky. The down side is there is nothing you can wash your hands with to remove the stains. 

Pecan shucks contain high concentrations of phenolics and tannins, which are released with the sap when you compress the shucks to remove the pecan nut. These are absorbed into your skin, sometimes two or three skin layers deep. The sap is initially yellow when it stains your skin but oxidizes to a dark brown or black. 

Washing with an abrasive cleaner such as Lava soap or Comet will remove some of the stain. One of the most effective things you can do is work with the dirt in your flower beds or play with your kids in the sand box. The abrasive action of the soil wears off the stained skin more rapidly than normal household chores. The stain will usually disappear in 1-2 weeks.

Question answered by Dr. Charles Graham, Pecan Research-Extension Station horticulturist.

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