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Understory Forest Conversion Plantings

 
pollinator
Posts: 180
Location: Zone 7a, 42", Fairfax VA Piedmont (clay, acidic, shady)
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I'm looking for fruit/nut tree recommendations that can grow in the understory (with mottled light) of a 40-year old piedmont second-growth forest in Virginian clay (mature oaks, mid-sized maples, poplars, hickories, beeches, sweetgum, hollies), ranging from wetland to rocky ridges over two acres.  I'm trying to coppice and hinge-cut small (under 6 inch diameter) trees for deer browse/cover and partial canopy opening; then I'd plant small trees, and eventually remove the mid-size non food trees or girdle them to create snags.  Of course, I wouldn't touch the mature Oaks or hickories.

Looking at Paw-Paws for wetland area, Chinese Chestnuts, and potentially Persimmons and wild plums.  Prefer planting cheap stuff from the VA state forestry (http://www.dof.virginia.gov/nursery/index.htm).  I'd like to get bamboo established too, but that can be hard to do without access to irrigation and in the understory.
 
gardener
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Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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What you will want are termed "understory trees", and the ones you mention looking at are the main ones that will work.
Having looked at the catalog from the link you provided, the only fruit tree they seem to have is a plum.
Depending on how deep the shade is, mulberry might also work for you. (it likes at least 1/2 day of sunlight as do plums and persimmons)
Chestnut trees are usually found in areas of more sun than shade all day long.
 
Josh Garbo
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Location: Zone 7a, 42", Fairfax VA Piedmont (clay, acidic, shady)
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Thanks, Dr R.  I plan on eventually learning how to graft, to cultivate more productive varieties on the established trees.  I'll put my chestnuts and apples in cleared areas with more light.

The state forestry should also have paw-paws, pears, and persimmons (better link: https://buyvatrees.com/shop-all/hardwood-species/fruit-bearing/)
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Location: Arkansas - Zone 7B/8A stoney, sandy loam soil pH 6.5
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Sweet!,  pawpaw and American persimmon do well in all but deep shade.
 
Josh Garbo
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Location: Zone 7a, 42", Fairfax VA Piedmont (clay, acidic, shady)
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What about blight-resistant hazelnuts as an understory addition to a fairly mature forest (dappled shade)?  I should also caveat that I don't have persistent access to this area and can't really irrigate, mulch, or fertilize.  I can take small amounts of the forest soil and do limited coppicing with hand tools.  So I'm sort of at the level of Native American permaculture (minus the fire).
 
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