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Permaculture, Top Ten Deciduous Trees?  RSS feed

 
Scott Foster
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I have planted out quite a few trees and I'm running out of ideas for 6A.   

I'm looking to fill in the back of my lot with deciduous trees.  I already have some white pines but they are spread pretty thin.  The back lot is about an acre, would love to fill it in with some useful trees.

If you can't think of ten trees just give me a couple, and tell me why you like them.  I'd like to plant trees that have at least three obvious uses.


I'm hoping this sparks a discussion.

Thanks in advance!

Kind Regards, Scott
 
Skandi Rogers
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Not sure all of these would be hardy with you but..

Hawthorn; A small tree, leaves berries and flowers are edible. produces a good burning wood. Tolerant of high wind and damp.
Wild: cherries medium sized tree, produces berries but normaly only for the birds. good pretty wood.
Birch; medium tree, usefull for brooms and the sap can be tapped like a maple.
Oaks; large trees, acorns are edible after processing, make good pig feed, and can be used as a source of tannin.
Apples; medium tree Plant some on non dwarfing stock
Plums; medium tree Any of the smaller fruited plums
Mountain ash/rowan; Small tree eddible berries
Hazel nuts small tree, can be coppiced for firewood, hurdles baskest etc, and provides tasty nuts.
Elder Small tree Flowers and fruit.
Seabuckthorn Small tree/bush Fruit and a good set of spines!

None of thoseexcept for the oaks are particularly long lived (so you might want to add some Ash and other longer lived trees for the future
 
Scott Foster
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Skandi Rogers wrote:Not sure all of these would be hardy with you but..

Hawthorn; A small tree, leaves berries and flowers are edible. produces a good burning wood. Tolerant of high wind and damp.
Wild: cherries medium sized tree, produces berries but normaly only for the birds. good pretty wood.
Birch; medium tree, usefull for brooms and the sap can be tapped like a maple.
Oaks; large trees, acorns are edible after processing, make good pig feed, and can be used as a source of tannin.
Apples; medium tree Plant some on non dwarfing stock
Plums; medium tree Any of the smaller fruited plums
Mountain ash/rowan; Small tree eddible berries
Hazel nuts small tree, can be coppiced for firewood, hurdles baskest etc, and provides tasty nuts.
Elder Small tree Flowers and fruit.
Seabuckthorn Small tree/bush Fruit and a good set of spines!

None of thoseexcept for the oaks are particularly long lived (so you might want to add some Ash and other longer lived trees for the future


Some great ideas Skandi.  I don't have Hawthorn, Elder or Ash.  I will definitely do some research on these.  In this area of the forest, I have white pines I planted. They are about 5ft tall now, the oldest known white pine in the U.S. is 458 years old and 100 ft tall.  It's possible that they won't make it that far as we have the white pine fly.   
 
Alder Burns
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More detail as to your location would be helpful.  Zone 6A in say, Ohio, is a pretty different climate than 6A in Washington or Utah.
In any case I have not seen chestnuts mentioned.  They are a premier human and animal food tree wherever they grow, and Asian and hybrid varieties will thrive in the East, as well as the irrigated West, along with pure Americans where introduced in the West....
 
Scott Foster
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Alder Burns wrote:More detail as to your location would be helpful.  Zone 6A in say, Ohio, is a pretty different climate than 6A in Washington or Utah.
In any case I have not seen chestnuts mentioned.  They are a premier human and animal food tree wherever they grow, and Asian and hybrid varieties will thrive in the East, as well as the irrigated West, along with pure Americans where introduced in the West....


I'm in N.E. NJ  I planted three tiny Chinese Chestnuts.  I planted them this year so they are still tiny, and I mean twig like.
 
Gifford Pinchot
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How about shagbark hickory? I've never been a huge hickory fan but they are growing on me.

Nut tree has tasty nut for you to eat.

Hard mast (nuts) improve food sources for wildlife.

Wood burns great.

Wood make for excellent tool handles.

I've heard of people making some sort of syrup out of it, the bark i think.

Wood chips are great to add to the BBQ for hickory smoking.


I'd avoid Ash in the Northeast, Emerald ash borer, a fatally damging pest of ash, is either here or on its way depending on exactly where you are.
 
Ken W Wilson
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Hickories are my favorite nut. Pecans are great too.
 
Jese Anderson
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If I were shooting for some type of "food Forrest" outside of your typical fruit trees then I'd go with:

Sugar Maple (it will take a few years but they are quick growers). Use - tap them and make syrup.

Persimmon - honey bees love the blooms and the fruits are a tasty treat for both wildlife and humans (make sure they are ripe otherwise it's like eating alum). I have one 70ft tall persimmon in my yard, in the spring/early summer it puts off a steady "hum" from the thousands upon thousands of honey bees dining at the blooms...it's really remarkable (I have a few hives and closest neighbor 3/4 a mile away has 20 hives or so).

Chestnut - there is no beating the taste of chestnuts.

Sumac - Please note there is a poisonous version(s) and an edible version(s). Berries are used in cooking and to make mead and wine.

White Willow - Plant in wet spot.  Bark is an anti inflammatory and also can be used as an aspirin substitute.

White Oak - Acorns are a favorite of wildlife and native Americans processed them into flour and used for bread making.

Mulberry - Had a 25ft tree at old house I use to own - Talk about edible berry production.  It was pretty much impossible for me to scratch the surface in harvesting all the berries on a single tree- simply amazing production and tasty to boot.




 
Paul Lutz
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I am a huge fan of Shagbark Hickory and Black Walnut. Good food and good wood in both. However... Shagbark you plant for your children and black walnut is anti other plants but bears in a reasonable amount of time. Both thrive where I am (near Stroudsburg PA). Pignut Hickory is faster growing and easier to shell and also tasty.

My favorite fruit trees are my Asian pears. Fast growers and huge yields with no pests/diseases/etc. Even the deer ignore them. I have two trees with 8" and 6" trunks and my 6 kids eat less than half the fruit. They eat perhaps 1000 pieces of fruit over about two months. (They were also the only thing that produced last year due to a late frost)

Persimmon is now my favorite fruit. I mow short under the tree and only eat what falls. This eliminates the issues that unripe fruit have. Another pest and disease free tree. In theory the wood has uses, but I will never cut down a persimmon. (The turkey come and frollic under them as well)

I second the mulberry suggestion though I don't have any yet. My plan is Illinois everbearing. Maple is always a good idea. Syrup and lumber. Oak for wood and acorns.

I have many apple trees but I don't have fruit without lots of chemicals due to Apple cedar rust. If you are avoiding chemicals and have cedar around, apples might fail.

Something to consider: If you are sort of building a forest from scratch, then intentionally adding pioneer species is a thought. There is a dogwood with edible fruit and pink flowers for example.

Plant something to bait the Japanese beetles away from things.
 
David Livingston
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Walnuts Persian
Medlar
plus most of those mentioned above

David
 
Skandi Rogers
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Sorry slight tangent here. to those of you with persimon, how much heat do they need, For example while chestnut trees can grow here (denmark 7b) They do not produce fruit it isn't warm enough in summer. Walnuts do
.
 
Chris Kott
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Mulberry trees are great. They bloom and fruit for something like three months in the year, and they're understory trees. And mulberries are delicious.

Hazelnut is about the only nut tree to do well in the shade, meaning you can have two choices of nut tree instead of just one.

black locust is nitrogen fixing and the wood has numerous uses where antifungal properties are a benefit, and it burns well too.

Sugar maples can be tapped to make maple syrup, and they act as hydrological pumps, bringing water up from lower in the soil strata for use by plants around them. And they're understory trees.

Some say the Siberian Pea Shrub, or the Russian Olive, should make this list for nitrogen fixation, and maybe if you can't grow black locust, okay.

Pretty much whatever the natural overstory nut tree in your area, probably chestnut. If it is chestnut, they were apparently great lumber trees, too.

Black walnut gets complicated by its allelopathy (it kills off most things that aren't it), so the list of things you can grow in a guild with it is pretty limited. Still, some would choose it, but I think I would go with whatever the local large oak is instead, maybe see if it has a symbiotically compatible chanterelle variety to go with it.

Many alder species are really awesome at soil building, preferring nutrient depleted mineral soil so much that when they enrich the soil they grew in enough, they die.

Going a bit far afield, but perhaps avocadoes? Olives? They'd necessarily be incorporated into a whole permaculture system, but there's a lot to be said for perennial plant-derived essential fats.

Honestly, I think all of the trees on this list could be used poorly, which is why I believe the question to be flawed. It is too simple. It is not simply the choice of tree, but the way the different pieces of the system interact in whatever specific situation they are employed. Does everything work together? Is everything well-suited to where I am trying to grow it? Could I make a different choice and make everything work easier or more naturally, or with less input from humans?

-CK
 
Marcus Billings
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Hi Scott,

I'm in the same zone as you.   I can give you a summary of what grows wild and performs well and then give you a list of what I've planted that seems to be doing good.

Around here I've found thriving oaks, hickory, chestnut (chinese), black walnut, wild cherry, pawpaw, sassafras, sumac (although I hesitate to call it a tree), beech, hazelnuts, willow, pear, and apple.  Now, I believe you used the word useful, which is subjective, but if I had to guess, I'd assume that you're looking for trees that provide some sort of produce rather than lumber?  Although hickory, black (or almost any species) walnut, and oak trees do give harvests, they are primarily used for their lumber and all of them are slow to mature.  As was pointed out, your grand-kids might appreciate some of those varieties, but you won't see much benefit during your lifetime.

For my part, I've put in hybrid chestnuts and they seem to grow relatively fast and start producing faster than any native nut tree I've seen.  The hybrids I've used are called "Dunstan" Chestnuts after the developer and they seem to have a fairly American chestnut shape to them.  They also start throwing a few chestnuts out at 3 years.  At least the ones I've grown.  And the aren't susceptible to the chestnut blight.  

Black (wild) Cherry grows well in this zone, but you really have to add a lot of sugar to them to make anything that I would call tasty.  (jelly, puree', etc.)  I have several on my property, but I've opted to plant a wide variety of domestic cherry trees because I like pies and sweet cherries.  They all seem to do well.

Hazelnuts do well also.  Make sure you get American or hybrid varieties because the pure European strains struggle with our blight.

American Persimmon varieties do well in this zone, and will produce large amounts of fruit starting about year 4.  I've just put in a few Japanese (non-astringent) varieties that are rated for this zone, but I haven't had them in the ground long enough to comment on their long term performance. 

Pawpaws do well also.  Make sure you plant them in a somewhat shaded area or under a tree you think you might remove in a couple of years.  The also like damp roots near a stream or creek, not standing water like a cypress, just close to a drainage so that they don't dry out.

There's a lot of eastern red cedar where I'm at, and accordingly, a lot of cedar apple rust, so I try to find resistant varieties.

Pears seem to do well also.

Mulberry volunteers here a lot and I personally like the fruit, plus it grows fast and doesn't have a lot of pests that try to eat it.

I'm probably leaving some out, but those have been good ones for me.

  
 
Scott Foster
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Gifford Pinchot wrote:How about shagbark hickory? I've never been a huge hickory fan but they are growing on me.

Nut tree has tasty nut for you to eat.

Hard mast (nuts) improve food sources for wildlife.

Wood burns great.

Wood make for excellent tool handles.

I've heard of people making some sort of syrup out of it, the bark i think.

Wood chips are great to add to the BBQ for hickory smoking.


I'd avoid Ash in the Northeast, Emerald ash borer, a fatally damaging pest of ash, is either here or on its way depending on exactly where you are.


Thanks Gifford.  I will check out the shagbark and thanks for letting me know about the ash.  
 
Scott Foster
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Jese Anderson wrote:If I were shooting for some type of "food Forrest" outside of your typical fruit trees then I'd go with:

Sugar Maple (it will take a few years but they are quick growers). Use - tap them and make syrup.

Persimmon - Honey bees love the blooms and the fruits are a tasty treat for both wildlife and humans (make sure they are ripe otherwise it's like eating alum). I have one 70ft tall persimmon in my yard, in the spring/early summer it puts off a steady "hum" from the thousands upon thousands of honey bees dining at the blooms...it's really remarkable (I have a few hives and closest neighbor 3/4 a mile away has 20 hives or so).


Jese,

I was actually considering sugar or black maple for the syrup and there is a third maple for syrup but I can't remember which one.  Maples grow like weeds around here so they are pretty low maintenance.   I will definitely check out Persimmon.   I planted four mulberry, 80 baby-white willows, and a couple of chestnuts.  I don't have any oaks or walnuts.   As I write and think about the things I've planted, I'm probably over planting but my 3 acres is nothing but grass and some islands of wood chips. 
 
Scott Foster
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Marcus Billings wrote:Hi Scott,

Great list Marcus and thanks for the input.  This is a great reference list.   I have planted some of this stuff but not nearly all.  I have major issues with cedar apple rust. Just to show how prepared I was when I started planting I had never heard of it before.  None of the varieties I have are even mildly resistant.  The rust even hammers a crab apple.  

I purchased Liberty apple trees and their pollinators.  They are supposed to be resistant to Cedar Apple Rust.   If these don't work I will be yanking some apple trees. 

I've been thinking about planting Cherries I just haven't gotten around to it.   '

Not sure if you like Apricots but besides Italian plum, they are my hardiest fruit tree so far which surprises me as I have read that they are finicky. 

  I had my first Pear harvest this year but something is making the pear tree drop its leaves.   I figure once I get the bio-diversity up some of the pest issues I'm having will disappear.    Pretty sure Cedar Apple Rust is here to stay though. 
 
Scott Foster
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Honestly, I think all of the trees on this list could be used poorly, which is why I believe the question to be flawed. It is too simple. It is not simply the choice of tree, but the way the different pieces of the system interact in whatever specific situation they are employed. Does everything work together? Is everything well-suited to where I am trying to grow it? Could I make a different choice and make everything work easier or more naturally, or with less input from humans?

-CK

.  I'm starting with Tabula Rasa.  Basically three acres with nothing but grass...doesn't sound like much but you can quickly get paralyzed into doing nothing.  All of my planting is with a shovel. 

Also, I'm more likely to get out there and plant stuff according to size and where I want it and if it doesn't work I change it.  I think the most important part of permaculture for me is the doing.  If something doesn't work I will change it (observe) but that's part of the process I enjoy.  Pretty much the only way to explore.   Unless of course, I can catch a ride to Mars with SpaceX 
Cheers.
 
Scott Foster
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Chris Kott wrote:Mulberry trees are great. They bloom and fruit for something like three months in the year, and they're understory trees. And mulberries are delicious.

Thanks, Chris,  I'm feeling the Mulberries for sure.  I have four of them planted but they are all the same variety.  Once these get going I may try some others, can wait to make a Melomel (fruit mead) with mulberries
 
Todd Parr
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Apples, cherries, autumn olive, siberian pea shrub, black locust, osage orange, walnut, pear, seaberry (spreads like wildfire though), maple.
 
Paul Lutz
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Skandi, I think it hit 90F here a few days this year. I doubt persimmon need much in the way of heat.
 
Marcus Billings
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Scott Foster wrote:
Marcus Billings wrote:Hi Scott,

Great list Marcus and thanks for the input.  This is a great reference list.   I have planted some of this stuff but not nearly all.  I have major issues with cedar apple rust. Just to show how prepared I was when I started planting I had never heard of it before.  None of the varieties I have are even mildly resistant.  The rust even hammers a crab apple.  

I purchased Liberty apple trees and their pollinators.  They are supposed to be resistant to Cedar Apple Rust.   If these don't work I will be yanking some apple trees. 

I've been thinking about planting Cherries I just haven't gotten around to it.   '

Not sure if you like Apricots but besides Italian plum, they are my hardiest fruit tree so far which surprises me as I have read that they are finicky. 

  I had my first Pear harvest this year but something is making the pear tree drop its leaves.   I figure once I get the bio-diversity up some of the pest issues I'm having will disappear.    Pretty sure Cedar Apple Rust is here to stay though. 


Hi Scott,

Liberty is good, you might try Empire as well. 

The folks that controlled the property I'm on before me loved the look of cedar trees and promptly removed just about everything but them.  I've set on a reverse path and am turning then into outdoor furniture.  Less cedars =less cedar apple rust?  I do think proximity is a factor, I'm not saying it will eliminate rust, but of the old apple trees that were here when I got here, the ones farthest away from the cedars do seem to do the best.

Also, I know the feeling of not knowing where to start with a large blank canvas.  I just started buying a few trees and plants that I liked and looked good and stuck them in the ground.  I always loved blackberries, so---Bam!, I put in 50 blackberries.  No rhyme, and a little reason.  But as I've progressed, the shotgun approach is working!  Some plants thrive and other don't always make it, but then I come back with something else.  Now, I don't just put anything anywhere, like with a cherry, I make sure it has excellent drainage.  But I mixed it up pretty good and fill in where I can.

The other thing that has helped with the blank canvas is just letting stuff grow.  I've had some amazing trees, bushes and plants pop up on their own, I'll keep some and get rid of others, but it's definitely a fluid situation where the environment is putting it's stamp on it as well.

Good luck with your project!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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Lots of good ideas already, here are the ones I have planted or were already growing on Buzzard's Roost.

Persimmon, Pear (two varieties), Plum (two varieties), Arkansas Black Apple (you might want one of a different variety for pollination), Mulberry (red, white, black), Fig ( brown turkey and celeste), White Oak, Hickory.

Persimmon is a great wood and fruit, if needed you can carve your own golf woods from mature pieces, it makes a nice sounding flute too.
Pear, fruit and smoking wood are prime uses but you can also use it to weave baskets and make branch furniture (last two when still green) and bright sounding flutes.
Plum, fruit and smoking wood are again prime uses, this wood also makes good baskets and branch furniture and flutes.
Arkansas Black Apple, fruit, smoking wood, flutes.
Mulberry, fruit for wine, jelly, not a good smoking wood but does make nice mellow flutes.
Fig, fruit, the wood makes a nice pipe stem.
White Oak, fire wood, baskets, chair seats, whisky barrels, acorns of the white oak are larger than the red oaks and deer and pigs love them, plus you can make acorn flour for yourself.
Hickory, nuts, handles, firewood, smoking wood, baskets, chair seats.

All of the above can make lumber if they get large enough.

Redhawk
 
Skandi Rogers
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Paul Lutz wrote:Skandi, I think it hit 90F here a few days this year. I doubt persimmon need much in the way of heat.

Yeah I thought so that's 10-15 degrees higher than my summer high, probably not worth trying them, though I do like to eat them!
 
Bryant RedHawk
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persimmons grow in Japan, I think that as long as your summers reach 75 degrees they would fruit well. usually fruiting is more about chill hours needed than heat hours.
 
Scott Foster
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Bryant RedHawk wrote:Lots of good ideas already, here are the ones I have planted or were already growing on Buzzard's Roost.

Persimmon, Pear (two varieties), Plum (two varieties), Arkansas Black Apple (you might want one of a different variety for pollination), Mulberry (red, white, black), Fig ( brown turkey and celeste), White Oak, Hickory.

Persimmon is a great wood and fruit, if needed you can carve your own golf woods from mature pieces, it makes a nice sounding flute too.
Pear, fruit and smoking wood are prime uses but you can also use it to weave baskets and make branch furniture (last two when still green) and bright sounding flutes.
Plum, fruit and smoking wood are again prime uses, this wood also makes good baskets and branch furniture and flutes.
Arkansas Black Apple, fruit, smoking wood, flutes.
Mulberry, fruit for wine, jelly, not a good smoking wood but does make nice mellow flutes.
Fig, fruit, the wood makes a nice pipe stem.
White Oak, fire wood, baskets, chair seats, whisky barrels, acorns of the white oak are larger than the red oaks and deer and pigs love them, plus you can make acorn flour for yourself.
Hickory, nuts, handles, firewood, smoking wood, baskets, chair seats.

All of the above can make lumber if they get large enough.

Redhawk


Thanks Redhawk if I can get around the cedar apple rust I will definitely try an Arkansas Black.  Persimmons for sure.   I have been watching some videos on English basket weaving with willow...it's really amazing the things you can do with willow....if my seedlings make it I have probably overplanted them. 
 
Scott Foster
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Thanks to everyone who posted on this inquiry!   Some great ideas and now I have an additional reference list.  Sometimes I just want to plant something,...now I will use this as a reference.

P.S. I just bottled my first batch of mead....can't wait to make a Melomel with mulberries.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Somebody mentioned alder already.  It's probably underutilized in permaculture (probably because it produces no fruit) but it's a great tree that actually has an edible inner bark in the spring--red alder anyway.  It's nitrogen fixing root bacteria is well known, but it's leaves are also heavy on nitrogen, and make great compost additions. The bark makes a medicine for tuberculosis.  The wood is great for smoking fish or garlic.  The bark can be used as a dye or to tan hides.  The wood can be used for carving bowls and utensils.  It makes decent fast regeneration rocket stove fuel.  It's easy to grow.  It coppices like mad, and is difficult to kill, but not impossible, so great for amateurs to get to know woodlot skills with.

Hawthorn was also mentioned. The local variety to my province is Crataegus douglasii.  It wasn't mentioned that the berries produce heart medicine, and it has many other medicinal qualities.  The thorns can be used for sewing and making primitive fishing hooks.  The thorns were also used medically for lancing boils, and cosmetically for piecing ears by indigenous folks in my province.  The wood is very hard and was used for tools and for weapons. 

Birch was mentioned.  It wasn't mentioned that it can be inoculated with a lot of different edible and medicinal fungi, like turkey tail. The sap and inner bark are emergency food sources, can be used to make wine and beer. The bark can be used to make birch tar, which is a waterproof glue strong enough to be used to patch a canoe or pottery.  The bark can be used to make canoes, shingle under a sod roof, make baskets and many other implements. The oil rich bark is excellent fire tinder.  Birch coppices readily in nature, coming up after a wildfire from the vigorous roots.  the coppice withes can be woven into baskets and furniture.  The wood is a beautiful light colour which takes well to paint or varnish, and makes nice furniture or interior woodwork.  Birch rots easily and is great for hugulkultur.
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