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Drought tolerant food trees and shrubs for dry Western OK

 
pollinator
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Location: OK High Plains Prairie, 23" rain avg
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The following quote is from another permies thread.

Dan Boone wrote:  I'm in Central Oklahoma where the Trifoliate Orange (poncirus trifoliata) grows really well (if you can get it through the fragile seedling stage) but none of the other cold-hardy citrus and near-citrus as far as I know; we get temps down in the 12F range pretty much every year with single-digit temps ever few years and the low-temp extreme in 25 years being -8.  



Dan - I'm thrilled to hear about the poncirus trifoliata. I am looking for potential trees that might grow (well?) in Western OK. I'm particularly looking for drought tolerant, native or naturalized fruit trees. Perhaps persimmon which I know from the Ozarks will grow on the land down in the washes which are perhaps somewhat cooler than the hilltops? Rainfall can be anywhere from extreme drought to low 20s. There appear to be some grapes and perhaps a sand? plum. Sumac bushes grow there if that tells you anything. There is a pond but it dries up in multi-year droughts. Any hardy fruit trees or plants you recommend would be appreciated.

Recommendations that have worked for others in sub-humid areas are appreciated. The land is in zone 7a.
Thanks,
denise
 
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Denise, I am 8a/b where we are almost always in a drought situation.

I can recommend some things that I have growing here that will work for your zone.

I highly recommend oak trees.  I would recommend looking at local or native varieties.

For shrubs I can recommend Rosemary, an herb that becomes a shrub due to its growth pattern.  I planted my transplant last year and it is two feet tall. Blue Sage and Autumn Sage are both beautiful flowering shrubs that pollinators like butterflies, bees and hummingbirds love.  I would say both of mine are in the 3' to 4' range.

There are many others that I have no experience with.

Since you say you have Cedar, I would stay away from pears and apples due to Cedar Rust.

There is a native plum called something like Chickasaw??

Ask the county extension agent to recommend local or native varieties.

Plants will always need watering the first year and when they are showing stress.  Otherwise I don't water these plants.
 
denise ra
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Anne,
Thanks for the leads on plants. I did not know about cedar rust. I plan on cutting every cedar tree down, there are only about 100-200. If my neighbors have cedars 1/4 mile away will I still get the rust?
denise
 
Anne Miller
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From what I understand, yes it can travel that far.

We knew nothing about it until we planted a pear tree.  I still have not found the infected cedar tree.  If you find a cedar with a oozy growth on it, that is it


If you have already planted a apple or pear, then I wouldn't worry until the tree gets sick.  There are conflicting stories about if you can save the fruit tree.


https://www.extension.umn.edu/garden/yard-garden/trees-shrubs/cedar-apple-rust-and-gymnosporangium-rusts/


It looks something like this:

 
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denise ra wrote:I am looking for potential trees that might grow (well?) in Western OK. I'm particularly looking for drought tolerant, native or naturalized fruit trees. Perhaps persimmon which I know from the Ozarks will grow on the land down in the washes which are perhaps somewhat cooler than the hilltops? Rainfall can be anywhere from extreme drought to low 20s. There appear to be some grapes and perhaps a sand? plum. Sumac bushes grow there if that tells you anything. There is a pond but it dries up in multi-year droughts. Any hardy fruit trees or plants you recommend would be appreciated.

Recommendations that have worked for others in sub-humid areas are appreciated. The land is in zone 7a.
Thanks,
denise



Have you looked into or considered jujube?  They can thrive in conditions considerably worse than you are describing.  My one tree planted about five years ago hasn't fruited yet, but it has finally exploded upwards and is more than twelve feet tall.  Here's a post about a wild/feral Jujube patch I encountered on a friend's land, with reference to another in New Mexico:

https://permies.com/t/44734/Growing-Jujubes-seed-general-Jujube#499852
 
denise ra
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Dan, The jujube thread is a nice thread, very informative. Is it possible to get a copy of the Native Persimmon? I do love persimmons.
 
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I was born and raised in southwest Oklahoma and recently moved back after 20 years in the much wetter south central area.  There aren't a lot of persimmons here, I remember a few from when I was a kid.  My aunt transplanted wild grapes from a creek site to her dry, tightland garden more than 60 years ago and did well with those.  Sand plums are the go-to wild fruit out here.  It looks like we might have a crop this year.  Last year they perished in a late freeze.  We used to be able to find blackberries in the shelter belts, but a lot of those are gone now.  Prickly Pear fruit is an option.  Also there are things that can be done with mesquite.  Mulberry is a good choice as well.  My aunt that had the wild grapes also grew figs.  I've planted a Chicago Hardy and am anxious to see how it does.  There were trifoliate oranges for years around the local library and I plan to plant some of those as well.  I've also seen pomegranate grow and produce here. There are some oaks that will grow.  In the sand shinnery oak is easy to find, though it's a spreading bush and not a tree.  It does produce acorns, though.
 
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