Reliable Nut Trees to Plant This Year!

Reliable Nut Trees to Plant This Year!

walnut tree

Starting a Nut Tree grove or wanting to beef up your backyard food access and support seasonal fresh food variability? Check out these fantastic edible Nut Trees that will reliably produce a great harvest year after year!

Why Choose Nut Trees?

Long storing, versatile in the landscape and kitchen, as well as a boon to backyard wildlife, Nut Trees should seriously be considered when adding any new tree to your landscape! Packed with vegetable protein, vitamins and minerals, and heart-healthy antioxidants, Nuts are also a cash crop that can be sold or shared with many given the size of the trees they come from! A cholesterol-free energy source, it’s no wonder Nuts are a staple of many ground birds and wildlife in the leaner months of the year.

Here at Nature Hills, we love double-duty trees that boost food sustainability and edible landscaping! Here are the most reliable Nut Tree varieties to include in your food forest!

1. Walnut Trees

With gorgeous compound leaves and towering strength, Walnut Trees (Juglans) are mighty deciduous trees with a cash crop in the fall! The green husks do need some work to dry, cure, and break open, but these nuts are some of the healthiest nuts on earth. An acre of Eastern Black Walnut timber produces $100K in revenue when mature in 30 years. Single trees have fetched $20K, so this tree should be seriously considered by hobby farmers and entrepreneurs!

walnut tree

They contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, iron, and antioxidants! In-shell nuts keep for over a year in the freezer or airtight container. Shelled nuts can be kept in the freezer for two years or sold. Great snacks, roasted, added to baked goods, and more!

  • Native Black Walnut
  • White Walnut (Butternut Trees)
  • English Walnut Trees

Walnuts do best with a pollinator tree near each other and are wind-pollinated, so create groupings of multiple Walnuts to increase pollination and therefore increase your harvest!

Need another reason to love Walnut trees? You can tap these trees as you would Maples for a similar syrupy treat each early spring!

2. Chestnut Trees

Not just great around open fire, Chestnut trees have unique flowers and gorgeous palmate leaves all growing season, but then the fall harvest of glossy, smooth ‘chestnut brown’ nuts, known as conkers, inside spikey green husks that appear on the tree in clusters. Unlike the other Nut Trees on this list, Chestnuts are pollinated by bees and beneficial insects. 

The American Chestnut Tree was once a prominent wildlife tree in US forests before a blight nearly wiped them out. Feeding all walks of creatures each autumn with their harvest, these mighty trees are making their return to landscapes and forests alike.

  • Colossal Chestnut Tree
  • Chinese Chestnut
  • Dunstan Chestnut Trees
  • Native American Chestnut

Unlike the similarly named but non-edible Horse Chestnut (Horsechestnut) the Chestnut (Castanea) brings loads of sweet nuts for candy, boiling, roasting, baking, and snacking! Use in stuffing, pasta and rice dishes, soups, and stews, or as a purée instead of mashed potatoes. A good source of antioxidants, even after cooking, Chestnuts are rich in gallic acid and ellagic acid, and minerals like magnesium and potassium.


3. Hazelnuts (Filberts)sh


More shrubby plants than trees, the wonderful native Hazelnut trees (Corylus) have some of the most delectable autumn crops around! Make your own Nutella-like spread, flavor baked goods, make candy, wonderful flavoring, and a delectable snack! Hazels are members of the Birch tree family and are wonderfully cold hardy and wildlife-friendly!

Hazels are rich in protein, vitamin E, folate, B vitamins, and arginine! These shrubby trees are great for creating hedgerows and shelterbelts, working well in an understory setting as smaller sources of autumn food crops.

From native Hazelnuts to more ornamental Filberts, all have gorgeous foliage and tasty nuts! Wind-pollinated, plant groupings of these politely suckering and thicket-forming shrubs or trees can better pollinate each other for far larger harvests.

4. Pecan Trees

Similar to Black Walnuts, the Pecan Tree (Carya) is a close relative with equally compound leaves that become incredible shade and specimen trees! The smooth Nuts are oval and protected in a green husk and light brown shells.

Deep taproots, native, hybrid, and cultivar Pecan varieties are drought tolerant and grow into impressive landscape specimens. Many are ‘papershells’ that are easy to crack and prolific once they are mature!

Some of Nature Hills fan-favorites include:

  • Hardy Pecan Tree
  • Elliot Pecan Tree
  • Pawnee Pecan Tree
  • Desirable Pecan Tree
  • Many More!

Wind-pollinated Pecan trees are related to Walnuts and a species of Hickory, and are divided into Type I and Type II trees, with one needing the other for pollination. Plant in loose groupings to create groves and shade that you and your wildlife will adore! Ripening and dropping in the autumn, these are vital late-season crops that store well and can be added to a wide variety of delicious culinary delights!

Perhaps you have some sun and open ground on your property and want to get into Pecan farming as a hobby or enterprise. Growing Pecan trees is a great idea any way you spin it! Pecans provide plant-based proteins, healthy oils, phytonutrients, contain powerful antioxidant benefits and are also a good source of the mineral Zinc

pecan infographic

5. Hickory Trees

hickory tree

Hickory Trees (Carya) are another Juglandaceae family relative that have fallen out of fashion in favor of larger and easier-to-crack Pecans, but no less vitally important to the native U.S. forest and backyard food sustainability! Still rich and nutty and slightly sweet, they have a buttery texture, these trees' late-season crops can be stored, frozen, roasted, and eaten fresh! Great substitutes in savory dishes and salads, they have a satisfying crunch. Adding a good source of plant-based protein, fiber, and healthy fats, as well as vitamins and minerals like magnesium, potassium, and calcium! The hard-shell nuts store well and are resistant to pests!

With names like Shagbark, Shellbark, Mockernut, Pignut, and Bitternut, most of these trees are hardy natives and members of the U.S. forest and gorgeous edible landscaping shade and lawn trees! Handling a wide range of conditions, including occasional wet soil and flooding. Unlike other deciduous hardwood trees on this list, Hickory are typically self-pollinating and wind-pollinated! As with most fruit and nut trees, though, you’ll get a far larger harvest when planted with other Carya species nearby!

Delicious Late-Season Food & Cash Crops!

Not only do these trees produce tasty nut crops but their lush shade reduces cooling costs and become long-lived legacy trees! Wildlife shelter and food as well, these wonderful additions to the landscape typically begin providing their harvest at around 5 plus years of age and only get better with age!

Even after generations of productivity, a mature Nut Tree then becomes a hardwood cash crop in the way of lumber! Mature stands of these trees can bring in thousands of dollars!

Tasty snacks and culinary goodness, edible Nuts are fantastic additions to your diet and the trees are impressive legacy plants that are in it for the long haul! Start growing your family's generations of food supply today with the help of Nature Hills Nursery!

Happy Planting!

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