The Best Non-Native Mast-Producing Trees and Shrubs
Although native mast producing trees provide the most benefits for wildlife and the local environment, many non-native mast producing trees also provide benefits for wildlife, the environment, and humans. The following is a selection of the best non-native mast-producing trees and shrubs for North America:
1. Domestic Apple (Malus domestica)
Although there are many beautiful native crabapples with exceptional wildlife qualities, none are quite as beloved by the local Homo sapiens as the common apple. Descended from wild apple species in Central Asia, the domestic apple has been cultivated by humans for thousands of years and there are more than 7000 cultivars raised around the world today. Apples were among the first trees brought to North America by European colonists and the first known apple orchard in the New World was established near Boston about 1625. North America’s native wildlife eagerly took to these sweeter and juicier relatives of the native crabapples, so in some areas humans must fight the deer, bears, turkeys, and other critters for the apple crop! Apple trees are also an important spring nectar source for European honeybees.
2. Common Hazel (Corylus avellana)
A Eurasian relative of America’s two native hazel species, the Common Hazel is more productive and has a larger nut than its American relatives, making it more suitable for commercial cultivation. In its native Europe, it remains one of the most important tree species used for coppicing and it is also widely used in hedgerows. The Filbert (Corylus maxima) is another Eurasian hazel that can be successfully grown in North America.
3. European Pear (Pyrus communis)
The European Pear and other pear species are native to Eurasia, where they have been cultivated for at least 3000 years. Like the domestic apple, they were among the first plants introduced to the New World by Europeans. The sweet, juicy fruits are as popular with native wildlife as they are with humans and introduced species such as honeybees. The Asian Pear (Pyrus pyrifolia) can also be cultivated in some regions of North America.
4. English Walnut (Juglans regia)
The English Walnut, also known as the Common or Persian Walnut, is a walnut species native to the mountains of Central Asia but now widespread across Eurasia. It is hardy to zone 5 and can also be successfully grown in most regions of the United States. Like other walnut trees, it is large and stately, and produces superior wood that is especially popular for use in furniture-making. The nuts are delicious and nutritious, with a milder flavor than the native Black Walnut (Juglans nigra). The English Walnut also produces juglone in much smaller quantities than Black Walnuts, making it safer around livestock and landscaping.
More Good Non-Native Mast-Producing Trees and Shrubs
- Hardy kiwi (Actinidia arguta)
- European barberry (Berberis vulgaris)
- Mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata)
- Orange (Citrus sinensis)
- Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas)
- Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster sp.)
- Asian Persimmon (Diospyros kaki)
- Goumi (Elaeagnus multiflora)
- Burning bush (Euonymus alatus) – invasive in some regions
- European beech (Fagus sylvatica)
- Common fig (Ficus carica)
- Common medlar (Mespilus germanica)
- White mulberry (Morus alba) – invasive in some regions
- Apricot (Prunus armeniaca)
- Sweet cherry (Prunus avium)
- Sour cherry (Prunus cerasus)
- Domestic plum (Prunus domestica)
- Almond (Prunus dulcis)
- Peach/Nectarine (Prunus persica)
- Nanking cherry (Prunus tomentosa)
- Firethorn (Pyracantha sp.)
- Common grape (Vitis vinifera)