The following is a guest post by Liz Nelson, a freelance writer based in Houston, TX.
When it comes time to plant a tree you might have your mind on things like shade, fast growth, or pretty flowers in the spring time. However there are many trees that offer edible benefits as well. Here are three trees that look great and give you something to snack on:
- Pecan Tree – The Pecan tree is not only a large shade tree but it also produces very tasty nuts. The Pecan tree typically produces the biggest harvest in warmer climates and does well in areas with lots of rain and sunshine. Pecan nuts form with a bright yellow-green skin over the nut. As it ripens the skin starts to pull back until the ripe nut falls out of the tree. There are several varieties of Pecan trees, some of which have larger or more flavorful pecans.
- Walnut Tree – Like the Pecan tree, the Walnut tree also produces tasty nuts. The Walnut tree grows better in cooler climates with less rain however so it can be a great alternative to Pecans if your area does not support them. Walnuts also form with a green skin that falls off as it ripens. The nuts are significantly tougher to shell than pecans however. There are also several varieties of Walnut trees, some of which produce bitter and inedible nuts so be aware of the variety you plant. [Editor's Note: Dr. James Duke points out that many varieties of seeds and nuts contain tryptophan, an important amino acid that the brain converts to serotonin]
- Date Palm – This tropical tree grows best in hot, dry climates. Like most Palm trees, the trunk of the tree is bare and the leaves are clustered at the top. When dates form, the seeds of this plant, they hang down from the crown of the tree in large clusters. Dates are very sweet and are used in many ethnic cuisines. They are best kept and eaten when they have been dried. The sap of the Date Palm can also be used to create a syrup or sweet drink if desired.
As you can see it all depends on your growing zone but you can easily find a tree that gives you both shade and food. Fruit trees are another great option and you can choose climate appropriate ones that serve both your needs and the needs of your environment. Plant a tree and reap the rewards!
[Editor's Note: If you are short on space, Better Homes and Gardens has a great article on growing fruit trees in pots. This is perfect for the apartment-dweller!]
This is a guest post by Liz Nelson from WhiteFence.com. She is a freelance writer and blogger from Houston. Questions and comments can be sent to: liznelson17 @ gmail.com.