Are you growing any fruit trees in Seattle area?
If yes, what is your favorite?
Apples offer the most successful combination of features.
Besides what is prolific you might want to consider your free time available when the fruit is ripe. Harvesting & processing a lot of fruit in a weeks' time when you have other commitments is tiring.
My favorite would be Italian plum trees that receive no care at all at our camp. Picked just before sunset the bees aren't there, so it's easier.
I also prefer to pick before too ripe & pecked by birds. I put most in the refrigerator to keep longer, but some in a bowl on the table. We eat lots of them fresh, but also halve them to remove pits & freeze for later in large containers in measured amounts. In winter I thaw & make plum sauce, jam, baked cakes, etc.
The Medlar is super attractive, and the fruit is OK, if you like Apple Butter jam. Sort of what it tastes and looks like.
the fruit are not really good til they look pretty spoiled, like beyond dead ripe.
Grows a lot like Quince, irregular zig zag limbs and gets about to 16 feet tall.
So far,Nectarine,Apricot and Mulberry.
Figs are pretty easy to grow, If you like them.
Also, Pie Cherries work really good. Nice looking trees also.
What about those Asian Pears?
My neighbor has a few and has had no problems, other than he has more fruit than he can consume. A bear helped him out last year.
I tried apple trees several times. They eventually had apple maggots.
End of story.
Various apples seem easiest, if you have the right variety. Plums and pluots (plum apricot crosses) only slightly less so. Cherries if you like them (I don't, lol). I have what I think is a self seeded, red-leafed plum/cherry cross at the moment that I rather like, it just started producing last year. Haven't grown quince myself, but I've seen some beautiful trees in the Seattle area, full of fruit.
Some of the elderberries are rather nice, blue elderberries in particular. The flowers can be fried as fritters for something completely different, and the fruit used in jams and preserves, syrups and such.
With Asian Pears, make sure you like the fruit of that particular variety. Some are definitely better than others! The skin on a number of them can be very bitter, and often they don't keep well, nor make good applesauce or anything like that. Pretty much you can juice what you can't eat right away, and that's about it.
An oddball native you won't see listed often, but has tasty fruits is the shadblow/serviceberry- Amelanchier alnifolia. Flowers like a cherry (to which it is closely related), berries more like a blueberry (which is in a completely different family, lol). Usually produces in late summer, but be careful you tent it if you want fruit as the birds will strip it quickly before its fully ripe once they learn what it is. The native is more often than not more of a large multi-stemmed shrub, and can sucker like cherries do, but you can with diligent pruning keep it to a single trunked small tree.
I adore hazelnuts of all different kinds. Walnuts grow well here too, though I have no idea how well they produce.
Is this only about trees? Various blueberry and huckleberry varieties are some of my favorite shrubs. Raspberries and blackberries too of course. Strawberries can often be underplanted under these, particularly the little native Fragaria vesca. Makes a good groundcover under fruit trees, and is not a water and nutrient hog like lawn grasses.
If I had room for one, I would grow a trellis of kiwi. Love the fruits of the little hardy varieties you can't get at the store, but you need two vines (male and female) and a very sturdy trellis for these big, aggressive vines. I just don't have the space. Grapes are similar in that regard, and there are some stunning heirloom varieties around if you want to go looking for them.
We have apple maggot now, so I don't know how you can manage apples without a spray program, unless you have a dwarf tree, and lots of time to cover each apple with a nylon sock.
Spontaneous, purple-leaved hybrid between plum and cherry - if that is what you were saying - unlikely. Self-sown purple leaved plum seedlings, on the other hand are seen here. Also purple-leaved peach cultivars are used by nurseries as root-stocks for stone fruits.
Amelanchier alnifolia is one of the most prevalent native shrubs offered, both through the mail/online and in native plant assortments at local independent garden centers. Hill, Narizny, The Plant Locator - Western Region (2004, Black-Eyed Susans Press, Timber Press, Portland) gave 25 sources for stock listed as the typical species, with 3 places also having the 'Regent' cultivar and 5 of them the 'Smokey'.
Due to Eastern Filbert Blight when planting hazels for fruiting in this area now it is probably necessary to plant the new resistant cultivars from Oregon State University in order to avoid future problems.
The Fragaria vesca seen in ordinary cultivation here is usually the European type with better fruiting traits than the two locally native vars. The European ones have seeded out into the wild so plants seen so situated are not automatically native to this area.
Actinidia arguta fruits have been seasonally available at local markets for some years. Self-fruitful cultivars are sold by nurseries; it appears that when grown on a frame this species can be maintained in a small size perhaps indefinitely, as has been shown near the entrance to the Douglas Conservatory at the Center for Urban Horticulture in Seattle.
Here is a link that might be useful: Tree Fruits and Alternative Fruits for Western Washington
This post was edited by bboy on Sat, Jan 4, 14 at 15:29
I honestly don't know what the parentage of the seedling I have is, but I do know the fruit is nothing like the little purple plums on the purple leafed plum that is the most likely parent. I do have a small shrub of Prunus tomentosa, the Nanking cherry, which flowers at more or less the same time. To my knowledge, the little cherry has never actually produced a fruit, but it could easily have provided pollen for the plum, if the two are able to cross. I don't know how likely that is, but they do flower more or less together. There is also a Prunus subhirtella across the street that on some years has a few flowers left when the purple leaved plum starts blooming, but again, I have no idea how likely they are to hybridize, but the cherries in general seem amenable to that. The native bitter cherry, Prunus emarginata is being slowly hybridized to extinction in urban areas since it readily hybridizes with a number of ornamental and fruiting cherries.
I have pretty much focused on the natiive Amelanchier alnifolia. It is fairly easy to find among the native plant vendors, including at the various Native Plant Society sales. Ditto with the Fragaria vesca (or for that matter, Fragaria virginiana, which is less likely to fruit heavily, but has nicer tasting smaller berries). You are right though, there is considerable debate these days as to how much of even the "native" Fragaria vesca offered is either European in origin or at best a hybrid between the Eurasian varieties and the local natives. For the purpose of a fruit producing orchard, this may be of more academic interest, and a more fruitful, even if not native selection, may be as good or better depending on what you want.
Have you heard if the hazelnut blight affects native Corylus cornuta? I hadn't heard that was a problem here, I hope it isn't creating too many problems with the native hazelnuts. They do typically bloom at slightly different times.
>The native bitter cherry, Prunus emarginata is being slowly hybridized to extinction in urban areas since it readily hybridizes with a number of ornamental and fruiting cherriesI know only of P. x pugetensis, the cross between P. emarginata and P. avium.
>You are right though, there is considerable debate these days as to how much of even the "native" Fragaria vesca offered is either European in origin or at best a hybrid between the Eurasian varieties and the local nativesThe two native vars. and the European type are told apart by their morphology.
Can almost guarantee that if you try to grow filberts, the Squirrels and Blue Jays will beat you to the crop.
Honestly it isn't worth the bother, and if you live in a City, you cannot even shoot at them.
The last townhouse we rented in NW Portland had a nice hazelnut tree over the back patio.
The squirrels loved to hang around and we enjoyed their company. We never saw one of the hazelnuts reach maturity :)
Many tree and shrub (and other) crops have to be caged, fenced or netted if most of the production is not to be lost to wildlife - often birds and rodents are the main dispersal agents of the wild parental species in nature. In other words, the plants "want" the animals to come and take their fruits away, and when you are trying to get these for yourself you have to thwart this ancient biological relationship.
Even corn and grapes may have to be protected from raccoons, rabbits may mow off garlic(!) and so on.
If you plant it, they will come - small plots inside large cities are not spared, I have seen wharf rats (Rattus rattus) on apple and fig trees many times. They apparently like these fruits so much they appear on the trees, in full view during broad daylight. As this is the main disease vector rat species - the plague rat - having these in a tree one is hoping to eat from seems additionally undesirable.
People here have called them "blue jays" for years (it's logical) but unlike common names for plants those of birds are more or less standardized; the local, black-and-blue, crested jay is Stellar's jay. Blue jay is an eastern North American species.
This post was edited by bboy on Thu, Mar 27, 14 at 13:34
I see that Amelanchier alnifolia has the common name serviceberry. Is this the same plant as Saskatoon?
Yes--Saskatoon, Juneberry, serviceberry are names common to A. alnifolia.
The first bird referenced above is likely the California scrub jay, a name unlikely to catch on here.