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8 Nut Trees You Can Grow in Kansas

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Written By Lyrae Willis

Environmental Scientist & Plant Ecologist

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Home » Kansas » 8 Nut Trees You Can Grow in Kansas

Kansas is the perfect place to grow a thriving nut orchard. With so much land, soil, and sunshine, you will have a productive nut orchard in no time.

With so many already native to Kansas, it is easy to find nut trees you can grow in Kansas, no matter which Kansas hardiness zone you live in.

Most of the nut trees will even stand up well to those famous Kansas winds. They will also thrive in the hotter and drier parts of Kansas, with their great loamy soil, if given some irrigation during the hot, dry summers.

8 Nut Trees That Will Thrive in Kansas

1. Pecan Trees – Carya illinoinensis

Pecan Tree Carya illinoinensis - Tree and Leaf
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work, and via Fast-Growing-Trees – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Of course, you can grow pecan trees in Kansas since the wild trees from which our cultivars are derived are native to the state’s southeastern corner.

Pecans are one of Kansas’ most reliable orchard trees. However, not all varieties will work everywhere in KS; only the Hardy Pecan will produce nuts in northern KS, while those in the southern half have more to choose from.

Also, pecans are not self-fertile and have a more complex pollination process than most nuts. You must understand how to choose the right 2 – 3 pecan cultivars in order to produce nuts.

Pecans grow best in full sun in deep, moist, but well-drained sandy-loam soil. Many prefer acidic soil, but some will perform well in alkaline soil, so choose your variety carefully. They also require moderate water. While a few varieties are drought-tolerant, irrigation will be necessary during summer drought for nut production.

Other Common Names: Hardy Pecan, Northern Pecan, various cultivar names

USDA Growing Zones: 6(5) – 9(10)

Average Size at Maturity: 40 – 150 ft tall*, 30 – 80 ft spread *Size depends on variety

Flowering / Fruiting Season: Inconspicuous flowers bloom from mid-March to mid-April; fruits mature from September to November, depending on the variety

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

2. Black Walnut – Juglans nigra

Black Walnut Juglans nigra growing in Kansas Tallgrass Prairie Nature Reserve
Image by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Black Walnut is another Kansas native tree that grows naturally throughout most of the state in rich, fertile woods and hillsides with deep, well-drained soils.

These tall trees have a dense canopy of compound leaves, making them popular as shade trees.

Black Walnut grows best in full sun on various loamy, well-drained soils. They are intolerant of shade and poorly drained soils and require good airflow to stay healthy.

These trees can be grown anywhere in KS but will require some irrigation, particularly in the west, in order to produce good crops. However, they have great wind resistance, so those in windier areas don’t need to worry about storms.

Many plants will not grow next to walnuts due to the biochemicals they secrete; check the trees around your chosen spot to ensure they are compatible.

While all walnuts are self-fertile, growing with another tree will increase your yields.

Other Common Names: American Walnut, American Black Walnut, Eastern Black Walnut

USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 70 – 100 ft (to 125 ft) tall, 60 – 80 ft spread

Flowering / Fruiting Season: Inconspicuous yellow-green flowers emerge in drooping catkins from May to June; fruits mature from September to October

Available at: Nature Hills

3. American Hazelnut – Corylus americana

American Hazelnut Corylus cornuta
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

American Hazelnut is another native Kansas nut tree found in the eastern ⅓ of the state, where they grow in moist or dry woods, thickets, forest margins, savannas, and prairies.

These fast-growing shrubs will produce nuts within 2 – 3 years after planting. And since they are cold-hardy shrubs, there is no need to worry about wind or winter storm damage.

American Hazelnuts are easy to grow in full sun or partial shade in moist, well-drained soils that are high in organic matter and tolerate strongly acidic to moderately alkaline soils.

These nuts should grow well anywhere in KS. Simply amend your soil with organic matter if necessary and topdress with compost annually to add nutrients and retain moisture.

While drought-tolerant once established, occasional irrigation may be necessary to get good crops, especially in the drier west.

American Hazelnuts are not self-fertile, so you need two different cultivars to produce nuts.

Other Common Names: American Filbert, American Hazel, Hazelnut

USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 8 – 16 ft tall, 8 – 13 ft spread

Flowering / Fruiting Season: Flowers bloom in catkins in March or April; nuts mature from September to October

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

4. Hal’s Hardy Almond – Prunus dulcis ‘Hal’s Hardy’

Hal's Hardy Almond Prunus dulcis 'Hal's Hardy' - Flowering and with nuts
Images via Nature Hills – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Hal’s Hardy Almond is a gorgeous flowering almond tree often planted ornamentally for its profuse, fragrant, pink spring blossoms and lovely green peach-like leaves. As an added bonus, it also produces abundant thick-shelled flavorful almonds.

These bloom later than most almonds, helping you avoid some of the late spring frost. They are also much more cold-hardy than most almonds and should produce nuts reliably anywhere in Kansas.

Hal’s Hardy Almonds are partially self-fertile and will produce nuts with only one tree. However, yields will increase significantly if you grow multiple trees or another cultivar; the All-in-One is another cold-hardy variety that should work well in KS.

These trees are best grown in full sun in loamy, mildly acidic to neutral soil with moderate water.

Some irrigation will be necessary during hot, dry summers, and mulching is recommended to retain moisture.

You can also learn how to identify Hal’s Hardy Almond.

Other Common Names:

USDA Growing Zones: 5 – 8(9)

Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 20 ft tall, 10 – 15 ft spread

Flowering / Fruiting Season: Showy flowers bloom in March; nuts mature in late September

Available at: Nature Hills

5. Butternut – Juglans cinerea

Butternut White Walnut Juglans cinerea
Images via Nature Hills – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Butternut or White Walnut is an eastern North American nut tree often overlooked as people look for Pecans or Black Walnuts.

Butternuts are a type of walnut that looks more like a pecan and has a rich, buttery walnut flavor that will not disappoint.

These cold-hardy trees can be grown anywhere in KS, but those in the southernmost areas may want a somewhat protected location since they are at the upper limits of the trees’ USDA Zone tolerance.

Butternuts are best grown in full sun in moist, rich, well-drained loam. They will thrive in acidic or alkaline soils, and they tolerate clay.

While they have some drought tolerance once established, some irrigation during hot, dry summers is necessary for nut production. Mulch with organic matter to increase soil fertility and retain moisture.

While all walnuts are self-fertile, yields will increase if you plant two or more trees.

Other Common Names: White Walnut, Butter Nut, Lemon Nut, Oil Nut, also previously known as Juglans cathartica, Juglans oblonga

USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 7

Average Size at Maturity: 40 – 60 ft tall, 40 – 60 ft spread

Flowering / Fruiting Season: Flowers emerge in catkins from April to June; fruits mature from late August throughout September

Available at: Nature Hills

6. Dunstan Chestnut – Castanea dentata x mollissima

Dunstan Hybrid Chestnut Castanea dentata x mollissima
Images via Nature Hills – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Dunstan Chestnut is a hybrid chestnut tree created by crossing the American Chestnut devastated by the chestnut blight with the more resistant Chinese Chestnut.

The result is a gorgeous tree with lush green leaves that turn yellow in the fall, making a perfect ornamental or shade tree for any home garden.

Aside from their beauty, Dunstan Chestnuts also produce prolific crops of big, sweet nuts that are easy to peel and have fantastic flavor.

These trees are best grown in full sun in well-drained soil with medium moisture in the slightly acidic to neutral range. It is recommended to mulch heavily to retain moisture while reducing watering frequency to avoid soggy roots and protect them from temperature extremes.

Dunstan Chestnuts resist wind and winter storm damage fairly well, which is good news for those in the windy west.

For more information, check out how to identify the Dunstan Hybrid Chestnut.

Other Common Names: Hybrid Chestnut, Hybrid Dunstan Chestnut

USDA Growing Zones: 5 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 40 – 60 ft tall, 30 – 40 ft spread

Flowering / Fruiting Season: Flowers emerge from May to June; nuts mature from September to October

Available at: Nature Hills

7. Shagbark Hickory – Carya ovata

Shagbark Hickory Carya ovata - tree and nuts
Images by Peter Dziuk, CC BY-SA 4.0, and via Nature Hills – Combined by Lyrae Willis for Tree Vitalize

Shagbark Hickory is yet another native Kansas nut tree found in the eastern ⅓ of the state, where it grows in upland woodlands and dry floodplains.

These popular ornamental trees are grown for their shaggy bark and rich shade, but they also produce occasional crops of big, delicious, thick-shelled nuts.

As a nut tree, Shagbark Hickory production is too unreliable from year to year to be grown commercially. But this hickory tree is a lovely addition to any landscape and will grow well anywhere in KS. In years when they produce, you will enjoy the flavorful harvest.

These tolerant trees grow best in full sun or partial shade in humid climates in moist, rich, well-drained soils. For those in the drier west, mulch with organic matter and water occasionally, being careful not to overwater if your soil drains poorly.

For more information, check out how to identify Shagbark Hickory.

Other Common Names: Carolina Hickory, Scalybark Hickory, Upland Hickory, Shellbark Hickory

USDA Growing Zones: 4 – 8

Average Size at Maturity: 70 – 90 ft (to 150 ft) tall, 50 – 70 ft spread

Flowering / Fruiting Season: Inconspicuous flowers emerge in catkins in mid-spring; nuts mature in September and October

Available at: Nature Hills

8. Bur Oak – Quercus macrocarpa

Bur Oak Quercus macrocarpa in Kansas
Images by Lyrae Willis, Own Work – for Tree Vitalize

Bur Oak is another tree grown mostly ornamentally as a large shade tree with a spreading crown of contorted branches.

However, it also produces large, sweet acorns that are easy to harvest. It is one of few oak trees whose acorns are not bitter and can be eaten raw, roasted, boiled, or ground into flour.

This native oak tree grows naturally all over the eastern ⅔ of Kansas, in open woods, sandy ridges, and riparian areas.

Bur Oak is a cold-hardy tree that thrives anywhere in KS. Even in the drier western ⅓, where it doesn’t grow naturally, it would also thrive if given some irrigation.

These trees grow best in full sun in acidic, alkaline, loamy, sandy, well-drained, wet, and clay soils. While it prefers moderate moisture, it has some drought tolerance once established.

You can also learn how to identify Bur Oak in its natural habitat.

Other Common Names: Burr Oak, Mossycup Oak, Savanna Oak, Overcup Oak, Prairie Oak, Blue Oak

USDA Growing Zones: 3 – 9

Average Size at Maturity: 60 – 80 ft tall, 60 – 80 ft spread

Flowering / Fruiting Season: Inconspicuous flowers bloom in April or May; acorns mature in October

Available at: Nature Hills

Table Comparing Nut Trees in Kansas

Here is a detailed table comparing all the nut trees for Kansas mentioned in the article, including their bloom time, fruiting time, size at maturity, and USDA growing zones

Tree NameBloom TimeFruiting TimeSize at MaturityUSDA Zones
Pecan TreesMid-March to mid-AprilSep to Nov40-150 ft tall*6(5) – 9(10)
Black WalnutMay to JuneSep to Oct70-100 ft (up to 125 ft) tall4 – 9
American HazelnutMarch or AprilSep to Oct8-16 ft tall4 – 9
Hal’s Hardy AlmondMarchLate September15-20 ft tall5 – 8(9)
ButternutApril to JuneLate August to Sep40-60 ft tall3 – 7
Dunstan ChestnutMay to JuneSep to Oct40-60 ft tall5 – 8
Shagbark HickoryMid-springSep and Oct70-90 ft (up to 150 ft) tall4 – 8
Bur OakApril or MayOctober60-80 ft tall3 – 9
* Size depends on Variety

Nut Trees That Will Grow and Thrive in Kansas

As you have seen, Kansas is the perfect place to grow a thriving nut and fruit tree orchard, with many different types of nuts to choose from.

With some irrigation and often mulching, your nut trees will thrive and produce heavy crops once they are established. Just be sure to choose ones suited to your climate, and of course, check to make sure that you choose the right pollinating partner if required. A little research ahead of time will save you much future heartache and lost production.

I hope you have enjoyed learning about the nut trees you can grow in Kansas. Now, have fun picking out which ones you want to grow in your home orchard! Or, if you have the space, why choose? Why not grow them all? Enjoy!

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Photo of author

Lyrae Willis

Environmental Scientist & Plant Ecologist

Lyrae grew up in the forests of BC, Canada, where she got a BSc. in Environmental Sciences. Her whole life, she has loved studying plants, from the tiniest flowers to the most massive trees. She is currently researching native plants of North America and spends her time traveling, hiking, documenting, and writing. When not researching, she is homeschooling her brilliant autistic son, who travels with her and benefits from a unique hands-on education about the environment around him.

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