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6 USDA Zone 4 Nut Trees (Reliable Options for Cold Climates)


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There are several USDA zone 4 nut trees that are reliable options for cold climates.

Nuts are generally thought of as warm-climate trees, which is why I wanted to share a handful of these incredible varieties with you today.

6 Fantastic Nut Trees that Grow in USDA Zone 4

1. American Hazelnut Filbert (Corylus americana)

American Hazelnut Filbert Tree
Image by Fritz Flohr Reynolds via Flickr

American hazelnut filberts grow wild across the eastern United States in woodlands and prairies. They are prolific and easy to grow. Some consider this variety a shrub in disguise, while others know it as a tree.

Within several years growers typically bring in a harvest of about 25 pounds of these sweet nuts. These little nuts have many medical benefits, although their main claim to fame is a rich, earthy flavor and the versatility it brings to any kitchen. These nuts can be roasted, turned into nut butter, eaten raw, or ground into flour.

The shrub-like size of the American Hazelnut Filbert allows flexibility when finding the perfect location for it. However, you’ll want to leave yourself enough room to harvest your bounty. If you’re a fan of wildlife, these nuts will attract all sorts of animals, from squirrels to turkeys and more. Birds will feed off of the male flowers during the winter.

Other Common Names: Hazelnut Tree, Filbert Tree

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size At Maturity: 15 to 18 feet tall with a 10 to 12-foot spread

Fruiting Season: August Through October

2. Chinese Chestnut (Castanea mollissima)

Chinese Chestnut
Image by Frederick County Forestry via Flickr

The Chinese chestnut tree is disease resistant; even though blight is generally an issue with American chestnuts, the Chinese chestnut is resistant to it. This tree is easy to grow, as they do well growing on their own with little to no maintenance.

The Chinese chestnut tree is eye-catching and beautiful. The fragrant, creamy white and yellow-hued flowers cover the tree during the late spring, with subtle yet radiant leaves following in the autumn. Not only do these chestnut trees provide food, fragrance, and beauty to any landscape, but they also make excellent shade trees.

Imagine sitting under a 40 to 60-foot wide canopy during the heat of a mid-summer afternoon. Growers can expect a delicious harvest about three years after the tree is planted. However, you will need at least two trees if you hope for a bountiful harvest.

Other Common Names: Chestnut

Growing Zones: 4 through 9

Average Size At Maturity: 40 to 60 feet tall with a 40 to 60-foot spread

Fruiting Season: September through October

3. Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)

Black Walnut
Image via fdecomite via Flickr

Black walnut trees are grown for various reasons, including nuts and timber. These wide-branched trees can reach heights between 70 to 150 feet. They grow well in open fields, on sloped land, and on multiple planting sites. However, they require well-drained, nutrient-dense soil.

The dark brown color of black walnut wood is one of the main reasons it’s so widely sought-after. It’s no wonder that the tree earned the nickname, American Walnut, seeing as our forefathers crafted their homes, barns, and fences with the wood. The leaflets on these beasty trees grow as large as some trees’ leaves and can grow to about two feet long.

The one downside to growing black walnuts is the thick, black husks. Black walnut husks contain the precious nut, but they can be incredibly messy to husk and when left on the ground. Some people make dye out of the husks.

Other Common Names: American Walnut

Growing Zones: 4-9

Average Size At Maturity: 70 to 150 feet tall with a 30 to 40-foot spread

Fruiting Season: September through October

4. American Beech (Fagus grandifolia)

American Beech Tree
Image by Scot Martin via Flickr

American beech trees will grow almost anywhere in the US, from northern Minnesota down to southern Texas. Growing beech trees not only provide nuts, but it’s another excellent choice to add to the list of highly ornamental trees that grow in zone 4.

The beech tree has beautiful dark green leaves with a unique pattern, adding character to any landscape. Signs of autumn begin to show as the leaves change to a bright bronze color. Add to that the smooth blue-grey bark, and you’ve got an ornamental beauty.

The wood of the American beech tree is incredibly strong and damage resistant. Beech trees are also disease and insect-resistant.

The nuts attract various animals, including squirrels, bluejays, and pigeons. Being understory trees means they will grow in spaces that do not get very much sun.

Other Common Names: Beech, Beechnut, Ridge Beech, Red Beech, White Beech

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size At Maturity: 50 to 70 feet tall with a 40 to 60-foot spread

Fruiting Season: Late September through early October (this varies based on location)

5. White Walnut (Juglans cinerea)

White Walnut
Image by Erwin Gruber via Flickr

The white walnut, also known by some as butternuts, was once found all over the place in American forests. While they’re commonly overshadowed by walnut and pecan trees (cousins), white walnuts have an appeal that sets them apart.

The smooth pale white or grey bark adds an incredible contrast to other trees. The nuts of this tree aren’t round like black walnuts; instead, they have more of a barrel shape. The call them butternuts because of the rich buttery-walnut flavor profile. However, these nuts grow in green husks similar to black walnuts, but they’re easy to peel off.

White walnut trees have leaves similar to those of walnuts, with their pinnate, tropical-looking foliage providing pleasant shade in the summer. The butternuts are somewhat slow to establish, but once they’re well-rooted, they can up a couple of feet of new growth in one season.

The downside to these trees is that it can take about 6 to 8 years before you can enjoy the sweet buttery nutmeat. White walnut trees have a long history of being used for furniture similar to black walnut timber. They also provide support for numerous wild animals.

Other Common Names: Butternut

Growing Zones: 3-9

Average Size At Maturity: 40 to 60 feet tall with a 35 to 50-foot spread

Fruiting Season: Late October

6. Colossal Chestnut (Castanea sativa x crenata ‘Colossal’)

Colossal chestnut trees are large, and they have a profound impact on any landscape. It isn’t until you get up close to these giants that you’ll notice they’ve got a slightly tropical look about them. The compound leaves are beautiful on their own, but when the tree’s cute yellow flowers bloom in the late spring, it adds even more of a flare.

Colossal chestnuts are a hybrid cross between a European and Japanese chestnut. It’s been reported that this hybrid is resistant to chestnut blight, which is a common issue for other chestnut varieties.

Along with this tree’s resistance to diseases, it’s an incredibly prolific producer. The Colossal tends to grow loads of sweet nuts, sometimes over 50 pounds per tree, every season. However, you’ll need good pollination to see that amount.

Chestnuts aren’t at the top of everyone’s favorite nut list, but there are many people who enjoy them. There are various ways they can be eaten, aside from roasting them over an open fire. Some people like to boil the nuts before candying them. Sounds delicious.

Other Common Names: N/A

Growing Zones: 4-7

Average Size At Maturity: 30 to 40 feet tall with a 20 to 30-foot spread

Fruiting Season: Early autumn

Zone 4 Nut Trees To Grow In Your Neighborhood

Nuts are expensive to buy at the grocery store. Growing your favorite nut tree in your yard adds value to the property and provides countless nuts to feast on.

While nuts are generally considered warm-weather trees, there are several nut trees that will provide a reliable harvest every season in USDA Zone 4. Black walnuts and butternuts are two ideal choices.

Hopefully you already have your zone 4 fruit trees growing, however if you don’t I would take a look at that article I did so you can have a combination of fruits and nuts growing in your yard.

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