14 Unusual Fruit Trees To Grow

Plant a fruit tree you won't find in most backyards to enjoy a bounty of fresh flavor.

September 16, 2019
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Photo By: Bailey Nurseries

Photo By: W. Atlee Burpee & Co.

Photo By: Bailey Nurseries

Photo By: Bailey Nurseries

Photo By: W. Atlee Burpee & Co.

Photo By: Bailey Nurseries

Photo By: Bailey Nurseries

Photo By: Bailey Nurseries

Photo By: Logee's

Photo By: Brian Dunne bbdunne@southern.edu/Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds

Photo By: Logee's

Photo By: Photo Courtesy: Scott Womack © 2013 Gibbs Smith, Allure of French & Italian Decor, Betty Lou Phillips

Photo By: Bailey Nurseries

Photo By: Bailey Nurseries


Unripe persimmons (Diospyros virginiana) can make your mouth pucker, but let the fruits ripen past the normal ripening stage, or until they almost decay, and they'll become sweeter. Then you can use the fruits, which are high in vitamin C, to make cookies, cakes, puddings and more. American persimmons are usually hardy in USDA zones 5 to 9, while Asian types can thrive in Zones 7 to 11. Fragrant flowers open in spring on trees that mature at 35 to 60 feet in height.

Japanese Plums

Well-adapted to Southeast and Northeast gardens, ‘Ruby Queen’ is a great choice for extending your plum harvest season. This Japanese type matures up to a month later than ‘Santa Rosa’, another Japanese plum. Plant them together to ensure good pollination. 'Ruby Queen' is hardy in USDA Zones 5 to 8.

Cherry Plum 'Compass'

Plant ‘Compass’ fruits to make into jams and jellies. These unusual fruits, a cross between cherries and plums, are small but juicy. Hardy in zones 3 to 8, the trees bear in the second year after planting and mature at 3 to 8 feet high.

First Editions Tawara Asian Pear

Crispy Asian pears taste like a cross between apples and pears. While cultivars may be partially self-pollinating, you'll get more fruits if you plant two or more together. Use the pears for eating fresh or canning. The variety shown here, Pyrus 'Tawara Oriental', is hardy in USDA Zones 4 to 7.

Cornelian 'Cherry Red Star'

Cornelian cherry ‘Red Star’ produces aromatic fruits with a tart-sweet taste. The trees are related to dogwoods, and have a shrub-like growth habit, reaching 8 to 10 feet high. Plant two varieties for cross-pollination, and you may harvest as much as 40 pounds of cherries per plant. ‘Red Star’ holds its good looks in fall, when the leaves turn yellow and crimson.

Apple 'Triple Play'

Unique ‘Triple Play’ apple trees are recommended for zones 4 to 7. You won’t need a pollinator, since this tree offers three varieties in one: ‘State Fair’, ‘Wealthy’, and 'Zestar'. Topping out at 12 to 15 feet tall, 'Triple Play' has a spread of 10 to 14 feet.

Plum 'Shiro'

'Shiro' is a sweet, juicy, yellow-skinned plum rated for orchards or gardens in USDA Zones 5 to 9. This clingstone-type variety should be grown with a a pollinator such as ‘Compass’, ‘Superior’ or ‘Toka’.

Colonnade 'Maypole Apple'

'Maypole’ is a columnar apple tree, or a tree with a straight, main leader and lots of slender side branches. Hardy in zones 4 to 8, it’s ideal for small orchards or gardens. Use the apples, which are ready to pick by mid-September, for cooking into jams and jellies.

Miracle Berry (Synsepalum Dulcificum)

The "miracle" in this plant's common name refers to its gumdrop-sized berries. Let them mature before you eat them, and they'll make sour foods taste sweet. Synsepalum dulcificum, from tropical West Africa, is hardy to zone 10 and has a slow, shrubby growth habit. You'll want to hand pollinate for a good yield. 

Rare Figs

If you're ready to grow figs, but aren't sure which varieties to choose, try an assortment of rare types from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. The company says you'll get three small plants of two varieties; the flesh may be pink, green or red. The plums will thrive outdoors in zones 7 to 11. Gardeners in some cold regions may be able to grow them with winter protection. 

Mango 'Pickering'

Early-fruiting 'Pickering' (Mangifera indica hybrid) is a mango that you can plant in a container or the landscape. It grows vigorously and is less susceptible to diseases than some other mango varieties. Let the plants develop a strong trunk and branches before you allow the fruits to form (this usually takes a couple of years). 'Pickering' mangos have a coconut-mango flavor without a lot of unwanted fiber.

Olive Trees

Olive trees grow best in Mediterranean-like climates. While they thrive in summer heat, they can't take temperatures that drop to around 15 degrees F or below for any length of time. Any kind of olives can be made into oil, and many can be cured for eating. For best results, choose a variety bred for your needs.

Centennial Crabapple Tree

Crabapples are usually planted as ornamentals, not edibles, but 'Centennial' bears fruits that are good for eating fresh or turning into sauce. It's also a very cold-hardy tree, rated to USDA Zone 3. While 'Centennial' bears heavily, and has good disease resistant, the crabapples don't last long in storage, so use them soon after harvesting.

Colonnade Bolero Apple Tree

Colonnade Bolero apple trees were developed to produce in a scant two square feet of garden space. The juicy, yellow-green apples have a orangish-red blush; they're borne on a tall, straight leader and numerous side branches. The crispy fruits are usually ready to pick starting in mid August.

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