30 Bananas a Day!

List of Uncommon Cold Hardy Fruit Trees (Gardening Zones 3-7)

The hardiest fruit trees are Apples, Pears, and Plums which survive Zone 3 temperatures (-30 degrees to -40 degrees Fahrenheit). In Zone 4, many varieties of berries, Plums, Persimmons, Cherries, and Apricots do very well. In Zone 5 there are more options such as Peaches, Mulberries, and Paw paws. These zones receive temperatures as low as 20 or 30 degrees below. Fortunately I can grow more types of fruit in my gardening zone 6 and 7. Zone 6 receives temperatures of 0 degrees through -10 degrees F during the Winter while Zone 7 receives temperatures of 10 degrees through 0 degrees F.

Because I have listed below Fruits I can grow for my area, you may want to investigate each fruit for your area. For example the Paw paw fruit is adapted for Zones 5-9, so if you live in Zone 3 or 4, you may not be able to grow the Tree in a permanent location, but you may be able to grow Fruit trees in a large pot. Some of you in Rental homes, apartments, or Urban situations, can grow Fruit trees in containers. Last week I posted several pictures and list a exotic Fruit trees which can grow in large pots instead of in a permanent location. Go to Grow Veggies & Fruit trees in Containers for the details.

Apples are the most common Fruit trees I see growing in my community. Because Apples are one of the most hardy fruits, I highly recommend everyone in a colder climate to grow an Apple Orchard if you cannot grow any other Fruit trees.

 I did not want to focus on the most common Fruits, however. In this post I wanted to present a list of  unique or uncommon Cold hardy fruit trees which can be grown from Gardening Zones 3-7:

Chinese Jujube
Ziziphus jujuba

"Jujube grows throughout most of the southern half of North America. For best crops, the tree needs a long growing season and hot and dry weather during ripening. About the only parts of the United States where jujube can't grow are in the North (USDA Zones 5 and colder) and the Gulf Coast where summer rain and humidity prevent optimum fruiting...average winter minimum temperatures between -5° F (zone 6) and -15° F (zone 5) are the likely hardiness limits, trees have survived -25° F" (NGA.) From what I have seen, the Jujube fruit looks like a small apple, then once it has dried on the tree, it simulates a Date fruit.  They are absolutely sweet and crunchy. 

photo source: LA Eco-village Gardeners' weblog


 Ice Cream Banana
Musa acuminata × balbisiana
'Blue Java'

Ice Cream (Blue Java) Banana is a cold tolerant banana plant with texture and flavor similar to vanilla ice cream. This banana tree has beautiful large leaves and produces medium bunches of silvery blue bananas that are very delicious fresh or cooked. Mature banana tree reach 12 to 15 feet in height. The leaves are a silver-green color. The fruit peel appears blue-green in color. Many rate this banana the best tasting, which is fortunate considering it can withstand Zone 6 temperatures. Most gardeners recommend covering the entire plant in leaf material and mulch to "winterize" the plant. Even most Zone 6-7 gardeners wrap their banana tree with other protection like bubble wrap, blankets, and tarpaulin. In the photo below, a Musa basjoo banana tree is protected with straw and wire mesh to guard against cold temperatures. 

source: photoshelter

photo source: Gator Ventures

Paw-Paw Tree
Asimina triloba

With huge leaves that look more at home in the jungle, the Paw Paw is actually an "Eastern U.S. native, hardy to -25° F! A forest understory tree quite happy in shade, it also tolerates full sun. The fruits, weighing up to a pound each, are rich, sweet, and custard-like, with hints of banana and vanilla. 15 to 30 feet tall. Plant at least two for pollination. Very Cold-Hardy. Rediscover this neglected American classic! Zones 4-9" (ManchesterGardenClub). 

photo: eat the weeds

Hardy Chicago Fig  

Ficus carica 

 Also known as 'Bensonhurst Purple' whose origins are from Sicily, this tree can take sub-freezing temperatures, die back to the ground in the winter, and then re-sprout in the spring and bear Fall fruit on new growth. It is quite suitable for growing in a pot or a greenhouse. "The secret to winter survival is to keep it reasonably dry and above 10°F for the stem or -25°F for the roots. Of course, a fig grown in this manner will take on a shrub-like form rather than a standard tree-form. If a tree shape is desired it would be best to pot it up and sink the container into the ground, then dig it up in late Fall and store it in a garage; 40°F would be ideal, but above 25°F is sufficient  Alternatively, the tree could be taken inside and treated as a house plant" (ManchesterGardenClub).

Other varieties of Figs, such as Celeste and Brown Turkey fig trees are also cold tolerant, withstanding Zone 5 temperatures. Remember to wrap Fig trees the first few Winters with cloth and plastic and/or heavily mulching with leaves.

photo: Growing Greener in the Pacific Northwest

Cold Hardy Kiwi

 Actinidia arguta

The hardy kiwifruit is native to northeastern Asia, tolerating temperatures as low as -25°F. In the eastern United States, the commercial kiwifruit grows only as far north as Maryland, and they are sensitive to late spring frosts. The small fruit is smooth skinned unlike commercial kiwis with fuzzy skin. "Purchase at least one male plant for every nine female plants to ensure pollination and fruit set. Avoid planting in frost pockets. Sites with northern exposure are good because they delay early growth in spring, which can be damaged by late frosts. Construct a trellis system or otherwise support vines...Kiwifruit will not reach maturity and flower until about their fifth year." (Cornell University).

photo: Edible Landscaping


Cudrania Tricuspidata

The Che is related to the Mulberry, but the Che fruit looks identical to the Lychee fruit, resembling a brain. The Che is Native to many parts of eastern Asia from the Shantung and Kiangson Provinces of China to the Nepalese sub-Himalayas. It became naturalized in Japan many years ago, and later was introduced into England and other parts of Europe around 1872, and in 1930 was introduced to the U.S.

"The Che requires minimal care and has a tolerance of drought and poor soils similar to that of the related mulberry. It can be grown in most parts of California and other parts of the country, withstanding temperatures of -20° F...They perform best in a warm, well-drained soil, ideally a deep loam" (California Rare Fruit Growers).  

photo: SF Gate

Passion Fruit (Maypop)

Passiflora incarnata

This hardy perennial plant thrives in climates of -25 degrees F. The plant can be grown in Zones 5-11.

Ideal for containers in any climate and very easy in the garden, Maypop reaches 8 to 12 feet long. It will die back completely to the ground in winter and not reappear until late spring.The fruit appears egg-shaped and the flavor will remind you of Passionfruit, while the aroma is musky. The leaves are 5 to 6 inches wide and up to 8 inches long.

source: 40 acre Woods

source: 40 acre Woods

Ribes uva-crispa

"Indigenous to many parts of Europe and western Asia, growing naturally in alpine thickets and rocky woods in the lower country, from France eastward, well into the Himalayas and peninsular India" (Gooseberry). Gooseberries grow best in summer humid, cool regions with great winter chilling. Gooseberries are deciduous shrubs, fast growing, and reaches 3 feet tall and 6 feet wide. Gooseberries look like veiny Grapes, usually red or green in color.

photo: My Gardener's Table



Cydonia oblonga

"The fruit is much more common through South America, Europe and the Middle East than it is in North America. You can grow quince between zones 4 and 9, as they can tolerate freezing temperatures during the winters as long as the flowers aren’t hit with a late hard frost. Quince fruit is very tart and sour even when mature..." (Backyard Gardening). Since quince have naturally shallow roots, they may survive in large containers, and may also grow like a bush rather than a tree. They take three years to begin producing fruit.

photo: Wayward Spark


Elaeagnus multiflora

Native to the Far East, this shrub reaches 4 to 6 foot tall. Self-fertile, not bothered by pests or diseases, tolerates a wide range of soils, and fixes nitrogen in the soil. Goumi plants have silvery leaves underside. They begin producing fruit in two to three years, with fragrant creamy-white flowers in May followed by tasty and aromatic red fruits. Looks like a Goji Berry fruit, but with hints of cherries, apples and black currant flavor. Grows well in USDA gardening Zones 4-9.


photo: Whitman Farms



"Red, pink and white currants belong to three European species (Ribes rubrum, R. petraeum, R. sativum). Black currants are related to European (R. nigrum) and Asian (R. ussuriense) species.

Other Related Species are the Gooseberry (Ribes grossularia, R. hirtellum), Buffalo Currant (R. aureum), Jostaberry (R. nigrum X hirtellum). Currants grow best in summer humid, cool regions with great winter chilling. They are best adapted to USDA Hardiness Zones 3 through 5...Bushes grown from seed bear when two or three years old" (CRFG). 


Vaccinium macrocarpon

Cranberries are low, creeping shrubs or vines up to 7 ft long and 2 to 8 in in height. They "have slender, wiry stems that are not thickly woody and have small evergreen leaves. The flowers are dark pink, with very distinct reflexed petals, leaving the style and stamens fully exposed and pointing forward. They are pollinated by bees" (Cranberry). The berry is initially white, turning into a deep red when fully ripe. Has an acidic taste that can overwhelm its sweetness. Cranberries require an adequate fresh water supply, and a growing season that extends from April to November. They "grow on low-lying vines in beds layered with sand, peat, gravel and clay. These beds are commonly known as bogs or marshes and were originally created by glacial deposits...Cranberries are grown through the northern part of the United States. The major production areas are New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia and Quebec. Other regions grow cranberries as well, to varying extent, and these include Delaware, Maine, Michigan" (CCCGA).

photo: The 3 Foragers


Sambucus canadensis

The American elderberry is a common plant that takes little effort to forage. It is not a rare plant, in fact I consider this plant to be a weed, considering I have identified them on the sides of roads, in the woods, and in yards. Elderberries grow all over North America, so you will not have problems finding/growing this plant. Elderberries fruit best when you plant at least two different varieties. They start producing the first year of transplant but will take 2 to 3 years to produce fruit from seed. When I have harvested elderberries, I found them to be sour in taste; but if that is your thing, there are several varieties of the American elderberry that are good fruit producers, like the Adams, Black beauty, Black Lace, Johns, Nova, Variegated, and York (NGA). Some would say the Poke plant bears fruit similar to the Elderberry, as well as the plant Devil's Walking Stick.

Photo: Gardening Know How



"Morus alba, white mulberry, and M. nigra, black mulberry, are native to China. Morus rubra, red mulberry, is a North American species, ranging from the mid-Atlantic to Florida and west to Nebraska and Texas. Morus nigra is cultivated throughout Europe for its large, sweet-tart fruit. Morus alba is the hardiest, surviving –25F. and colder, though its fruit quality varies greatly.
The genus name Morus is derived from the Latin ‘mora,’ which means ‘delay,’ and refers to the late leafing habit of the mulberry...This delay ensures that its fruit buds appear well after danger of frost has passed...Mulberries are 30- to 50-foot, fast growing, long-lived deciduous trees with alternate, simple, lobed to undivided leaves. Leaves on one tree can be lobed and [un-lobed]. Though both monoecious (male and female flowers on one plant) and dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants), many trees are self-pollinating. Trees are also known to change sex. The tree flowers inconspicuously in late spring on the current season’s wood and on spurs of old wood...Fruits, which ripen in midsummer, are small fleshy drupes, resembling a tightly beaded blackberry. Fruit color ranges from white to lavender to red and purplish-black. Some mulberries are seeded, though I have known over two dozen trees and never met a seed. The flavor is mild and very sweet, but M. alba is said to lack the perfect blend of sweetness and tartness of M. nigra. I have tasted only M. alba and love it. If I need the tartness for any reason, I mix in some under-ripe fruits. As I noted before, beware: The dark fruit stains badly" (MOFGA). 

photo: Daley's Fruit Tree Blog


Aronia melanocarpa

This shrub can be planted in Zones 3-8., and usually grows to 3-6' tall and wide, though it can be up to 10' in width.You can plant the black chokeberry in either full sun or partial shade...Black chokeberry has dark green leaves that are 1-3" long and lanceolate or elliptical in shape. In the fall they change to reddish hues, similar looking to the Blueberry bush. "The white flowers appear during springtime and come in clusters called corymbs. The fruit produced is a small black pome that has tannins which pack pucker power" (Myers).

Photo: Permaculture News



Ribes × nidigrolaria

"Jostaberries are hybrids of black currant and the American gooseberry, R. hirtellum, produced in Germany, 1930s-50s... The bush is very tall, thorn-less, tends not to branch and requires the space of 2 currant bushes. The foliage is glossy, larger than gooseberry, lobed, scentless and resists mildew. It survives full sunlight but requires much winter chilling. The lateral buds usually shed, leaving blind branches. Purple or brownish-red fruit are borne on lax, few-berried strigs. They are the size of small gooseberry and lacking in flavor, suitable only for experimentation. Buffalo currant produces comparable fruit more abundantly in less space and is recommended instead" (CRFG).

photo: Grow your own

Saskatoon (Serviceberry)

Amelanchier alnifolia

"Native to North America from Alaska across most of western Canada and in the western and north-central United States. Historically, it was also called "pigeon berry". It grows from sea level in the north of the range, up to 2,600 m (8,530 ft) elevation in California and 3,400 m (11,200 ft) in the Rocky Mountains...Saskatoons are adaptable to most soil types with exception of poorly drained or heavy clay soils lacking organic matter. Shallow soils should be avoided, especially if the water table is high or erratic. Winter hardiness is exceptional, but frost can damage blooms as late as May. Large amounts of sunshine are needed for fruit ripening. With a sweet, nutty taste, the fruits have long been eaten by Canada's aboriginal people, fresh or dried" (Amelanchier alnifolia).

photo: Flora of Eastern Washington and Adjacent Idaho


Sea Buckthorn (Seaberry)

Hippophae rhamnoides

"The plant is a thorny shrub that can survive the harshest weather conditions.  As it turns out the Prairies are an ideal habitat for Sea Buckthorn...Sea Buckthorn has an extensive rooting system and a nitrogen fixation property. Seabuckthorn has been planted to rejuvenate marginal land and soil conservation" (Solberry Seabuckthorn). Sea Buckthorn is an "incredibly important natural resources in the mountainous regions of China and Russia, and the Canadian prairies. The plant will grow naturally in both sandy, and clay soils. In fact the plant will thrive in nearly any soil type, but it is extremely intolerant of shady planting sites. The shrubs themselves are also very cold-hardy. The plants can withstand winter temperatures of up to -40 degrees Celsius (-43 degress F). It is also commonly found growing at high altitudes of 4000 to 14000 feet" (Sea buckthorn insider).


Russian Pomegrante

Punica granatum

Pomegranates prefer semi-arid and mild temperate climate with cool winters/hot summers. It can grow in the sunniest part of the yard with well drained sandy soil as well as rock gravel. The plants can take considerable drought but must be irrigated for fruit production. Pomegranates develop into round bushy small trees 6 to 8 feet tall except dwarf varieties ranging from 3 to 7 feet. In warmer climates with longer growing seasons will have larger bushes (up to 15 feet tall)" (Edible Landscaping). Pomegranates are self pollinating, but it's encouraged that another pomegranate tree is present for pollination. It will take 2-3 years to start bearing fruit. The Russian Pomegranate survives USDA gardening Zones 6-10.

photo: Edible Landscaping

Lingonberry (Cowberry)
Vaccinium vitis-idaea

This shrub is native to the Arctic tundra throughout the Northern Hemisphere from Eurasia to North America. It reaches 12 to 18 inches in height. "It is extremely hardy, tolerating temperatures as low as −40 °C (−40 °F) or lower, but grows poorly where summers are hot. It prefers some shade (as from a forest canopy) and constantly moist, acidic soil. Nutrient-poor soils are tolerated but not alkaline soils" (Vaccinium vitis-idaea). Because it is so cold tolerant, the berry does not produce reliably in warmer climates like Zone 9-11. "Lingonberries are self-pollinating, but cross-pollination will produce larger fruits that ripen earlier...Bumblebees are the best natural lingonberry pollinators. Plants need two to three years to begin bearing good crops" (NGA). 

photo: Alaska in Pictures

The Medlar
Mespilus germanica

"Indigenous to southwest Asia and also southeastern Europe, especially the Black Sea coasts of Bulgaria and of modern Turkey. It may have been cultivated for as long as 3000 years...Requires warm summers and mild winters and prefers sunny, dry locations and slightly acidic soil. Under ideal circumstances, the deciduous plant grows up to 8 metres (26 ft) tall" (Mespilus germanica). Generally has a lifespan of 30-50 years, and is shorter and more shrub-like than tree-like. 

photo source


Hawthorn berry


"Native to temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere in Europe, Asia and North America. The name "hawthorn" was originally applied to the species native to northern Europe, especially the common hawthorn C. monogyna, and the unmodified name is often so used in Britain and Ireland. The name is now also applied to the entire genus and to the related Asian genus Rhaphiolepis...the Common Hawthorn, C. monogyna, are edible but the [flavor] has been compared to over-ripe apples...the fruits of the species Crataegus pinnatifida (Chinese hawthorn) are tart, bright red, and resemble small crabapple fruits." (Crataegus).

photo source

Silver buffaloberry

 Shepherdia argentea

This thorny, deciduous shrub grows up to 20 feet tall. It is native to northern and western North America. The plant grows in USDA Zone 2, so it tolerates cold winters, drought and also tolerates infertile soil. 

photo: Blackfoot Native Plants


 Rubus parviflorus

 "Native to western and northern North America, and the Great Lakes region...Thimbleberry fruits are larger, flatter, and softer than raspberries" (Rubus parviflorus). The plant reaches up to 10 feet tall and blooms white petals. The leads grow to 10 inches long, fuzzy, deciduous maple-like shape. The plant needs Full sun to shade with moist to dry, humus rich soil. "Thimbleberries do not grow well on sandy or gravelly soils, but in the Northwest, a small percentage grow in wet soils" (Rainy side Gardeners).

photo: Health Home Gardening

This list of Fruit bushes and trees are a fraction of what is possible to grow in cold climates. As plant species continue to cross-pollinate, there will be that much more fruit to grow. Of course there are many more varieties of Berries and Currants that grow in cold climates, For example, Sourberry (Rhus trilobata), Wax Currant (ribes cereum), American silverberry (elaeagnus commutata), Creeping barberry (mahonia repen), boysenberry, huckleberry, dewberry, tayberry, youngberry, and Marionberry. 


Do not limit yourself to fruit bushes and common cold hardy fruits. From GardenWeb.com, one gardener said he was growing a Papaya tree in Zone 5/6a, which he grows in a container outside during the Summer, and he brings the Papaya tree inside during the Winter next to a South facing window. I was very shocked that he even posted pictures of his Papaya harvest. Click the link for details and pictures of the Papaya growing in a cold climate: Fruiting Papaya in Zone 5/6


Northern gardeners grow sub tropical fruits like Limes, Lemons, Mandarin oranges, as well as tropical pineapple and Mangoes in containers. When growing Fruit plants in containers, you will be able to relocate the fruit inside your home or in a greenhouse where it will be protected over winter. I have a post on Growing Fruit in Containers: Grow Veggies & Fruit trees in Containers (Limited Space & U...

If Papaya can be grown in a container or in a greenhouse, I believe Feijoa, Surinam Cherry, Pineapple Guava, Cold Hardy Avocado, Cavendish Banana, Dragon fruit, and Loquats can be grown in cold to mild climates such as Zone 4-7. Growing many of the varieties of Tropical fruit trees can be achieved through Underground Greenhouses, growing in containers indoors, compost heating/Hugelkultur methods, artificial lighting/heating.

Original post @ List of Uncommon Cold Hardy Fruit Trees (Gardening Zones 3-7)

-Cassie K, Vegans Living Off the Land

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Comment by Cassie K on November 15, 2014 at 7:33am

If anyone knows other cold hardy fruits I did not list, please list them :)


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