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We are looking to plant some fruit trees in an open space with rocky soil which gets direct, and sometimes harsh sunlight. We hope that getting some trees in this area to provide shade will help to also increase the humidity the ground holds.

We are looking to at least grow some apple trees. Any suggestions on varieties that grow well in Missouri?

What other fruit trees do well in Missouri?

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This sounds like a job for the Missouri Botanical Garden's PlantFinder! Using that tool, you can search for "shade tree" and "edible fruit", and the site will return 28 plant descriptions, including specifics on how each variety does in Missouri.

Of the edible-fruit trees, it looks like most of the natives like Hackberry, Hardy Pecan, and Black Walnut prefer moister soils; it's possible you might have more success with exotics like Turkish Hazel.

You'll notice that if you uncheck "edible fruit" and choose "shade tree" and "shallow/rocky soils", one of the suggested trees is the native Post Oak, which although not exactly a fruit tree would provide shade and acorns for your wildlife.

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I think planting trees is a worthwhile endeavor for any reason, but keep in mind that though all will provide decent shade, they may not all offer the ease of pollination, cultivation, harvest that you may want to deal with. Some self-pollinate, some cross. Others take many seasons to produce viable fruit, and others have their fruit eaten by animals before you can get your hands on them.

The harsh sunlight shouldn't be much trouble with mature trees, but you should be wary of winter. Once established the rocky soil will become less of an issue as trees are generally hardy once they've taken root.

I would look at the following fruit and nut trees.

  • Pecan
  • Persimmon
  • Black (or any) cherry (possible, but I wouldn't recommend)
  • Orange (Osage is a common variety)
  • Mulberry (messy)
  • Plum (especially adapted for full sun)
  • Apple (Enterprise and Liberty are common cultivar recommendations)
  • Apricots and Peaches (most varieties should be fine)
  • Pears

Plant a variety to keep pests to a minimum. I'd recommend buying mature trees, otherwise you'll be waiting years for a harvest of any sort and will certainly be without shade.

  • We aren't particularly looking for a harvest for ourselves. We would enjoy any fruit or nuts, but we just wanting to add some trees to the area from which we and the animals will also benefit. – abroad-and-away Apr 6 '14 at 22:21
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    I second the idea about Osage Orange - a cool plant with a very interesting history! (Note, not an orange in anything but name). – Oreotrephes Apr 10 '14 at 14:21
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Osage Orange...orange heartwood when fresh cut. Large thorns. Large nuisance fruits that really aren't good for much. Wood used for Fence posts...very resistant to rot, but they will take root.

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