Hello. I am compiling my big list of plants that I want to order and plant from seed. I am hoping to create a wild foods forest, growing plants in my wild foods books rather than conventional annual row crops. I have completed the list of trees so far.
I am in north Arkansas, this is the second year of drought here and I would like to plant accordingly, on the assumptional that there will be more dry years and I won't be irrigating.
Cornus: Cornelian Cherry
Alnus: Grey alder
Amelanchier: Running juneberry
Eleagnus: Autumn olive
Malus: Crab apple, apples will be from seed so I will probably get lots of variety.
Persea: Red bay
Prunus: all of 'em
Sophora: Pagoda tree
Most of these trees are either edible or N fixing, and I tried to have a good mix of sizes and root styles. Do you think they would all be tough enough for the ozarks?
Much thanks to Edible Forest Gardens, by David Jacke
I'd add to the list:
Juniper -- bearing in mind that not all things sold as junipers have edible berries.
Hackberry -- although I have several and have never seen a single fruit. Either squirrels and bird get them or mine are somehow defective.
Trifoliate orange -- kind of edible.
Maybe figs if you have a protected area. Some people in zone 6 manage to grow them.
Redbud trees have edible blooms.
Since you included some shrubs in your list, you could add beautyberry and blackberries, although I'd find some local wild ones that are tasty doing well and take cuttings of those instead of buying named cultivars which are usually not as drought tolerant.
Many prunus sp. are definitely not drought tolerant but some are very tough.
Autumn olive is very invasive so I personally wouldn't plant it.
We are south of you in Stone county ...Some of the mostly native things that grow really well here and probably near you are persimmons (our favorite fruit, wild or domestic), muscadines( produce really well if you can prune a bit and give them sun and support), sumac, mulberry, pawpaw, the coveted black and honeylocust, some gooseberries and currents, wild blackberries and raspberries. All survive without irregation but I think in the wild they all produce alot of seedlings to allow the heartiest to survive. Between odd late freezes and frosts, deer and rabbits and woodchucks and squirrels it is really amazing what the forest can provide.
We have found that anything we plant needs deer protection and watering at least for a year or so especially now. We tend to work with what is already native to our forest and give it a little help. Smaller mostly native plants that do well here with no extra water are echinacea, passion flower vine, yarrow ,elder flower, St johns worts, self heal, bergamot, redbuds...I forgot huckleberries...thirty to forty years ago we picked and picked, they were wonderful but rarely has there been a good year since but the plants are everywhere.
Some things you just won't know without trying. Trees and shrubs may be right for the zone but not be able to surive the humidity or the insect population let alone the periods of heavy rains then drought..
"We're all just walking each other home." -Ram Dass
"Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder."-Rumi
Location: Ozarks zone 7 alluvial,black,deep clay/loam with few rocks, wonderful creek bottom!
Castanea: chestnuts. Mine are all small but I have seen larger ones with good crops (unirrigated) last year in the area (I'm in the ozarks too, in MO). I have many young chestnuts from different sources, and the variation is amazing. Some broke dormancy almost a month after others that were less than 100 ft away. Chestnuts are a great food crop, one of the few temperate tree crops that can be used as a staple because it's more starchy than most nuts.
Also look at xanthoceras sorbifolia (yellowhorn nut). Mine are small as well so I can't vouch for their yield and long-term health here, but they've done well with far less watering than is usually needed for young establishing trees in a drought year.
Persimmons are a great choice, besides our native persimmons, some asian varieties are fully hardy here too. They can be grafted onto established wild persimmon rootstock and then no watering is needed.
One of the most useful links as far as fruit growing for me is this, http://conev.org/fruitbook4.pdf the author's in Virginia so doesn't deal with as droughty or extreme weather as us, but a lot of the info is applicable here.