Fruit trees that produce food crops for human consumption grow everywhere in the U.S., including temperate, sub-tropical and tropical regions. Different regions favor different types of trees, and although the varieties are not interchangeable, they share many similar care requirements, including programs of regular pruning, insect control and weed management. While most fruit in this country is grown commercially in large orchards, there are many varieties that are suitable for the home gardener.
Members of the Prunus family are known as stone fruits because they contain a large, hard seed or pit. Peaches, nectarines, plums, apricots and cherries fall into this category. Some stone fruits can be grown in the extreme northern U.S., but stone fruits usually prefer the more temperate regions between USDA hardiness zones 5 and 6.
Apples and pears are known as pome fruits and have been cultivated for centuries. Apples originated 2,000 years ago in eastern Europe and western Asia, while pears have been cultivated in China for at least 3,000 years (see Reference 1 below). Loquats and quince are also pome fruits, but these acidic fruits are not as widely grown or eaten.
Citrus trees are usually evergreen and the fruits are called hesperidium. Citrus fruits are fleshy berries with a rind that can be peeled. Well-known members of the citrus family are oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes, but kumquats, pummelos and ugli fruits are members, too. All are acidic and rich in vitamin C.
Oranges and apples are the most widely grown fruit trees. California and Florida produce the most oranges, while Washington, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania are the top apple producers. Washington also leads the nation in pear production, followed by California. Despite its reputation, Georgia ranks third in peach production.
Unusual Fruit Trees
The Jackfruit tree produces the largest fruits in the world. Most weigh between 20 and 30 pounds but can grow as large as 100 pounds. This native of India is related to the mulberry.
Miracle fruit (Synsepalum dulcificum) looks like an coffee bean before roasting, and has very little flavor. But when eaten, it causes a reaction in your mouth that makes sour foods taste sweet.