What Nut Trees Grow In Massachusetts? (5 Varieties To Grow)


Nut trees are a great feature to add to a Massachusetts garden.  However, not every type of nut tree is hardy to the winter cold and frost in Massachusetts.

So, what fruit trees grow in Massachusetts?  Some of the best nut trees to grow in Massachusetts are black walnut, butternut, chestnut, filbert (hazelnut), and hickory. It is also possible to grow cold hardy varieties of almonds and other nuts on a small scale in Massachusetts.

Of course, there are some factors to consider when choosing a nut tree.  For example, some nut trees need a second tree of the same type nearby to ensure proper pollination.

In this article, we’ll take a closer look nut trees you can grow in Massachusetts.  We’ll also talk about what to expect from each of these trees.

Let’s begin.

What Nut Trees Grow In Massachusetts?

Some of the best nut trees to grow in Massachusetts (USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 5a to 7b) are:

black walnut tree
Black Walnut is one type of nut tree that grows in Massachusetts.

To decide which type of nut tree is right for you, consider these factors:

  • when the tree will produce nuts (years to maturity and harvest window).
  • the amount of nuts you will get per tree (yield).
  • tree size and space required.
  • pollination – whether the tree is self pollinating, or requires a second tree of the same type.

Let’s start with years to maturity.

When Do Nut Trees Produce Nuts?

Most nut trees take at least 3 years to mature fully, to the point where they can produce nuts.  However, some can take up to 10 years to start producing nuts.

Eastern Hickory Tree
A hickory tree can take up to 10 years to start producing nuts.

Also, remember that nut trees are 1 or 2 years old when transplanted (such as those from Stark Brothers).  If you buy more mature nut trees, then they may produce nuts sooner.

  • Black Walnut – black walnut trees will start producing nuts 4 to 5 years after transplant (4 to 7 years for seedlings).  The nuts on a black walnut tree ripen in early October.
  • Butternut – butternut trees will start producing nuts 2 to 3 years after transplant.  The nuts on a butternut tree ripen in late August or September.
  • Chestnut – chestnut trees will start producing nuts 3 to 5 years after transplant.  The nuts on a chestnut tree ripen in September.
  • Filbert (Hazelnut) – filbert trees will start producing nuts 6 to 8 years after transplant.  The nuts on a filbert (hazelnut) tree ripen in August or September.
  • Hickory – hickory trees will start producing nuts 8 to 10 years after transplant.  The nuts on a hickory tree ripen in late September.

The table below summarizes the years to nut production and harvest months for nut trees in Massachusetts.

Nut
Tree
Years To
Harvest
Harvest
Months
Black
Walnut
4-7early
October
Butternut2-3late
August or
September
Chestnut3-5September
Hazelnut
(Filbert)
6-8August or
September
Hickory8-10late
September
This table summarizes the years to nut production
and harvest months for nut trees in Massachusetts.

How Tall Do Nut Trees Grow?

The height and width of a nut tree depends on a couple of factors:

  • the age of the tree
  • the type of nut tree

It can take several years for a nut tree to grow to its full height and width.

butternut tree
A butternut tree (White Walnut) can grow up to 50 feet tall and wide!
Image Courtesy of H. Zell via Wikimedia Commons: https://commons.wikimedia
.org/wiki/File:
Juglans_cinerea_001.JPG
  • Black Walnut – black walnut trees will grow to a height of 40 to 60 feet tall and 40 to 60 feet wide.
  • Butternut – butternut trees will grow to a height of 40 to 50 feet tall and 40 to 50 feet wide.
  • Chestnut – Chinese chestnut trees will grow to a height of 30 to 40 feet tall and 30 to 40 feet wide.
  • Filbert (Hazelnut) – filbert (hazelnut) trees will grow to a height of 10 to 20 feet and 10 to 20 feet wide.
  • Hickory – hickory trees will grow to a height of 30 to 40 feet tall and 30 to 40 feet wide.

The table below summarizes the height and width for nut trees in Massachusetts.

Nut
Tree
Height
(feet)
Width
(feet)
Black
Walnut
40-6040-60
Butternut40-5040-50
Chestnut30-4030-40
Hazelnut
(Filbert)
10-2010-20
Hickory30-4030-40
This table summarizes the height and
width for nut trees in Massachusetts.

Do You Need Two Nut Trees To Produce Nuts?

This depends on the tree and whether it is self-pollinating or not.  A nut tree is self-pollinating (or self-fruitful) if its flowers contain both male and female parts.

Otherwise, the tree is self-unfruitful, and such a tree requires cross pollination to produce nuts.  This means that you need at least two trees, usually of different varieties, in order to successfully cross pollinate your trees and produce nuts.

Note that you can still plant two or more of a type of nut tree, even if it does not need other trees for pollination. In some cases, this will increase the yield of the trees.

chestnut tree
Chestnut trees are not self-pollinating, so you will need another chestnut variety within 50 feet for pollination.

Let’s look at whether each of our tree choices is self-pollinating or not.

  • Black Walnut – black walnut trees are not self-pollinating.  You will need another variety of black walnut tree within 75 to 200 feet to ensure proper pollination.
  • Butternut – butternut trees are self-pollinating, so you only need one tree to produce nuts.
  • Chestnut – chestnut trees are not self-pollinating.  You will need another variety of chestnut tree within 50 feet to ensure proper pollination.
  • Filbert (Hazelnut) – filbert (hazelnut) trees are not self-pollinating.  You will need another variety of filbert (hazelnut) tree within 50 feet to ensure proper pollination.
  • Hickory – hickory trees are not self-pollinating.  You will need another variety of hickory tree within 75 to 200 feet to ensure proper pollination.

The table below summarizes the pollination requirements for nut trees in Massachusetts.

Nut
Tree
Pollination
Black
Walnut
need 2 trees
of different
varieties
(75-200 feet)
Butternutneed 1 tree
(self
pollinating)
Chestnutneed 2 trees
of different
varieties
(50 feet)
Hazelnut
(Filbert)
need 2 trees
of different
varieties
(50 feet)
Hickoryneed 2 trees
of different
varieties
(75-200 feet)
This table summarizes the
pollination requirements for
nut trees in Massachusetts.

Remember that self-pollination does not mean guaranteed pollination.  You can still see a lack of nuts, even with flowers, if there are not enough pollinators (bees, hummingbirds, etc.) in your yard.

Can Almond Trees Grow In Massachusetts?

It is possible to grow almonds in Massachusetts.  In fact, Wikipedia suggests that some almond trees are grown as far north as Iceland.

However, you will need to choose cold hardy almond varieties or protect them from the frost that comes with winter in Massachusetts.

almond tree
You can grow certain types of almond trees in Massachusetts if you can avoid frost damage.

For example, Hall’s Hardy Almond from Stark Brothers is hardy in USDA Zones 5 to 8.  This almond tree is a peach-almond hybrid, and it is self-pollinating, so you will get nuts with only one tree.

Shelterwood Forest Farm also recommends Javid’s Iranian Almond, which has grown well for them in Zone 6.  This almond tree is disease resistant, self-pollinating, and hardy up to Zone 5.

Commercial almond production on a large scale is feasible in a place like California, but not in Massachusetts.

You can learn more about almond trees in this article from the Utah State University Extension.

Where Can I Learn More About Nut Trees?

You can learn more about Black Walnut Trees in this article from the Penn State University Extension.

You can learn more about Butternut Trees in this article from the University of New Hampshire Extension.

You can learn more about American Chestnut Trees in this article from the Penn State University Extension.

You can learn more about Chinese Chestnut Trees in this article from the University of Missouri Extension.

You can learn more about Filbert (Hazelnut) Trees in this article from the Oregon State University Extension.

You can learn more about Hickory Trees in this article from Wikipedia.

Hazelnut Filbert Tree
Hazelnut (filbert) trees grow 10 to 20 feet tall and wide.

Keep in mind that you can graft nut trees by using different varieties for the rootstock and scion.  You can learn more about grafting nut trees in this article from the University of Missouri Extension.

Conclusion

Now you know about some nut trees that you can grow in Massachusetts.  You also know what to expect if you plant these trees in your yard.

You might also want to check out my article on fruit trees to grow in Massachusetts.

I hope you found this article helpful.  If so, please share it with someone who can use the information.

If you want to read some of my most popular posts, check out the “Best of GreenUpSide” page here.  Enjoy!

~Jonathon

jonathon.david.madore

Hi, I'm Jon. Let's solve your gardening problems, spend more time growing, and get the best harvest every year!

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