Top 10 Fruits of Humboldt Bay
Choose wisely and enjoy for years to come.
by Sean Armstrong & Tamara McFarland
No gardener wants to waste precious time, money or garden space on a fruit tree that fails to produce. You can avoid the unique heartbreak that results from planting a tree or shrub that is destined to fail in our unique coastal climate by choosing a variety from this list, which features top picks from Sean Armstrong, editor of the community-sourced booklet ‘Fruits of the Humboldt Bay.’
Hard copies of this booklet can sometimes be found at local independent booksellers. It is also available as a free download here.
BEST STONE FRUIT: ARCTIC QUEEN NECTARINE
(Acca sellowiana) A sweet and complicated white fleshed nectarine with red skin, Arctic Queen is known to fruit prolifically in Arcata. Other ‘Arctic’ varieties including Glo, Jay, Rose, and Star are related low-chill varieties and also likely successes.
RUNNER UP STONE FRUIT: BEAUTY PLUM
(Prunus domestica) Beauty is a local standard – a dependable, sweet and juicy plum. Methley is another proven sweet success. Both are more productive in cool, rainy climates than the more widely adapted Santa Rosa variety.
BEST APPLE: SEEDLESS CENTENNIAL CRABAPPLE
(Malus domestica) Fruits early and flowers on the late side, thus avoiding the rainy shoulders of our dry summer. Fruits are attractive as well as juicy, bright, complex, sweet and aromatic. You may want to thin the 2” fruits some years to prevent branch breakage.
RUNNER UP APPLE: PINK PEARL
(Malus domestica) The pink-to-magenta sweet-tart flesh tastes of raspberries and is best fresh but makes an incredibly beautiful sauce. This extraordinary local heirloom was bred by Albert Etter near modern-day Ettersville in SoHum.
BEST TROPICAL FLAVOR: PINEAPPLE GUAVA
(Acca sellowiana) This Brazilian native fruits after 10-15 years, but you can enjoy its sweet flower petals while you wait. Successful examples are growing at CCAT on HSU’s campus and the Potowot Community Garden.
BEST PEAR: HAMESE
(Pyrus pyrifolia) This yellow fleshed variety of Asian Pear is sweet, juicy, and medium-large if thinned early in the season to allow the remaining pears to grow larger. Leave them on the tree until they are swollen and yellowed for best flavor.
BEST FRUITING HEDGEROW: CHILEAN GUAVA
(Myrtus ugni molinae) Berries are ripe when they lighten from red to pink. The taste is pleasantly piney and guava-ey. Evergreen, attractive, and easy to propagate while also providing some of the last fruits of the fall.
BEST STORAGE FRUIT: FUZZY KIWI
(Acca sellowiana) Blake, Hayward and Vincent varieties have been shown to do well. Kiwis grow vines big enough to swallow a house and must be pruned to keep them under control. They are a sexed plant, so a male and a female are necessary for fruit.
BEST INDIGENOUS FRUIT: THIMBLEBERRY
(Rubus parviflorus) Thimbleberry is a native raspberry that will grow to 8+’ in dappled shade. It has tart, brightly flavorful berries.
BEST PERENNIAL VEGETABLE: PERENNIAL KALE
(Brassica oleracea ramosa) Okay, so it’s not a fruit, but trust us – you need to grow this kale. Perennial (meaning it grows year-round, year after year), tough, productive and delicious.