Altitude affects all living things, and most of these effects vary from individual to individual and tress to tress; that is why some can live in high mountains and experience no change in their health and life.
Others who climb up a mountain or live in any elevated land begin to experience tiredness, headaches, dizziness, etc. This symptom can progress to High Acute Pulmonary Edema ( HAPE).
The same way some can stay in high altitude environments successfully, and others cannot, that is the same way some trees can do well in mountainous areas while others cannot.
Some trees can grow in high-altitude areas, and these trees have the adaptation to thrive there. Some of these trees are deciduous trees, some conifers, fruit trees, and the likes.
It can be difficult to grow fruit at high altitudes, especially if you have to do so in the winter. Selecting the right fruits to grow at a high altitude makes all the difference, so make sure you choose carefully. Read along, to know the best thriving high altitude fruit trees and the special care they require.
What is High Altitude Fruit Trees
The sea level is used as the basis for measuring the height of elevation of a place. Hence altitude is the distance above sea level that land is situated.
A place is considered high altitude if it is 8,000 to 12,000 feet above mean sea level. To put this in context and help you better understand the concept of altitude: New York City is a land just 33 feet above sea level, while the Grand Canyon sits as high as 6000 feet above sea level.
Very high altitudes are areas that fall between 12,000 to 18,000 feet above sea level. El Alto in Bolivia is an excellent example of a city that falls into this altitude range since the city is 13,615 feet above sea level.
The extremely high altitude areas are those places that are more than 18,000 feet above sea level, and the Summit of Mount Everest in Nepal falls into this category since it stands more than 29,000 feet above sea level.
Hence, high altitude fruit trees are fruit trees that can grow and survive at high altitudes. Not every fruit tree can thrive at high altitudes because trees that survive at high altitudes usually possess adaptive features like smaller or thinner vascular pathways than regular trees.
At high altitudes, the growing season often lasts only a few months, between June and September. Despite high temperatures during the daytime, temperatures tend to drop during the night, and unexpected frost is possible.
High altitudes are characterized by rocky and coarse soil, and there are often strong winds. Also, alpine to desert climates is common in high altitudes.
To survive harsh weather conditions, fruits that grow at high altitudes must be hardy. Because of shorter growing seasons, they also have to bloom late and mature early.
Examples of high altitude fruit trees are apple, apricot, pear, plum, and sour cherry varieties that grow most successfully in high altitude conditions.
What Fruit Trees Grow At High Altitude?
There are specific types of trees that can grow in high-altitude areas because there is a difference in the climatic conditions of these areas.
For one, their growing season is short, the temperature is usually cold at night, the soils are coarse and rocky, and the atmosphere is windy times.
Here are some of the trees that can withstand these harsh weather conditions that high altitude lands present:
Some pear species thrive in high altitudes; these are very hardy species. Some produce fruits sparsely, but they have a perfect spring flower display, and their filling is brilliant in the fall. These pear species include Harbin Pear, Flemish Beauty, Ussurian, John, Summercrisp, and others.
Apple trees grow and reproduce lots of fruits at high altitudes because they are pretty hardy and can withstand the harsh climatic condition of such places. Red Rome and Snowsweet are two of the varieties that can be grown at high altitudes.
Some plums will grow and produce a lot of fruit at high altitudes, some of them will flower and start fruiting, but their fruits will not set.
The Newport plum is an example of such a variety of plums; the tree is, however, attractive with beautiful flowers in spring. Varieties of plum-like the underwood, Stanley, and mount Royal are all magnificent trees to plant at high altitudes because they produce flowers and fruits abundantly.
The Eastern and Western Chokecherry are species of the plant that thrive at high altitudes. Most chokecherry trees perform very well at high altitudes because they are adapted to withstand weather conditions.
Crabapple is a fruit that is hardy and so can survive in areas of high altitude. The Crabapple centurion is the hardiest species of fruit. They flourish in high altitudes; it is renowned for their solid hardiness and ability to produce well in freezing weather.
Another reason why this species is widespread is that it is disease-resistant. Other varieties of plum that thrives at high altitude are Thunderchild, Dolgo, and Spring Snow.
6. Shadblow Serviceberry
This is an excellent choice for a small garden or orchard at a high altitude; this tree, like a shrub, can spread naturally by suckering. Its fruit is tiny and purplish-blue; the fruits turn red in fall.
How Altitude Affects The Climatic Condition In which Trees Grow
Altitude in itself does not constitute a challenge for trees; the problem is that it modifies the area’s climate, and the climates directly impact how trees fare. Hence, high altitude indirectly affects the growth of plants.
The effect of altitude on trees with regards to climate can be seen in these climatic factors:
1. Air pressure
In higher altitudes, the air pressure is reduced, and this means that trees found in such areas have less carbon dioxide, which is a necessary ingredient that plants need to make their food, resulting in stunted growth.
Secondly, the low air pressure leads to a reduction in the rate of transpiration which further affects the growth of these trees because the rate of photosynthesis is greatly reduced. The consequence is that the growth of the tree is hampered.
The light intensity and radiation of high elevation areas are pretty high because of the thinner atmosphere. These areas have more hours of sunlight too.
This had a positive impact on the rate of photosynthesis, which is how light and carbon dioxide yield food for the plants in the presence of water.
However, too much exposure to sunlight can scorch the trees, which is a disadvantage of high altitude.
The temperatures in high-altitude areas are usually lower, and this is because of the thin atmosphere and low air pressure. Lower temperature means that only temperate kinds of trees will thrive in such places.
All things have been equal; a tree exposed to a lower temperature than is adequate for optimum growth will be less productive than in an ideal temperature. So colder weather of high-altitude land will stop some trees from thriving.
Wind affects trees at high altitudes because it impacts the area’s relative humidity, which affects the amount of water the tree loses.
High altitude areas are windier and therefore have less relative humidity and what this means is that more water will be lost from the trees, which means you will have drier trees.
Most high-altitude areas are usually sloped, implying that the land has good drainage as water moves downhill. This constitutes a challenge in summer when the soil gets too dry because of run-off down the slope of any water in the soil.
This water run-off is most problematic because some of the nutrients in the soil leach away with the water, reducing the amount of nutrients accessible to the trees.
Generally speaking, the higher the altitude of a place, the more precipitation it gets. The side of the high-altitude ground that is facing the prevailing wind will invariably get more precipitation than the other sides.
Water is in relative abundance in these mountainous lands. Sometimes the dews that collect on the ground can be so heavy that it looks as if it rained.
All these climatic factors affect the type of trees that can be grown in high-altitude areas. Still, one common thing is that the trees in these areas spend more time than normal establishing their root system before they abruptly begin to grow in their shoots.
Caring For Fruits Trees In High Altitude
The high altitude of some places requires that you care for the trees, plant them well, and give them a lot of attention. Here are a few helpful tips on caring for the trees that you have in high altitude lands:
Water the trees more frequently and more slowly, especially if the land is not on the prevailing side of the wind because the precipitation will be low on that side. Watering slowly, especially newly planted trees, helps them to become drought resistant.
The watering regime for trees in the high-altitude ground should be consistent. A garden hose or drip irrigation system will release water slowly to the plants, and the amount of water you give will depend on the thickness of the tree.
On average, 5 minutes of water for every inch of the diameter of a tree is adequate. So for a tree that is 4 inches in diameter, you water it for 20 minutes.
The watering frequency depends on the time of the year; you should water once a month in winter and once in 2 weeks in spring. In summer, you should water every other week and then once in 2 weeks in fall.
The Base Of The Tree Should Be Mulched
Muk Hong is essential for trees in the high-altitude ground because it helps the soil retain its moisture; it also helps maintain the soil’s temperature while helping to keep weeds away.
At most, 3 inches of mulch should be added to the base of the tree within the dripline, but the mulch must not touch the tree’s trunk; a distance of about 5 inches from the tree trunk is okay because you want the tree trunk to be visible.
Apply Fertilizer Regularly
Because many of the high-altitude lands are rocky and lack the essential nutrient that the trees need to thrive, you must add fertilizer to boost the nutrient content of the soul that is made available to plants to grow.
To keep these trees from being stunted on growth or showing the deficiency symptoms of some nutrient, you should maintain a good regime of fertilizer application. Buy the specific type of fertilizer your trees need and apply them correctly.
Prune The Trees Regularly
Pruning the trees in high-altitude lands is essential because it helps remove diseased and dead parts of the plant from the tree and allows the sun’s rays to get to all parts of the tree.
Pruning also helps keep a tree to a manageable height while also reducing the occurrence of diseases and pests.
Use Tree wraps For Some Types Of Trees In Winter.
Some deciduous trees tend for their barks to get damaged or even spilled in winter, and hence you should wrap these trees in a tree trunk to avert this.
When there is high intensity of sunlight in winter, the bark of some trees usually peels, which can affect the health and life span of the tree, which can lead to its death. Hence the tree wrap helps to keep the tree healthy and strong.
Adaptations In Trees That Help Them To Thrive In High Altitude
There are different physical and behavioral changes or characteristics in an organism that helps them to survive in an otherwise unbearable condition; these characteristics and behaviors are the adaptions of the organism that helps it survive an adverse environment.
The adaptations in trees found on the high altitudes that help them thrive in these harsh conditions despite all odds are inherent. These distinct features will help you pinpoint trees that can stand those climatic and soil conditions; they include:
If you have ever taken note, you will see that trees that grow well in mountainous areas always have their branches sloping.
This is not just a feature of the trees but an adaptation that helps them get rid of snow from hanging in them.
In heavy storms and rain, snowfall and hang on tree and tree branches whose weight weighs down the tree and, if allowed, cause the branches to rot.
But because of the sloping nature of the branches of these trees at high altitudes, the snow and water slope down.
The Trees Have A Cone Shape
The sloppy nature of the branches of trees in high altitude prevents a snow build-up on the tree but makes the snow slope to the ground.
It is the same way that the cone shape of the trees in these areas stops snow and rain from accumulating and constituting a menace to the tree.
Needle Shaped Leaves
The needle shape of the leaves of trees in high altitudes is an adaptation that helps to reduce the amount of water that the tree loses from the leaves.
Because these needle-shaped leaves have less surface area, they lose just a little water from the tiny pores in their leaves during photosynthesis. This needle leaves also have a waxy covering that helps conserve all the moisture and keep it from being lost to the atmosphere.
The second advantage of these needle-like leaves is that the trees do not need to grow new leaves in spring. This is helpful because growing new leaves yearly is stressful to the tree. With the needle-like leaves of these trees in high altitude, it allows the tree to photosynthesize all through the year,
Thick Bark On The Trees
This is another adaptation in trees that grow in high elevation that helps conserve water in the tree because, unlike the thin barks in other trees that allows water to be lost from them, these trees have barks that are so thick that water cannot easily be lost from them to the environment.
These barks are also good in maintaining the internal temperature of the tree despite how extreme the weather gets because high altitudes can be very cold when it is cold and too hot when it is hot.
Asides from all these, the thick barks protect the trees from being attacked by animals, insects, and pests and can also be resistant to fire.
The Cones Protect The Seeds
Most trees in high-altitude areas produce cones that have their seeds inside. The cones keep the seeds safe against harsh atmospheric conditions like freezing temperatures. Pinecones can close their scales tightly to protect the seeds from both animals and the weather.
Conclusion: High Altitude Fruit Trees
If you live in a high-altitude area, you must have realized that there is a difference in the weather condition there compared to low altitudes; this difference affects all living things, including trees.
High altitude modifies the climatic environment in which plants grow, especially trees, and hence not all trees can grow in such areas because of the harsh weather conditions.
Conifers, pines, and deciduous trees can survive in these extreme weather, and they must be well taken care of if they must thrive.
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We trust this article helped you understand high altitude fruit trees. You may also want to check out if Acorns Are Harmful To Grass (Best Way To Pick Up Acorns)
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