7 specimen tree suggestions
A pear tree grows large and sprawling and, best of all, produces pears. While you may not want to climb 10m to pick a pear, your grandchildren are going to build tree-huts amongst the tasty treats. The birds will love them and the stock will wait underneath for those that fall to the ground.
Tip: when the tree is well-grown, plant a grapevine at the base. It will wind its way up and provide a wonderful fruit salad to those camped in the tree hut.
One big walnut tree can provide enough to feed several families. The livestock get shelter and you get ample tasty nuts.
However, walnuts secrete a substance called juglone from their roots that can inhibit grass growing underneath them. This is not obvious in a healthy soil ecology but when combined with heavy stock camping under it, the ground underneath can turn to mud, so walnuts are not a good choice for damp areas.
A weeping willow is a graceful tree and stock will trim the drooping branches to a perfect line.
They transpire a lot of moisture which helps to dry out wet, boggy ground and will grow most anywhere. Unfortunately they can be attacked by the newly-immigrated giant willow aphid.
They are fantastic stock food too. In a drought when grass is short, the branches can be cut and fed out.
Poplars are another good stock tree that NZ farmers have planted on their farms for food and shelter.
Poplar leaves contain zinc which stock need to combat facial eczema. They also shed their leaves in a drought, which are happily consumed by stock.
Poplar trees can be relatively short-lived, about 50-80 years.
Oak have palatable leaves, and the acorns dropped by oaks are a good source of fodder in autumn. Sudden and excessive amounts of green acorns can be poisonous (and even fatal) but aged, brown acorns are a great source of carbohydrates that stock, pigs and ducks love. Remove stock from under oaks in early autumn, especially if there is a storm which can cause a large, sudden drop of acorns.
Oaks are a stately, long-lived tree and some can provide stunning autumn colour.
Also called the honey locust, these trees grow large, edible seed pods that look like large beans. They can show lovely colour too. They have the added benefit of being nitrogen fixers, absorbing nitrogen from the air and converting it to nitrates in the soil for your grass to access.
This species does not grow as large as the other suggestions and trees often have thorns. However there are thornless varieties.
Alder are a very quick-growing, medium-sized tree that can provide stunning autumn colour, and also fix nitrogen. If you eventually use the wood it is extremely durable. Most of the pilings of Venice are made from alder wood.
LEFT: An old pear tree at Huia in the Waitakere Ranges has been producing food and shelter for as long as locals can remember. BELOW: Stock nibble the weeping willow, pruning a perfect ceiling to camp under at the Guthrie Smith Arboreturm at Tutira, Hawkes Bay.