Columnar Fruit Trees

Examples of Columnar fruit trees in production

What are Columnar Fruit Trees

Columnar Fruit Trees grow upwards and not out. They do not produce the space consuming side branches that nearly all trees do, but grow in a climbing spire. This ‘columnar’ growth habit not only makes for pleasing eye candy, it saves space enabling those growers with limited land capacity to have productive and attractive fruit laden trees in a small expanse of land. A small yard, balcony, a corner or even a hedgerow can easily accomodate a columnar fruit tree.

Growing Columnar Fruit Trees

So far as growing a columnar fruit tree – other than pruning, the same care that would be associated with standard fruit trees should be applied. Hardiness zones, sun -shade requirements, temperature range, soil fertility, and pollination requirements do not change simply because of the trees growth habit. Fruits such as apples still require at least two distinct varieties to set fruit, grafted trees would be needed if you only plan on growing one.

Minarette Fruit Trees

Minarettes are not Colonnade or Columnar Fruit trees, they as standard apple or pear trees that have been trained and vigorously pruned to attain a columnar effect. This is generally done with Apples, Pears and figs. It is possible to train stone fruits as minarettes but is a tad more problematic. The growth habit of stone fruits is not as well-suited to the steady consistent pruning that is needed to maintain the columnar effect. There are stone fruits, particularly Peaches bred as columnar, their spread however is not as compact as the apple varieties.

Cordon Fruit Trees

A cordon fruit tree, like a minarette is also not a columnar tree. It too has been vigorously pruned to concentrate fruit production along a central stem.

The difference between cordon and minarette is that the angle of the cordons branches match that of the stem. The branches grow vertically up along the central leader.

The quality of fruit grown on a cordon is generally superior to minarettes and some say to columnar. Sunlight more readily penetrates the canopy and side foliage of these trees which aids in the ripening process and allows the fruits to concentrate more natural sugars.

Both cordons and minarettes will revert to normal growth habits if pruning is not continued, they are high maintainence.