Native Berry-Producing Plants
Native plants offer so many benefits to the living world around us, but many also come with some extras for us! The native berry-producing plants produce edible fruit that appeals to people and wildlife alike. Try planting these awesome berry-producing plants this year!
Shadblow Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis)
This serviceberry shrub will quickly become your favorite landscape plant! This wonderful native plant has something to offer through every season; stunning and fragrant white blooms in the spring, delicious edible berries in the summer, magnificent fall color, and a dense, attractive form that adds to the winter landscape. Butterflies adore the sweet-smelling flowers in the spring, and birds flock to the shrub for a taste of its summer berries!
Native To: Northeastern provinces of Canada, along the east coast of the United States and as far West as Louisiana.
Use Berries For: Fresh eating, baking, jellies, and jams.
Iroquois Beauty Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa Iroquois Beauty™)
This compact chokeberry cultivar offers the benefits of larger chokeberry shrubs in a smaller space. The spring flower display is breathtaking, as is the dramatic yellow, red, and orange fall foliage. While the berries are both edible and praised as a superfood, they are a touch too tart and astringent for most people to enjoy fresh. However, the berries can be made into jellies, and some health food stores sell them dried and in capsules for their antioxidant benefits.
Native To: Low woods, swamps, moist thickets, and bogs throughout North America.
Use Berries For: Making jellies or jams, making syrups, drying and eating as a supplement.
Left: Iroquois Beauty Black Chokeberry, Right: ‘Northland’ Highbush Blueberry
‘Northland’ Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum 'Northland')
Who doesn’t love a sweet, juicy blueberry? Most Americans are familiar with the signature flavor of the fruit, but few have had the privilege of enjoying this phenomenal fruit shrub in the landscape! This highbush blueberry cultivar boasts four-season beauty, with its waxy white flowers in the spring that mature into the classic berry we know and love. Later in the year, the foliage fades to a brilliant shade of orange, and the reddish stems provide a hint of color in the winter. The shrub makes an excellent source of shelter for birds and other wildlife while providing a food source for many creatures through spring and summer.
Native To: Open or wooded swamp and bogs from the Canadian maritime provinces, throughout the Eastern and coastal states down to Texas and the coasts of Florida.
Use Berries For: Fresh eating, baking, jellies, jams, smoothies, and drying for trail mixes.
Adams Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis 'Adams')
Elderberry produces berries that are inedible when fresh, but edible (and quite pleasant!) once cooked down and made into syrups or jellies. However, the ornamental and environmental benefits of the elderberry are so exceptional, one doesn’t need to eat it to enjoy it! The long, attractive foliage is ornamental on its own, but the clusters of white, fragrant, flat-topped spring flowers are simply gorgeous and highly attractive to pollinators. The flowers mature into clusters of very attractive berries in the fall; deep purple in color, with pretty red stems. While people shouldn’t eat the fresh fruit, birds are more than willing to stop by for a snack! This elderberry cultivar is very tolerant of damp soils and is suitable for rain gardens.
Native To: West coast states from southern Washington down through Texas, throughout the Rocky Mountains and into New Mexico.
Use Berries For: Making syrups, liqueurs, jellies, and jams.
Left: Adams Elderberry, Right: Common Juniper
Common Juniper (Juniperus communis Blueberry Delight®)
While the berries of this juniper cultivar are technically cones, they’re a key ingredient in the production of gin! This evergreen makes an outstanding groundcover, offering dense two-toned foliage where small creatures can seek shelter. An excellent massing plant for adding beauty to areas of the garden with poor soils, deer will leave this evergreen alone while birds will happily visit to munch on the cones. A word of warning—despite the name of this cultivar, the cones taste nothing like blueberries!
Native To: Fields and pastures from the Pacific coast to the Atlantic and down to the gulf coast of Florida, excluding Kansas and Missouri.
Use Berries For: Distilling into gin.
While these five plants produce berries that you can use at home, the local wildlife depends on them even more. Try planting multiple species to build a more diverse, colorful, and sustainable landscape that all of nature’s creatures can enjoy!