There is a wealth of information available on the medicinal and herbal uses of native plants, and we generally don’t dip our toes into those waters. But when it comes to yummy berries, fruits, and nuts we don’t shy away from offering suggestions on edible uses of our native plants.
Here are just a few of the native edible plants we have in stock right now:
Sambucus canadensis (Elderberry) – Use them in jams, syrups,or wine. Try making fritters from the flowers.
Corylus Americana – American hazel nut Two are needed for best berry set. These nuts are rich in protein and flavor can be used in any recipe calling for filberts or hazelnut
Amelanchier (Serviceberry) – You may need to beat the birds to the harvest, but its worth the battle for a snack fresh from the tree. You can also make pies, jams, and cakes with them.
Vaccinium corymbosum (Blueberry) – Yes, blueberries, the kind you buy at the grocery store, are native. You do need acidic soil for these so get a soil test if you aren’t sure if your soil is appropriate. (pH of 4.5 to 5.5)
Pycnanthemum species (Mints) – There are several species of native mints. Some are sweet and some are savory. All are definitely ‘minty’, each with their own characteristic. A nice change from the non-native spearmint and peppermint.
Helianthus tuberosus (Jeruslaeum artichoke) An important food for native americans prior to 1600. This is the popular ‘sunchoke’. Each plant typically produces 2-5 pounds of tubers per year. Raw tubers have a nutty flavor. Tubers may be grated raw into salads, boiled and/or mashed somewhat like potatoes, roasted or added to soups.
Carya ovata (Shagbark hickory) the nuts are similar to pecan and can be used similarly. Plant this one for your children or grandchildren. It’s a majestic tree that bears nuts starting at about 10 years of age but doesn’t bear large crops until 40 years. Our trees are about 7 years old. Worth the Wait!
Prunus American (American plum) – The fruit is used in jams or jellies and the sweeter ones can be eaten raw.
Asimina trilobal (PawPaw) – Yes, the Pawpaw is native to Pennsylvania and grows happily on bottom lands and floodplains. Native Americans used the fruit fresh and made it into cakes and sauces, or dried and used it as winter food. Two genetically different plants are required for cross pollination and fruit set. Our seedlings are seed grown and genetically diverse.
Diospyros virginiana (common persimmon) – These sweet fruits, when ripe, taste similar to date. (Be sure to wait until they are ripe, they can taste bitter otherwise.) Try making puddings or cakes with them, or drying them.