Unexpected Edibles

We know of common blueberries, raspberries and strawberries but did you know there are many other types of plants that produce edible fruit?  Read below.

Plants with Fruit

Actindia varieties


Fruits better with male pollinator, smaller but sweeter than commercial grown

Akebia quinata

Fiveleaf Akebia

Fruit is gooey and has a great, sweet taste but seedy.  The skin though is bitter.  Not self-fertile.

Amelanchier species


Sweet, small fruit ripen in June, can be used raw, cooked or dried

Aronia melanocarpa


Fruit tastes vary by variety, used in jelly & juice, self-fertile, rich in pectin

Chaenomeles speciosa

Flowering Quince

A stringent tartness dissipates with cooking, used in jelly.  Pick after frost.

Cornus kousa

Chinese Dogwood

Fruit is used raw or cooked, sweet and juicy, custard-like flesh.  Ripens late summer.

Cornus mas

Cornelian Cherry

Tart cherry-like fruit ripen in August.  Use in jelly and jam.

Gaultheria procumbens


Round ¾ inch bright red berries have wintergreen flavor.  Best picked after frost.

Malus domestica

Eating apples

Domestic fruit, grown for apples.  Cultivars range in texture and tartness.

Malus dolgo


Can be used in jellies and jams.

Sambucus canandensis


Cooked flowers/fruit are very flavorful, useful in pies and jelly.  Must be cooked, never eat raw.



Useful raw, cooked or dried.

Vaccinium macrocarpon

American Cranberry

Classic cranberry, tart fruit is usually dried or cooked, high in vitamin C.

Viburnum (native)


V. cassinoides, lentago, prunifolium have edible raisin-like fruits in autumn.  V. trilobum in jelly and jam.

Plants with Nuts & Seeds

Carya ovata/lacinosa


Edible nuts are sweet raw or cooked into cakes and pies

Castanea mollissima

Chinese Chestnut

Sweet nuts when cooked, low in fat and oils but high in good carbohydrates and protein.


Japanese Plum Yew

The seed and fruit are eaten in Japan.  Fruit is said to be better from Fastigiata.  Not self-fertile

Corylus species


Edible Hazelnuts, excellent raw or can be used in baking.  Ripens mid to late fall.

Fagus americana

American Beech

Sweet nuts in fall, with a good texture.  Can be used raw or cooked.

Fagus sylvatica

European Beech

Edible nuts can be toxic in large numbers.



Produces large nuts with age.  Raw seed is sweet and rich tasting.

Pinus korainesis

Korean Pine

Pines are not self-fertile.  Seeds are delicacies.

Pinus parviflora

Japanese White Pine

Pines are not self-fertile.  Seeds are delicacies.



Nuts can be sweet.  Can be used raw, cooked or ground.

Plants with a Tropical Feel

Asimina triloba

Paw Paw

A relative of the tropical Custard Apple, the fruit tastes of banana custard.  Fruit ripens in fall and needs cross-pollination.

Ficus ‘Chicago Hardy’

Chicago Hardy Fig

Fruits are purplish-brown with a good sweet flavor when fully ripe.

Passiflora incarnate

Hardy Passion Vine

Fruit has a sweet taste cooked or raw, once ripe.  Useful in jelly, little pulp.  High in niacin.

Phyllostachys aureosculata

Yellow Groove Bamboo

Young shoots are excellent after cooking, barely bitter.  Can also be used raw.

Phyllostachys nuda

Snow Bamboo

Young shoots are excellent after cooking, barely bitter.  Can also be used raw

Edible Flowers

Aquilegia species


Flowers are very sweet, rich in nectar, and make a beautiful garnish.

Asclepias tuberosa

Butterfly Weed

Flower buds cooked.  Flower clusters can be boiled down to make a sugary syrup.



Daylily buds and flowers can taste a bit like asparagus/green peppers

Hibiscus syriacus

Rose of Sharon

Flowers and young leaves have a mild, sweet flavor


Bee Balm

Leaves and flowers add pleasant aroma to salad and tea, reminiscent of Earl Grey tea

Perovskia atriplicifolia

Russian Sage

Flowers have a sweet taste, lavender scent, useful in salads or as a garnish.



Flowers (raw) and young leaves (raw or cooked) edible.  Flowers make a nice garnish.

Aromatic Foliage & Seasoning


Anise Hyssop

Sweet anise taste to the leaves that can be used raw or cooked.

Lavandula angustifolia


Raw leaves and flower petals used as aromatics only in moderation.

Myrica pensylvanica

Northern Bayberry

Leaves can be used as bay leaves, remove after cooking.  Delicate but subtle flavor.

Thymus species


Leaves raw or dried give a nice aroma and flavor to food.  Harvest early summer if drying.

Stems & Roots


Sweet Flag

Stalks and spadix taste good when tender, rhizomes are candied or dried and ground.

Asarum canadense

Wild Ginger

Roots edible, spicy flavor, aids digestion

Dryopteris filix femina, Matteucia struthiopteris, Osmunda cinnamonea


Young fronds , before they fully unroll, are thick and succulent when cooked.

Pontaderia cordata

Pickerel Rush

Whole plant can be eaten raw or cooked, nutty flavor. Seed can be cooked like rice or roasted.

Sagittaria latifolia


Root has texture of potato and flavor of sweet chestnut when roasted.  Harvest late summer.

Typha latifolia


Highly edible plant with many uses and preparations. Young flower shoot tastes like sweet corn.


Galium odoratum

Sweet Woodruff

Leaves make an excellent tea, flowers a tasty garnish.  Scent of freshly mown hay.

Rhus typhina

Staghorn Sumac

Fruit has a tart lemony flavor high in vitamin C.  Soak in hot water for a lemonade substitute.

Rosa rugosa

Rugosa Rose

Very sweet fruit used raw or cooked, high in vitamin C.  Flower petals edible too.

Sassafras albidum


Collect roots in spring when tree is dormant.

Important to Bee Keepers

Nyssa sylvatica

Black Gum or Tupelo

Source of tupelo honey.

Oxydendrum arboretum


Pollen source for late season honey.

Other Uses

Acer saccharum

Sugar Maple

Sap is used in production of maple syrup, harvested late winter, early spring.

Betula alleghaniensis

Yellow Birch

Usefulness as flavoring, tastes of a sweet wintergreen. Sap is harvested early spring.

Humulus lupulus


Used mainly for the flavoring for beer.

Juniperus communis & scopulorum


Dried fruits of these varieties can be used for flavoring.  Communis is used to flavor Gin.