Natives bearing Edible Fruits

The wild fruit of the Pacific Northwest offers a variety of fresh and delicious flavors. They can be used alone or combined with other fruit for a unique twist in your favorite jam, sauce or baking recipes.

Include these plants in your ‘edible forest’ or general landscape, and have a bounty that you can both enjoy and share with the birds that visit your garden!  Here’s a sampling:

Rosehip

Rosa: Wild Rose

Rosehips are well known for their abundance of vitamin C and use in making delicious jam. Our native roses are no exception!

Recipe: Rose Hip Jam and Jelly

Vaccinium spp.

Vaccinium: Huckleberry

Perhaps the best of the native berries is the Vaccinium ovatum: Evergreen Huckleberry; not found as commonly in nurseries, the Vaccinium membranaceum: Black Huckleberry is also really tasty; the Vaccinium parvifolium: Red Huckleberry is sometimes found to be a little sour, but easily cultivated and still delicious with some sweetening.

Recipe: Huckleberry Muffins

Amelanchier alnifolia

Amelanchier alnifolia: Serviceberry

These tiny berries were a staple of Pacific Northwest Indian tribes, and can be eaten fresh, cooked or dried. In addition, this small tree / tall multi-stemmed shrub is attractive with something of interest every season of the year, so is garden-worthy in its own right. The birds will be happy to enjoy the fruit, too.

Recipe: Serviceberry Pie

Fragaria vesca

Fragaria: Strawberry

All three of our native strawberries Fragaria vesca, Fragaria chiloensis, Fragaria virginiana are pleasantly edible, the latter two being two of the parents of today’s garden strawberries.

In all cases the fruit is quite small, so having an abundance for a recipe might be a challenge unless you have a lot of space, but for fresh eating while out in your garden, they’re hard to beat.

Rubus

Rubus: Salmonberry and Thimbleberry

Rubus spectabilis: Salmonberry and Rubus parviflora: Thimbleberry vary in flavor depending on the growing site. Thimbleberry has the sometimes advantage of growing in drier conditions, while Salmonberry requires moist conditions to thrive. Both are edible raw: Thimbleberries more reliably sweet; Salmonberries are sweet but sometimes bland in taste. Both are also made into jams and jellies and sauces

Recipe: Salmonberry Jam

Sambucus racemosa

Sambucus: Elderberry

Both the Sambucus caerulea: Blue Elderberry and Sambucus racemosa: Red Elderberry are edible and widely used, but as there is controversy and disagreement about fresh eating, be sure to cook the fruit before eating (also note that all parts of the plant other than the fruit are highly toxic). Used for jams and jellies and baked goods – the blue elderberry can also be turned into a delicious cordial.

Recipe: Elderberry Pie

Gaultheria shallon

Gaultheria shallon: Salal

When fully ripe the berries are sweet and are often mixed with other native berries for jellies and jams. It has plenty of natural pectin for setting the jelly/jam, too.

Recipe: Salal Jelly

The following natives have edible fruit, but definitely need to be sweetened or mixed with sweeter fruit - they’re much too tart to eat alone:

viburnum-trilobum150

Viburnum trilobum: American Cranberry Bush

The plentiful fruit, quite tart when fresh, is high in vitamin C. Tasty when cooked and used like you would cranberries - in sauces, condiments, jams and jellies.

Mahonia aquifolium

Mahonia aquifolium: Oregon Grape

Berries tend to be tart, so are made into jellies and jams with sweeter berries (and/or lots of sugar).

Recipe: Oregon Grape Apple Jelly

Recipe: Oregon Grape Jam

malus fusca

Malus fusca: Western Crabapple

Edible but tart (again, think jam, where you add lots of sugar). Raw seeds are considered toxic and should be discarded.

prunus virginiana

Prunus virginiana: Chokecherry

Also in the category of edible but tart, these fruits carry a lot of juice and natural pectin and are used to make delicious jellies and pies. Note: Though they are edible and nutritious, the seeds contain small amounts of hydrogen cyanide – usually in too small a quantity to cause harm – but please be aware that ANY extremely bitter seeds or fruit should not be eaten.

Recipe: Chokecherry Jam

Crataegus douglasii kz4

Crataegus douglasii: Black Hawthorne

Edible but with a slightly mealy texture, these berries are also high in pectin, making them a superb thickening agent for those homemade jams and jellies. They are also used in pies and tarts. Beware of the cherry-sized pit, if eating them fresh!

Recipe: Hawthorne Butter