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Wisconsin Edible Berry Shrubs

A slice of berry pie.
Whether they're on your cereal or in jams, jellies and pies, berries are a favorite sweet treat and there are species that are berry shrubs native to our area — providing a sustainable garden that also supports native pollinators.

The wild fruit of Wisconsin 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, bees and butterflies that visit your garden!

Edible gardening generally brings to mind beds of lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, melons, and other foods with origins in distant continents. As natives of often vastly different climates and growing conditions, many of these plants require a lot of time and attention to bring to a successful harvest

Home cultivation of these native plants for edible usage is a sustainable way to increase existing wild populations of valuable plants and the genetic resilience they hold, as well as support the vast array of wildlife that depend on the presence of native plants for their own survival.

Wisconsin Native Berry Shrubs

Allegheny Blackberry

Allegheny Blackberry, Rubus allegheniensis Height: 6-12 feet
Bloom: Spring
Sun: Full Sun,Part Sun,Shade
Zones: 2-6
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Moist
Color: White

 Fruit: The berries have a sweet taste and a firm texture which are used for fresh eating, cooking, baking and preserves.

Riverbank Grape

Riverbank Grape, Vitis riparia Height: 36-72 feet
Bloom: Spring
Sun: Part Shade,Shade
Zones: 2-9
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Dry, Medium, Moist
Color: White,Green,Yellow,Brown

 Fruit: Berries are often sour until after a frost, then turn more sweet-tart. Making juice from these and the grapes freeze well so they can be used for juice throughout the winter. The leaves are also edible.

Wild Strawberry

Wild Strawberry, Fragaria virginiana Height: 4-7 inches
Bloom: Spring
Sun: Full Sun,Part Sun
Zones:3-8
Soil: Loam,Sand
Moisture: Dry,Medium, Moist
Color: White

 Fruit: The wild strawberry is highly sought after. While the fruit is used as a sweet snack, the roots of the plant are also used to make tea. The tea is used to treat diarrhea, ailments of the lungs and stomach, and dry skin.

Woodland Strawberry

Woodland Strawberry, Fragaria vesca Height: 1/2 to 3/4 inches
Bloom: Summer
Sun: Full Sun,Part Sun
Zones: 5-9
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Medium,Moist,Wet
Color: White

 Fruit: The strawberry fruit is strongly flavored, and is still collected and grown for domestic use and on a small scale commercially for the use of gourmets and as an ingredient for commercial jam, sauces, liqueurs, cosmetics and alternative medicine.

Lowbush Blueberry

Lowbush Blueberry, Vaccinium angustifolium Height: 1-2 feet
Bloom: Spring
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 2-8
Soil: Sand, Loam
Moisture: Dry, Medium, Moist
Color: White

 Fruit: A very sweet pleasant flavor with a slight taste of honey. The fruit can be dried and used like raisins.

Velvetleaf Blueberry

Velvetleaf Blueberry, Vaccinium myrtilloides Height: 4-12 feet
Bloom Time: Spring
Sun: Full Sun,Part Sun
Zones: 2-5
Soil: Sand
Moisture: Moist
Color: Pink,Purple,White,Brown

 Fruit: More acid than most blueberries with an agreeable piquancy. They can be eaten fresh or used in pies, preserves etc. The fruit can also be dried for later use.

Highbush Cranberry

Highbush Cranberry, Viburnum trilobum Height: 8-15 feet
Bloom: Spring
Sun: Full Sun, Partial Sun
Zones: 2-7
Soil: Clay, Loam, Sand
Moisture: Medium, Moist
Color: White

 Fruit: Vitamin C and so have a tart, acid taste (the taste is best after a frost and when picked slightly under-ripe). They are an excellent substitute for cranberries and are likewise used in preserves, jams, jellies, sauces, etc.

Missouri Gooseberry

Missouri Gooseberry, Ribes missouriense Height: 2-4 feet
Bloom: Spring
Sun: Full Sun,Part Sun
Zones: 4-8
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Medium
Color: Green

  Fruit: They have a rich sub-acid vinous flavor that is very agreeable, the fruit is somewhat too acid to be eaten raw for most tastes but when fully ripe makes delicious tarts and pies. The fruit can be dried for later use

Red Raspberry

Red Raspberry, Rubus  idaeus Height: 3-9 feet
Bloom: Spring
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun
Zones: 4-8
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Medium
Color: Pink, Purple

 Fruit: Delicious when eaten out of hand, the fruit is also used in pies, preserves etc. The root, which should be neither too young nor too old, requires a lot of boiling. Young shoots can be peeled and eaten raw or cooked like asparagus.

Black Raspberry

Black Raspberry, Rubus occidentalis Height: 6-12 feet
Bloom Time: Spring
Sun: Full Sun,Part Sun
Zones: 2-8
Soil: Loam,Sand,Rocky
Moisture: Medium
Color: White

 Fruit: Fruit can be eaten raw or cooked and used in pies, preserves etc. It is of variable quality, with the finest forms having a rich acid flavor. Young shoots can be eaten raw or cooked like rhubarb.

Thimbleberry

Red Raspberry, Rubus  idaeus Height: 4-8 feet
Bloom: Spring
Sun: Full Sun,Part Sun
Zones: 3-7
Soil: Acid, Clay, Loam
Moisture: Dry, Medium, Moist
Color: White

 Fruit: Fruits may be eaten directly off the shrub or used to make flavorful jams and jellies, but are rarely commercially cultivated because they are very soft and very difficult to pack and ship without damage.

Further Information:

 Wisconsin Native Fruit Trees
 Wisconsin Native Ferns
 Dandelion Recipes
 Native Culinary Herbs
 Wisconsin Native Grasses

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