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Gardening – Wisconsin Native Fruit Trees

Wisconsin has a diverse native flora that includes wild fruit trees native to the state. Choosing varieties that grow naturally within the state for home gardens and landscapes ensures the trees will grow and flourish. Given the diversity of fruiting trees available, it isn't hard to choose one or several for landscaping, collecting fruit or the beauty of spring blossoms.

Restoring native plant habitat is vital to preserving biodiversity. By creating a native plant garden, each patch of habitat becomes part of a collective effort to nurture and sustain the living landscape for birds and other animals.

Native plants are those that occur naturally in a region in which they evolved. They are the ecological basis upon which life depends, including birds and people. Without them and the insects that co-evolved with them, local birds cannot survive.

Here are seven Wisconsin native fruit tress that not only support native pollinators but alos provide edible fruit for you! Be sure to click on the tree name to get more details.

Apple tree, Malus pumila Apple
Benefits: Butterflies
Height: 15-50 feet
Bloom Time: Late spring/Early summer
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 2, 3, 4, 5
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Medium, Moist
Color: White
Description: The apple, Malus pumila, is a deciduous tree, generally standing 6 to 15 feet tall in cultivation and up to 30 feet in the wild. When cultivated, the size, shape and branch density are determined by rootstock selection and trimming method. The leaves are alternately arranged dark green-colored simple ovals with serrated margins and slightly downy undersides. Blossoms are produced in spring simultaneously with the budding of the leaves. The fruit matures in late summer or autumn.
Red Mulberry tree, Morus rubra Red Mulberry
Benefits: Birds
Height: 35-50 feet
Bloom Time: Late spring/Early fall
Sun: Full Sun, PartSun, Part Shade
Zones: 4, 5
Soil : Loam
Moisture: Medium
Color: Green
Description: Red Mulberry, Morus rubra, is a medium sized, upright spreading to rounded, deciduous tree that typically grows to 35-50’ tall. It is native to rich woods, bottomlands and wood. It typically occurs in woodlands, rocky places, pastures, fields and along roads throughout the state. It is noted for its often lobed leaves, milky sap, reddish-brown bark and edible fruits.
Black Cherry tree, Elymus virginicus Black Cherry
Benefits: Bees, Birds, Butterflies
Height: 50-80 feet
Bloom Time: Late spring/Early summer
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil : Loam
Moisture: Medium
Color: White
Description: Black Cherry, Prunus serotina, typically occurs in both lowland and upland woods and along streams. It is one of the largest of the cherries, typically growing to 50-80’ tall with a narrow-columnar to rounded crown. It is noted for its profuse spring bloom, attractive summer foliage and fall color. Fragrant white flowers in slender pendulous clusters (racemes to 6” long) appear with the foliage in spring (late April-May). Flowers are followed by drooping clusters of small red cherries that ripen in late summer to dark purple-black.
Pin Cherry tree, Prunus pennsylvanica Pin Cherry
Benefits: Birds, Butterflies
Height: 20-30 feet
Bloom Time: Late spring/Early Fall
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade
Zones: 2, 3, 4, 5
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: White
Description: Pin Cherry, Prunus pennsylvanica, forms a small tree, up to 30 feet in height in our area. The tree occurs in sandy clearings, shores, and plains; borders of forests and fields and in open (rarely swampy) forests, usually with aspen, white birch, and/or jack pine. It has a straight trunk and a narrow, but rounded top crown. The bark is shiny reddish-brown to grayish-brown that has numerous horizontal fissures called lenticels. Pin Cherry has attractive and conspicuous in bloom late in the spring. The cherries are small and very sour, but they are often numerous and they make good jelly.
Downy Serviceberry tree, Amelanchier arborea Downy Serviceberry
Benefits: Bees, Birds
Height: 15-25 feet
Bloom Time: Late spring/Early Summer
Sun: Full Sun, Part Sun, Part Shade
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil : Loam
Moisture: Medium
Color: White
Description: Downy Serviceberry, Amelanchier arborea, also called Downy Juneberry, is a deciduous, early-flowering, large shrub or small tree which typically grows 15-25 feet tall in cultivation but can reach 40 feet in the wild. Occurs most often in open rocky woods, wooded slopes, and bluffs. Features 5-petaled, showy, slightly fragrant, white flowers in drooping clusters which appear before the leaves emerge in early spring. Flowers give way to small, round green berries which turn red and finally mature to a dark purplish-black in early summer. Edible berries resemble blueberries.
American Plum tree, Prunus americana American Plum
Benefits: Bees
Height: 15-25 feet
Bloom Time: Spring
Sun: Full Sun
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil: Loam, Rocky, Sand
Moisture: Dry, Medium
Color: White
Description: American Plum (Prunus americana) is a small, deciduous, single trunk tree or multi-stemmed shrub which occurs in rocky or sandy soils in woodlands, pastures, abandoned farms, streams and hedgerows. As a tree, it typically grows to 15-25 feet tall with a broad, spreading crown. White flowers (1 inch diameter) appear in March before the foliage. Fertilized flowers often develop into fleshy fruits that are globoid and about 1 inch across. These fruits are initially green, but they later become yellow or red.
Canadian Wild Plum Tree, Prunus nigra Canadian Wild Plum
Benefits: Birds
Height: 10-16 feet
Bloom Time: Last spring/Early summer
Sun: Part Shade, Shade
Zones: 3, 4, 5
Soil: Loam
Moisture: Moist
Color: Pink, White
Description: Canadian Wild Plum, Prunus nigra, is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 33 feet tall with a trunk up to 25 cm diameter, with a low-branched, dense crown of stiff, rigid, branches. The bark is gray-brown, older layers coming off in thick plates. The flowers are 0.59–0.98 inches in diameter, white fading to pale pink, with a more or less irregularly notched margin and appear before the leaves in mid to late spring. The fruit is an oblong-oval drupe, 25–30 millimetres (0.98–1.18 in) long with a tough, thick, orange red skin, free from bloom, yellow flesh adherent to the stone; the stone oval, compressed. The fruit is somewhat sour, clingstone, and very juicy.

Further Information

Wisconsin Native Violets
Wisconsin Edible Berry Shrubs
Dandelion Recipes
Edible Plants In Your Garden
Native Fruit Trees