Native  Edible & Ornamental Plant List

NATIVE EDIBLES & ORNAMENTAL PLANTS 


  1. American Chestnut - Castenea dentata x mollissima ‘Dunstan’- Blight resistant hybrid of American and Chinese chestnut. Trees have variable amounts of parentage. High quality edible nuts produced on young trees. Two trees for pollination to produce nuts. Grows to 30’. Zone 5
  2. American Hazelnut - Corylus americana - Great nut plant, adaptable to heavy clay soil, part-shade - to full sun, loving low maintenance shrub. Needs more than 1 plant for pollination. Can cross pollinate with both American & European varieties. Resistant to Hazelnut Blight. Prefers moist soils. 12’ x 12’. Nuts can be ripened off the tree. Zone 4
  3. American Persimmon- Diospyros virginiana - Great Fall bearing fruit tree. Some varieties are large growing to 20’ or more, others are smaller for backyard gardeners. Some varieties are self-fertile, but best to plant at least 2 for cross-pollination. Wild species is dioceous. Make sure you know fertility profile. John Rick, Szukis, Mohler are reliable sweet cultivars that are self fertile.  Zone 4 (species)
  4. American Wisteria - Wisteria frutescens - A fast growing woody vine to 25-30’ Blooms appear on new wood, and open up after the foliage has leafed out. Native to moist woods and thicket areas from Virginia to Illinois, Florida to Texas. In the NE flower buds may die to cold temperatures. Full sun. Zone 5
  5. Bayberry - Myrica pensylvanica - A dense branching tough shrub that grows to 10’ which tolerates a wide range of growing conditions including salt, wind, poor soil, drought and wet soils, in full sun to part shade. Shrubs will sucker over time, but you will need separate female and male plants for the aromatic berries. Zone 3
  6. Beach Plums - Prunus maritima - Adaptable pest-resistant, decorative, highly productive, 2 for pollination. 6 ’x 6’ to 8’ x 8’. Extremely hardy. Must be in full SUN. Makes a great hedge, salt, wind & sand tolerant. Great GREEN wall. can be pruned like a tree. Isolated colony in Maine. Yellow fruit, sweetest, otherwise larger fruit generally better for eating. Zone 4
  7. Bigleaf Magnolia - Magnolia macrophylla - Everything is large on this beautiful tree with the biggest simple leaves in North America and stunning white flowers. Unripened seed pods look like large artichokes, and developed seed pods are striking! Grow in moist, well drained, rich soil in full sun to part-shade. Zone 5
  8. Blackcurrant - Ribes americanum - Beautiful flowers in Spring. Underutilized species that produces fruit effortlessly. Grows in Part-Shade & Sun. Can be pruned into tree form or bush. Can be eaten out of hand, dried or made into jam. Pest resistant. Low maintenance. Zone 3
  9. Bottlebrush Buckeye- Aesculus parviflora - Beautiful suckering shrub that is adaptable to full sun or partshade. Large pinnate leaves and white bottle-brush like showy flowers  with pink stamens and red anthers that attract swallowtail butterflies. Great understory plant for woodland gardens which also has butter yellow foliage in the fall. Zone 4
  10. Sweetshrub/Carolina Allspice - Calycanthus floridus - Multi-limbed shrub that is tolerant of a wide range of soil types growing in both full sun to part shade. Grows to 10’ when sited in a more shaded aspect, and shorter when in sun. Rich maroon colored flowers are often very fragrant, smelly like tutti-frutti. Interesting seedpods permit into winter. Great as understory shrub for woodland gardens.Zone 4
  11. Elderberry - Sambucus canadensis - Adaptable tree-like shrub. Grows in sandy soil, clay soil, swampy soil, part-Shade to full sun. Great food, medicinal & ornamental plant. Almost no pest except for a borer that does cosmetic damage. York & Adams are bred for larger fruit. Likes disturbed areas. Berries should be cooked, the glycosides are slightly toxic and makes you feel nauseous. Flowers make great wine, juice, fritters, and cough medicine. Zone 3
  12. Witch Alder - Fothergilla spp. - With a diversity of species that range in height from 2’ - 10+’. Grow in well-drained acidly rich soil in full sun to part-shade. It might need more moisture when planted in full sun. Will form colonies over time. Early Spring white bottle-brush flowers. Amazing fall leaf color. zone 4
  13. Smooth Hydrangea - Hydrangea arborescens - A widely branched shrub that prefers a part-shaded aspect. If planted in full sun it will need consistent moisture. Adaptable to different soil types. Flowers on new wood, but remaining flowers are ornamental on shrub through winter. Many different cultivars are available with varying heights from 2’- 6’. Zone 4
  14. Oakleaf Hydrangea - Hydrangea quercifolia - A multi-stemmed shrub that prefers a part-shade aspect but can grow in sun if soil is moist. Flowers on old wood, and temperatures around zero or below may winter-kill branches. Many different cultivars are available with varying heights from 2’-12’ with different colored flowers ranging from green to white to pinkish-red. Great leaf color in Fall. Zone 5
  15. Mayapple - Podophyllum peltatum - Beautiful plant, loves full-part shady conditions. Forms colonies when happy. Produces fruit in late August, Must be squishy and fully ripe to eat. Only the pulp (not seeds or skin) are edible. Exotic looking leaves. You might fight with critters over the fruit. Best eaten out of hand. Tropical flavor. Zone 4.
  16. Maypop - Passiflora incarnata - Needs 2 plants for cross pollination. Rich composted soil, Full Sun only. Marginally hardy perennial vine. Must Plant early in season or keep as a houseplant until you haver larger root system to plant out. Mulch every year for winter.  White flower form increases fertility. Beautiful flowers bloom over long period. Need trellis/ structure. Fruits need to ripen on vine. Zone 5
  17. Pawpaw- Asimina triloba - Sweetest and largest American fruit. 2 trees or more for pollination. Slow growing with long tap root-so do not move after planting! Young plants need shade, old plants need full Sun. 20+ cultivars. New desirable types are Peterson Paw paws. Takes up to 10 years for fruit. Zone 5
  18. Pitcher Plants - Sarracenia spp. - Moisture loving plants need a bog garden in full sun. Plants need acidic conditions which include peat, mixed with sand. Plant get all their nutrients from the insects they trap in their pitchers, which is why they are called carnivorous. Many species and cultivars are available with different zonal requirements.
  19. Prickly Pear cactus - Opuntia humifusa - Cactus has some of the largest American wildflowers. Must be well drained, can plant on steep slope or make a soil/ rock pile and plant in that.  Opuntia humifusa is native to New York state. Zone 4 
  20. Opuntia Phaeacantha  is a tough species native to the south west and midwest which has a florescent orange cultivar. Also a great edible plant for fruit and cactus pads. Zone 5
  21. Sarsaparilla/Spikenard- Aralia racemosa - Beautiful ornamental perennial that looks like a shrub. Produces delicious spicy small fruit. In Ginseng family. Likes consistent moisture and full. Flowers in late Summer. Shade to part- Shade. 4’x4’. Zone 3
  22. Bladdernut - Staphylea trifolia - Great understory shade shrub that will sucker over time which may grow to 15’. Tolerant of a wide range of soils. In early Spring the white bell shaped flowers are in drooping clusters, which eventually mature to unusual bladder-shaped seedpods. Zone 3
  23. Spicebush- Lindera benzoin - Dioecious (male & female plants) for fertilization. Early Spring yellow flowers before Forsythia. Host plant for Spicebush Swallowtail & Spicebush Silk moths. Late Summer fruiting berries when dried taste like Coriander/pepper. Young leaves are citrusy - good for salads. Great for Shade areas, prefers moist areas. Plant at least 2 to 3 plants. Girls tend to bloom earlier than males. Zone 4.
  24. Ninebark - Physocarpus opulifolius - This dense suckering shrub has beautiful foliage, small clusters of white flowers and showy drooping group of fruits (seedpods) that persist on the plant through winter. This plant is adaptable and does well in both full sun and part-shaded conditions. The plant is tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions. Many different cultivars with growing heights from 2’-12+’. Species is hardy to zone Diabolo® 8’-10’, Little Devil - 3’-4’, Summer Wine™ - 5-6’
  25. Sweetbay Magnolia - Magnolia virginiana - Beautiful 25-30’ tall Southern native that does well in moist well drained soil in full sun. Lovely wonderfully scented, white flowers start in early summer and on mature specimens flower until Fall. 
  26. Shrubby St. John’s wort - Hypericum prolificum - Tough woody shrub with a rounded habit that is adaptable to a wide range of soils in full sun to part-shaded conditions. Plants can grow to 5’ and are often very floriferous with yellow flowers and prominent yellow bushy stamens, and in mid summer can completely obscure the rich green lance-shaped leaves.
  27. Hypericum frondosum ‘Sunburst’ - Growing to around 4’ this tough woody shrub with a compact habit has large yellow flowers with bushy stems and 3” leaves with a bluish-green color that is very handsome. Mature plants have beautiful exfoliating reddish-brown bark. 
© Copyright Hortusgardens.org