En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?

Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
    
 
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Friday - March 07, 2014

From: Grand Marais, MN
Region: Midwest
Topic: Edible Plants, Shrubs, Trees, Vines
Title: Edible forest garden for northern Minnesota
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

I am planning an edible forest garden for northern Minnesota. Can you suggest a list of plants that are native to this area. We are in zone 3a or 3b. Thank you!

ANSWER:

While we answer quite a few questions about edible plants, this member of the Mr. Smarty Plants Team was not familiar with the term "food forest." However, another member of the Team apparently was familiar with it, and here is his answer:

Previous Mr. Smarty Plants answer on a "food forest" from California. Follow some of the links in it for more information.

Getting to more specific information on your part of the United States:

From examiner.com Minnesota Wild Flowers and Edible Plants

At the very bottom of this page, from our Native Plant Bibliography, are the titles of two books on your subject. Each title is a link to more information

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, home of Mr. Smarty Plants, is committed to the growth, propagation, and protection of plants native not only to North America but also to the area in which they are to be grown; in your case, Cook County MN. Although the plant lists we have seen are listed as "wild," that is not necessarily the same as native. We are going to take some ideas from from the list Minnesota Wild Flowers and Edible Plants; they specifically mention a number of different kinds of berries.

We are going to search in our Native Plant Database for members if the genus Fragaria (strawberry) and sort them by nativity to Minnesota. From Wikipedia: Fragaria   is a genus of flowering plants in the rose family, Rosaceae, commonly known as strawberries for their edible fruits.

Members of Genus Fragaria native to Northern Minnesota:

Fragaria vesca (Woodland strawberry)

Fragaria virginiana (Virginia strawberry)

Next, we'll look at the rubus genus. Again from Wikipedia: Rubus is a large genus of flowering plants in the rose family, Rosaceae, subfamily Rosoideae. Raspberries, blackberries, and dewberries are common, widely distributed members of the genus.

Note that both the genus Rubus and Fragaria are members of the Family  Rosaceae.

Members of Genus Rubus native to Northern Minnesota:

Rubus arcticus (Arctic blackberry)

Rubus hispidus (Bristly dewberry)

Rubus odoratus (Purple flowering raspberry)

Rubus pubescens (Dwarf red blackberry)

Since you mentioned a "forest" we are wondering if you are considering trees with edible fruits or nuts. Three members of the Juglandaceae (walnut) family have species native to Minnesota:

Carya ovata (Shagbark hickory)

Juglans cinerea (Butternut)

Carya illinoinensis (Pecan) We think you should know we found this statement

about the time after one of these trees is planted before it begins to bear

fruit; the best period of production being between the ages of 75 to 225

years old. Alas, unless you already had one of these mature trees on your

garden site, we believe you will have to scratch that. Hopefully, you can now

go to the Native Plant Database and search for the names of plants native to

Michigan and follow each plant link to our webpage on that plant to discover

its growing conditions, soil needs, etc.

 

From the Image Gallery


Woodland strawberry
Fragaria vesca

Virginia strawberry
Fragaria virginiana

Arctic blackberry
Rubus arcticus

Bristly dewberry
Rubus hispidus

Purpleflowering raspberry
Rubus odoratus

Dwarf red blackberry
Rubus pubescens

Pecan
Carya illinoinensis

Shagbark hickory
Carya ovata

Butternut
Juglans cinerea

More Trees Questions

Damage to native elm in Texas
August 20, 2008 - We had a major landscape renovation done over the winter. One of the trees, an elm about 10 yrs old, remained in the bed although plants around it were removed. The tree has suddenly started turning...
view the full question and answer

How do you stop the bark from peeling off the tree in Amarillo?
May 07, 2012 - How do you stop the bark from peeling off the tree? I live in Amarillo, TX. If you can't stop the progression, how do you keep the tree alive?
view the full question and answer

Transplanting a blue spruce from Pingee Grove IL
August 30, 2012 - Transplant 18" Blue spruce from 5 gal. bucket to ground.
view the full question and answer

Bark splitting in old tulip tree in Red Creek, NY.
May 18, 2013 - Hello, We have a tulip tree that has some bark splitting I guess I would call it. The tree is older and very tall. On the north side of it starting at the bottom of the trunk to about 8-9 feet up i...
view the full question and answer

I need a tall tree with kind roots for a narrow space
March 11, 2009 - We have a space in the yard where a building is within 3 to 6 feet of where we would like a tall tree. What tree could achieve two stories in height, while not messing with the foundation of the bu...
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center