En Español

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
38 ratings

Thursday - May 15, 2008

From: Clearfield, PA
Region: Mid-Atlantic
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: Edible fruits and plants in Pennsylvania
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Can you give me a list of edible berries and plants that someone might find if they were hiking through the forest of Pennsylvania?

ANSWER:

Mr. Smarty Plants doesn't even know ALL the edible native plants in Pennsylvania, but there are books that can give you a listing of the best ones. For instance, Edible Wild Plants of Pennsylvania and Neighboring States by F. J. Medve and others; Edible Wild Plants of Eastern North America by M. L. Fernald and others; and Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and Central North America by L. Peterson all are excellent references. These books provide you with means to identify the plants, habitat and distribution, which parts are edible, how to prepare the plant, poisonous plants to avoid, etc. Here, also, is a page of foraging and ethnobotany links from Foraging.com.

Just to give you an idea of the great variety of edible native plants you can find, below is a partial list of  trees and shrubs only that grow in Pennsylvania that bear edible fruit. There are many more herbaceous plants as well that are edible.

A cautionary note: Be sure you know what plant you're about to eat! There are look-alike plants that can give very unpleasant, even dangerous, results if eaten.

Asimina triloba (pawpaw)

Carya alba (mockernut hickory)

Castanea dentata (American chestnut)

Cercis canadensis (eastern redbud) (edible flowers)

Celtis occidentalis (common hackberry)

Diospyros virginiana (common persimmon)

Juglans cinerea (butternut)

Morus rubra (red mulberry)

Prunus americana (American plum)

Prunus angustifolia (Chickasaw plum)

Prunus pensylvanica (pin cherry)

Prunus serotina (black cherry)

Prunus virginiana (chokecherry)

Castanea pumila (chinkapin)

Corylus americana (American hazelnut)

Gaylussacia dumosa (dwarf huckleberry)

Mahonia repens (creeping barberry)

For the next 3 genera, use the "Narrow Your Search" option to limit the species to Pennsylvania.

Ribes spp. (currants and gooseberries)

Rubus spp. (blackberries, raspberries, dewberries)

Vaccinium spp. (cranberries, blueberries, huckleberries)

 

 

More Edible Plants Questions

Wild Edible Books for Pennsylvania
February 11, 2014 - I was hoping I could get some suggestions of one or more good books on wild edibles that I can find in Southwest PA. Any help will be greatly appreciated.
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native tomatoes from Spokane WA
August 18, 2012 - I have 2 tomato plants in 1 whiskey barrel, they are in abundance with tomatoes. My problem is when the tomatoes start to ripen, half green & half light red within 1 day the tomatoes are really soft ...
view the full question and answer

Non Toxic Fruit Plants
April 03, 2015 - I am trying to plant on my backyard. My dog spends about 8 hours a day outdoors and I am afraid she will be poisoned. I am overwhelmed by the information of toxic trees\plants for dogs. However, I ju...
view the full question and answer

Edible native plants in New York
July 29, 2013 - In your plant database- which is great by the way- it does not say whether or not the plant is edible. Do you have any way to search for edible plants? Or do you have a separate database? Thanks!
view the full question and answer

Plant identification in Georgia
September 14, 2011 - I saw the same question that I was going to ask about the plant that folds its leaves at dusk, with sparse branches, rapid growth, small yellow flowers and long (whisker-like, but do not appear to be ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center