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
37 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

Help with control of small, invasive groundcover
April 16, 2012 - I have a very invasive ground cover creeping into my yard. I've tried to identify it and it's similar to creeping charlie or garlic mustard. Leaves are triangular with jagged edges, small purple f...
view the full question and answer

Is the fruit of Melothria pendula edible?
November 22, 2014 - Is the fruit of Melothria pendula edible?
view the full question and answer

Edible/medicinal plants in Suffolk County, NY
August 19, 2010 - Which types of edible/medicinal plants are available in Suffolk County (Long Island NY)? Is there a place I can find a list with information about what they look like, where they can be found and what...
view the full question and answer

Are gourds poisonous, edible?
August 27, 2008 - Are all the Gourds edible? How can I know which one is which? If it is not edible, is it poisonous? If not, what is stopping us from eating them?
view the full question and answer

Edible Native Plants for a Small Austin Garden
March 15, 2010 - Hello Mr. Smarty Plants (or Mrs. or Miss, whomever is answering this go'round)! First off, thank you so much for all the help you have given me in the past. Secondly, the company my husband works ...
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