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Sunday - January 10, 2010

From: McCaysville, GA
Region: Southeast
Topic: Edible Plants
Title: Edible Plants for North Georgia
Answered by: Dean Garrett

QUESTION:

We are planning a forest food garden in the hollers of the N GA Mountains. Which edible fruit, nut, berry, herb and creepers would be best for this reddish, clay-like soil? The food garden is in a meadow sloping down to a big flat area from a pine/maple/oak forest backing. Is there a database search for edible plants by state? If so, sorry, please point us to it. - Feed the Future Food Forest Gardens across the planet

ANSWER:

A forest food garden sounds wonderful, especially in your mountainous area. We don't have a database that identifies edible plants by state, and I couldn't find one online with a quick search, so I relied on books for the most part: Charles Hudson's The Southeastern Indians, Daniel Moerman's Native American Ethnobotany, and Sally and Andy Wasowski's Gardening With Native Plants of the South, cross-checking relevant plants against the USDA Plants database to determine if they occur in your location.

The plants listed below grow wild either in your county or in neighboring counties. Some do best in sun; some do best in part shade.

Keep in mind that the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center focuses only on wild-growing native plants, few of which have been bred for culinary purposes, so if you're interested in more familiar food garden plants, you might want to consult local growers.

Edible Fruits:

  • Eastern Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) – a medium-sized tree with fall fruit
  • Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) – a shrub or small tree with early fall fruit
  • Muscadine Grape (Vitis rotundifolia) – a wild grapevine with famously delicious, late summer to fall grapes
  • American Plum (Prunus americana) - a rather tart wild plum tree, fruiting late summer to fall
  • Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) – a small, sharp, summer cherry on a beautiful, large tree
  • Maypop or Purple Passionflower (Passiflora incarnata) – delicious, early fall passionfruit from this vine
  • Blackhaw Viburnum (Viburnum prunifolium) - small, raisin-like fall fruits on a small tree

Edible Nuts:


Edible Berries:


Herbs For Seasoning and Teas:


Edible Roots:

 

 


Diospyros virginiana

Castanea pumila

Symplocos tinctoria

Monarda clinopodia

 


Viburnum rufidulum

Carya ovata

Corylus americana

Vaccinium corymbosum

Amelanchier laevis

Rubus argutus

Allium cernuum

Claytonia caroliniana
 

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Bibliography

Native American Ethnobotany (1998) Moerman, Daniel E.

The Southeastern Indians (1976) Hudson, Charles

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