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
Not Yet Rated

Monday - January 14, 2013

From: Hot Springs, MT
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Edible Plants, Herbs/Forbs, Shrubs, Trees
Title: Montana native plants to create a garden with edible plants
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Hi Smarty Plants We are looking to create a native herb, vegetable, root, fruit, flower and ground cover garden for the area of Hot Springs, Sanders County, Montana. Our zone is 4 and soil is mostly somewhat alkaline clays medium heavy with a shallow 1-2 inch layer of organic material on top, rainfall is 7-11 inches a year. Sat Sanga Thank you for your advice am looking forwards to it.

ANSWER:

You can find a list of native plants that are commercially available for landscaping at Recommended Montana.

Here are a few plants from that list that occur in or near Sanders County, Montana that have edible fruits.

Amelanchier alnifolia (Saskatoon serviceberry) occurs in Sander County

Prunus americana (American plum) does not occur in Sanders County, but occurs in Lewis and Clark County and Cascade County to the east of Sanders County.

Prunus virginiana (Chokecherry) occurs in adjacent Missoula and Lake Counties.

Rubus parviflorus (Thimbleberry) is edible raw or cooked and is a handsome plant.   See Montana Plant-Life for more informations.

Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea (Blue elder)  and Sambucus racemosa (Red elderberry) used for preserves and pies.

Shepherdia argentea (Silver buffaloberry) have sour but edible berries.  Occurs in adjacent Missoula County.

Viburnum edule (Squashberry) has sour but edible berries.  Occurs in adjacent Flathead County.

You should also visit the Montana Plant Life page to find lists of edible Montana plants grouped by the edible part (e.g., berries, seeds, leaves, etc.).  Not all the plants in their database are native, but they do have a native plant list for comparison and you can always check the plant against our Native Plant Database which contains only plants native to North America.  If you want to find out if the plant grows in Sanders County, you can search for the plant in the USDA Plants Database using its scientific name.  When you reach the species page, click on Montana on the map and it will give you a map showing county distribution of the plant.   For example, for Sambucus racemosa (Red elderberry) you can see by its distribution map that it occurs over most of the United States and Canada.  If you click on Montana on the map, you will see that it occurs in Sanders County on the Montana distribution map.

You can also read the answer to a previous question about edible wild plants in Montana with a list of suggested books about edible wild plants tht occur in Montana.  You can also see a list of edible and medicinal plants available for purchase from Blackfoot Native Plants.  Here are a couple of edible, native herbaceous plants from their list that grow in Sanders County:

Fragaria virginiana (Virginia strawberry) has fruit and will also serve as a groundcover.   Here is the description from Blackfoot Native Plants.

Chamerion angustifolium [synonym=Epilobium angustifolium] (Fireweed) is reported to be good in salads.   Here is more information from Plants for a Future.

You mention that you want to have vegetables in your garden.  The majority of garden vegetables are non-native cultivars.   To find out what works best for Montana visit the Montana Extension Service to read Planting a Successful Home Vegetable Garden.

 

From the Image Gallery


Saskatoon serviceberry
Amelanchier alnifolia

American plum
Prunus americana

Chokecherry
Prunus virginiana

Western thimbleberry
Rubus parviflorus

Blue elderberry
Sambucus nigra ssp. cerulea

Red elderberry
Sambucus racemosa

Squashberry
Viburnum edule

Virginia strawberry
Fragaria virginiana

Fireweed
Chamerion angustifolium

More Shrubs Questions

Plants for wet soils in North Carolina
October 03, 2009 - I'm looking for evergreen plants (shrubs or ground cover)that will tolerate wet conditions for the zone 8 area of North Carolina. The local garden centers here do not stock these types of plants, eve...
view the full question and answer

Weeds in Blue Rug juniper in Phoenix MD
September 28, 2009 - The landscaper planted Blue Rug Junipers around the Helleri Holly and Yews in front of my house ten years ago. The Blue Rug has done great and looks really nice. My problem is that weeds grow up in ...
view the full question and answer

Fruit crops to grow in Tennessee mountains
May 27, 2013 - My property has a lot of rock formations throughout it and has hundreds of cedars where it is not pasture. I am wanting to grow fruit trees and berry bushes but don't know what can grow in this e...
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrubs as dust barrier in Georgia
August 20, 2008 - Mr. Smarty Plants, I live on a dirt road in West Central Georgia. Could you recommend a fast growing, low maintenance evergreen shrub or small tree (that will not harm my horses or goats) that will fo...
view the full question and answer

Plants for church gardens in Ft. Worth TX
November 07, 2013 - Second attempt. Our church has many gardens in Fort Worth, TX. There are gardens for blue,red,yellow,white,purple,orange,pink,mixed,community garden,roses, and more. I am interested in the la...
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