Contact Us Host an Event Volunteer Join

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
57 ratings

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
 

More Edible Plants Questions

Non-native pomegranate failing to fruit from Highland Village TX
October 20, 2012 - Last spring I planted a pomegranate tree (type: Wonderful) which is supposed to produce edible fruit. It had 5 or 6 absolutely beautiful blooms, but each of them dropped off and no sign of fruit. Is...
view the full question and answer

Could hickory leaves be used as seasoning from Waynesboro VA
September 17, 2011 - I have a hickory tree. If I pull a leaf off and rip it then smell, there is a strong wonderful scent of hickory much like when I rip a mint leaf there is a strong smell of mint. So my question is, can...
view the full question and answer

Native Grasses as a Hay Crop in Beeville, TX
October 22, 2014 - I am looking to cut Hay on about 38 acres just west of Beeville, Texas. I want to convert the land to native grasses, but I still want to have a decent hay crop that I can sell. What is a good set of ...
view the full question and answer

Who ate the Jack-in-the-Pulpit in Ontario?
July 07, 2009 - Something has dug up my clump of Jack-in-the-pulpit at my parents' cottage in the Haliburtons (Ontario, Canada). Leaves, berries and roots are gone. We know we have a black bear who likes our compo...
view the full question and answer

Edibility of bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) acorns
October 24, 2007 - Is the acorn of the Bur Oak edible?
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Bibliography

Native American Ethnobotany (1998) Moerman, Daniel E.

The Southeastern Indians (1976) Hudson, Charles

Search More Titles in Bibliography