Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!

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
62 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

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

Identifying a plant similar to sarsaparilla
September 04, 2011 - I am trying to identify a plant that looks very similar to sasparilla, but has a ring of blue berries at the end of a long stalk, and the plant itself is spreading, not an isolated herb like sasparill...
view the full question and answer

Getting rid of invasive Florida betony from Myrtle Beach SC
April 28, 2012 - How can I get rid of Florida Betony from my lawn and flower beds/ garden area. Garden area was thoroughly dug up and hand picked of all tubules last year at least a foot deep. They are much worse now....
view the full question and answer

Vegetables for sustainable garden in Rochester NY
July 08, 2009 - I have decided to start growing a small sustainable garden. Therefore I have decided to plant mostly North American native greens and vegetables. I live in upstate New York and so the plants designed ...
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

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