There are many different kinds of edible berry bushes that you can grow in your garden or find out in the wild. They all have their own unique characteristics and are often used for landscaping your yard.
Most of the cultivated varieties that we see in supermarkets and grocery stores today have been selected and adapted from wild species. They’re bred for their more concentrated flavor and higher content of nutrients.
Some of them are very well-known and you will certainly have heard about them, such as raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries. Others might be more unfamiliar, but not less interesting.
- Related article: Edible Wild Plants
Let’s take a look at 11 of the most delicious and nutritious berries that grow on bushes for you to plant in your yard or garden.
1. Red Raspberries (Rubus strigosus)
Raspberry is one of the most common and well-known berry shrubs found in the wild, and it’s also the easiest to grow.
In nature, you can easily find it along trails or roads, and it grows mostly in the eastern part of the country. Surprisingly, the top producers of cultivated raspberries are the states along the west coast.
Like the other berries of the Rubus genus, raspberry branches are covered in prickles. Be mindful of this when picking.
Raspberries are excellent fresh, for example added to fruit salads, porridge or cereals. They can also be made into jams or used as an ingredient in many preparations, such as pancakes and pies.
Raspberries are very healthy, as they are high in fibers and vitamin C, and low in calories.
2. Blackberries (Rubus allegheniensis)
Blackberries are shrubs which can easily be found in the margins of woods and in abandoned fields. They are native to temperate areas. In the US, they grow mostly on the pacific coast, much like raspberries. Tens of thousands of blackberry hybrids exist, as different species cross-breed easily.
Blackberries are commonly eaten raw or used to make desserts, and can also be a base for alcoholic beverages and candies.
Like raspberries, this plant is one of the easiest to grow and its yield is excellent. Juicy and sweet, blackberries are packed with vitamins C and K, and are high in manganese and iron.
3. Salmonberries (Rubus spectabilis)
Salmonberries are closely related to raspberries and blackberries, and are quite similar in appearance. Their color is their defining characteristic, similar to that of salmon eggs.
They can be grown for food, but their main use is to stabilize eroded soils. In the wild, they are common along the west coast and in wet areas.
Salmonberries have a tart flavor and contain large seeds that taste bitter. They can be eaten raw, but they’re best enjoyed with the addition of sugar, for example in candies or jams.
These berries are rich in vitamins K and C, and manganese.
4. Blueberries (Vaccinium species)
There are many different species of blueberries that occur in the wild. Some of them are also cultivated. Blueberries prefer wet areas and are common in bogs and woods, with some species that thrive at higher altitudes. They are typically found in the northern part of the US.
Blueberries are excellent in jams, pies, and breads, but also dried like raisins. The wild berries are generally smaller and tastier, and have more antioxidants than the cultivated varieties. There are bigger ones too, but just because they have a higher water content.
Anthocyanins are the main antioxidants, which are also responsible for the blue color.
5. Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon)
Cranberries are closely related to blueberries and just like them, they are widespread in the northern areas of the country. They thrive in bogs, swamps, and near lakes. They can also be grown at home by planting them in wet soil.
Cranberry fruits are resistant to cold and can sometimes be found throughout the winter months. Similar species have smaller berries and are also edible.
Cranberries can be eaten fresh or dried. The most well-known use is to make the traditional cranberry sauce served with turkey at Thanksgiving.
They are sometimes also considered a “superfood”, as they are rich in vitamins and antioxidants.
6. Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)
Elderberries grow both in the wild and planted in yards. They are common in the eastern United States and Canada.
Elderberry shrubs can be easily spotted in the springtime thanks to the clusters of small, white flowers, and in the summer because of the dark, round berries. Look for them in woodlands and hedgerows.
Both the elderberry flowers and the fruits are edible, but the latter need to be cooked before eating, as they can otherwise cause nausea. They have a tangy taste, which is very refreshing when they are used to make syrups and juices. Elderberry jam is also delicious.
Moreover, elderberries are very healthy, as they are rich in vitamins C and B6, and antioxidants.
7. Chokeberries (Aronia species)
Chokeberries have recently become well-known because of their nutritional qualities. They are very easy to grow and they also occur in the wild, mostly in the eastern part of North America. They thrive on moist ground, in forests or swamps.
The two most common species of chokeberry bear black, tasty fruits (Aronia melanocarpa) and red, dry ones (Aronia arbutifolia).
Chokeberries can be eaten fresh, if you enjoy their tart flavor, or made into jams and juices if you have a sweeter palate. They are also used to make wine or tea.
These berries are very rich in antioxidants and contain small amounts of iron and calcium.
8. Buffalo Berries (Shepherdia species)
In the US, there are three main species of buffalo berries, which are very difficult to tell apart and are all edible. Shepherdia is a good shrub to cultivate because it can thrive on poor soils, where other plants would lack nutrients. This is thanks to the fact that it can fix the nitrogen in the soil.
Buffalo berries are most often eaten in the form of jams, and sometimes syrups. They can also be consumed raw, but they are a bit bitter and tough to chew.
They are interesting nutritionally because they are rich in lycopene, which is a strong antioxidant. Despite this, eating too many should be avoided, as they can cause intestinal problems.
9. Gooseberries (Ribes uva-crispa)
Gooseberries can be easily found in moist, shady areas in most of North America. Gooseberries can be grown in the ground or in large pots and they prefer moist soil.
They are easily recognizable thanks to their unusual appearance. They are covered in small spikes and can be green, orange, purple, red, yellow, white, or even black.
Gooseberries can be eaten both raw and cooked, in jams or pies. The flavor is quite similar to grapes, but not as sweet. Different varieties can taste more or less sweet or tart.
These fruits are packed with vitamin C, antioxidants, and dietary fiber.
10. Rose Hips (Rosa species)
Rose hip berries are widespread in North America, both in the wild and as garden plants. There are numerous species, all of them edible, including the ornamental ones.
If cultivated for food, they should not be sprayed with chemicals, to avoid ingesting harmful substances. Roses do not like to be fully exposed to the sun.
Rose hips are tiny red fruits with hairy seeds. It’s best to discard these as they can be irritating to eat. Rose hips jams are very tasty, but require patience and time to make. Alternatively, the berries can be eaten raw.
They are an excellent source of beta-carotene and malic acid, but especially of vitamin C.
11. Saskatoon berries (Amelanchier species)
Saskatoons are commonly grown in the United States and they occur in the wild in the northern states and in Canada.
These shrubs can become quite tall, which can make the berries difficult to pick. Another difficulty is that these fruits are loved by birds, which often eat them all before they have even fully ripened.
To be safe, you can harvest them when they are pink in color, instead of waiting for them to become darker as they mature.
Saskatoon berries are very tasty. Some say they are better than blueberries in flavor. They can be eaten raw or used in a variety of preparations. Saskatoon jams and pies are common, but it’s also traditional to use them to make alcoholic drinks, such as cider, beer, and wine.
Compared to other berries, Saskatoon berries have the highest amount of vitamin B2.
Edible Berry Bushes Final Thoughts
There are several types of berry bushes that are edible and tasty. Some are easier to grow than others. If you want to try growing your own fruit, then you will want to know what type of bush you want to plant first.
You may find that one grows well in your area, while another does not. You might also find that certain bushes produce larger quantities of fruit than others.
To learn more about other edible plants, check out these guides: