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This list of shade tolerant edible plants is a work in progress and we’d love to hear your experiences with these and other plants.
Use this unique, beautiful, semi-evergreen vine to cover a fence or wall, or on an arbor or trellis. Cascading deep green foliage accents the profuse, wonderfully fragrant flowers, which range in color from very dark purple to white. Native to Japan and China, Akebia can bear unique and unusual, light blue, 4″-6″ long, edible fruits. When ripe, it splits open to reveal a row of black seeds in clear sweet pulp.
Native to the forests of eastern Russia where it is called Kishmish, Arctic Beauty Kiwi is the hardiest of all the Kiwi Species. A beautiful vine, its unique, light and airy foliage is splashed in the spring with green, white, and pink variegations. Male plants are especially colorful and are often planted alone for their ornamental value. Less vigorous than the Hardy or Fuzzy Kiwi and happier with some shade, you can use Arctic Beauty to cover the north side of a fence, arbor, or trellis. Enjoy the fuzzless fruit skin just like on the other Hardy Kiwi varieties.
Arctic Raspberry is prized for its attractive flowers and tasty fruit in addition to being one of the hardiest of fruiting plants. Also known as Nagoonberry, this thornless, low growing species of Raspberry makes a beautiful, fruiting ground-cover. Its 1″ diameter, pink flowers bloom in late spring and are followed by sweet-tart, deliciously aromatic, small red berries in July.
Ask your European and Russian friends about Currants. A favorite fruit for many people around the world, most of us American’s have not had the opportunity to taste these delicious berries. Beautiful additions to your yard or landscape, these upright growing shrubs are attractive in bloom and a striking sight in fruit, with large clusters of pink, red, white or black berries cascading down the heavily laden branches. Currants are rich in antioxidants and have a much higher vitamin C content than oranges.
These easy to grow, small to medium-size shrubs are prized for their beautiful, large, white or pink flower heads, which are followed by large quantities of blue-black tasty and nutritious berries in late summer. Or ornamental varieties offer exceptionally attractive foliage in addition to fruit. Prepare delicious “elderberry fritters” from clusters of Elderberry flowers and make jelly, syrup or wine from the berries.
Growing throughout our Northwest coastal forests, this very attractive, upright growing shrub is prized for its deep green, evergreen foliage and flavorful, juicy, dark blue fruit, which is great for fresh eating and makes delicious preserves and Huckleberry pies. Evergreen Huckleberry likes shade or sun and moist, well-drained, acidic soil. It will grow to 8 ft. in height in the shade and 3-4 ft. in height in the sun. Space 3-4 ft. apart to make a beautiful, edible, evergreen hedge.
These attractive, compact shrubs are widely grown and prized by gardeners in many countries. Tasty jewels of our fruit world, the newer varieties we offer are large, sweet and very good for fresh eating, preserves and pies. Our Gooseberry varieties are also easy to grow and disease-resistant.
Native to the Russian Far East, China and Japan, Goumi is a very popular fruit in these regions and is now widely planted in many European and American gardens. Goumi forms a medium size shrub growing to 6 ft in height with attractive, silvery green foliage. It’s white flowers bloom in the middle to the end of May and are very fragrant and loved by bees making it a fantastic pollinator. The juicy, scarlet-red fruit is speckled with silver and ripens in July. Aromatic with a flavor reminiscent of pie cherries, it is very good eaten fresh and also makes tasty preserves.
This valuable and attractive shrub is prized for its medicinal properties, fruit, and ornamental value. Highbush Cranberry features large clusters of snow-white flowers in the spring followed in September by bright red berries and striking reddish orange foliage. After frost removes their bitterness, the berries are used for preserves, candy and baked goods. The flowers, fruit, fruit and seeds are used in herbal medicine as a fever reducer, to lower blood pressure and treat heart disease.
A very hardy and unique small shrub, Honeyberry is a species of Honeysuckle with sweet and tasty fruit. Native to Eastern Siberia, the Russian Far East, and Northern Japan, Honeyberry is valued for its tasty, blueberry-like fruit, its extremely early ripening, often two weeks before strawberries, and its exceptional hardiness, to minus 40 degrees F., or below. Great for fresh eating, juicing, and preserves.
Oregon’s State Flower, Oregon Grape is an attractive, drought-resistant, evergreen shrub that grows to about 6 ft. in height and spread. Oregon Grape displays abundant, small yellow flowers in early spring accented by glossy green foliage, which often turns purple-red or bronze in the winter. Following the flowers are heavy crops of dark blue berries, which make excellent jelly.
Pawpaws (Asimina triloba) are one of the most unique and delicious fruits that can be grown in the backyard orchard. Native to eastern North America, pawpaws are the only member of the Annonaceae, or custard apple family, that is adapted to temperate climates. Its tropical relatives include the cherimoya, atemoya, guanabana, and soursop, and it is easy to see the resemblance between the pawpaw fruit and that of its tropical cousins. Pawpaw fruit combines delectable, fruity, banana-like flavor with creamy, custard-like flesh. Nutritious as well as delicious, the greenish yellow, 3″-6″ long fruit is unusually high in protein and is a good source of vitamins and minerals. Everything about this plant, from its leaf size and shape to the way its fruits look, taste and smell is tropical, yet it is cold hardy to zone 5 and can be grown in temperate climates from coast to coast. A slow growing, small tree, Pawpaw is naturally disease and pest resistant and features long, tropical-looking foliage that turns a striking bright yellow in the fall. The largest native American fruit, Pawpaw was a significant part of the Native American diet, and with our superior large-fruited varieties, is enjoying new popularity.
A very popular plant with our Northwest Native Americans, Salmonberry forms an attractive upright shrub growing to about 6 ft. in height. Salmonberry features large, pink to red flowers and golden-yellow to reddish fruit that resembles a large raspberry. The berries are variable in quality, but are always liked by birds. The young shoots are also peeled and eaten fresh or boiled as a vegetable.
From the Russian Far East, this attractive vine shares the hardwood forest of that region with Arctic Beauty and Hardy Kiwi, Amur Grape, and Magnolia Vine. Silver Vine is prized for its large, white, fragrant flowers, greenish-silver foliage, and abundant crops of unique, sweet, light orange fruit. Great for covering a fence, wall, or arbor, Silver Vine like partial shade and is hardy to minus 35ºF., USDA Zone 3.
Spicebush, from the laurel family, form attractive shrubs and will have either male or female pale yellow flowers that produce glossy red berries. The leaves, flowers, and berry all have a very flavorful spice which gives it it’s namesake. A Spicebush tea can be made from the aromatic leaves and twigs, and the dried and powdered fruit can be used as a spice.
Thimbleberry bears clusters of large, white flowers followed by Raspberry-like, delectably sweet, red berries. Native Americans ate the fruit fresh and also dried it and mixed it with other berries. This attractive small shrub has very large and soft, maple-leaf shaped foliage.
Wintergreen Shrub, a beautiful evergreen groundcover, is native to the East Coast and produces profuse, small white flowers followed by sweet and flavorful, bright red berries, which taste just like Wintergreen candy. Growing to about 6″ tall, it will spread slowly to a foot or more in diameter.