Create an Edible Garden for People and Wildlife!

By Colleen Beaty, Conservation Content Writer|August 7, 2012

The late summer and early fall are one of the best times that people and wildlife alike can enjoy one of nature’s most delicious bounties – berries. Berries are highly nutritious, providing a mixture of sugars and fats that help animals get through the winter. Migratory birds in particular will stock up on fat for their autumn migration by feeding on berries before flying north.

There are a number of berries that grow in the wild that are safe for humans to eat. These berries are also very nutritious for humans, providing plenty of vitamins and antioxidants that promote good health.

If you are interested in attracting wildlife to your site, you could create an “edible garden” by planting native shrubs and trees that provide berries that both humans and wildlife can eat. Migratory birds, deer, and other wildlife will benefit from the garden with a valuable source of forage. Employees and visitors will be rewarded with the opportunity to view these animals and to sample the delicious berries produced by the garden.

Below are some of the common native edible berry-producing shrubs and trees in North America. It will be important to choose only species that are native to your locale, as wildlife are adapted to the resources provided by native plants and can better access their resources than those of non-native plants. Contact your local native plant society or a WHC Biologist to find out which species from these genera are recommended for your region, or if there are other native edible plants you could add to your garden.

Blackberries & Raspberries Rubus spp.
Blueberries Vaccinium spp.
Serviceberries Amalanchier spp.
Elderberries Sambucus spp.
Cherries Prunus spp.

Sources:
http://www.nwf.org/News-and-Magazines/National-Wildlife/Gardening/Archives/1996/How-to-Hide-a-Berry-Treasure-Around-Your-Home.aspx
http://forestry.about.com/od/silviculture/p/am_bberry.htm
http://www.motherearthnews.com/Organic-Gardening/1999-10-01/Edible-Wild-Plants.aspx

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