A VERY BERRY SAMPLER: Edible Berries in the Wild

By Kim Martin

Photo by MrGajowy3

1. Beautyberry – Used to make jellies and wines, a vital food source for wildlife, it is edible for consumption in small amounts. Its berry growth is of the more unusual manner, clusters growing on the plant stems.

2. Elderberry – Commonly used in medicinal applications as well as juices, jams, pies, and wine, it should be cooked; leaves, stems, bark, and roots are toxic.

3. Mulberry – Is sweet and juicy and packed with vitamin C; used in pies, cordials, and teas. It is also endowed with beneficial minerals and antioxidants.

4. Staghorn Sumac – Unlike the itchy variant of sumac, the staghorn is edible and tasty with a lemony flavor. High in vitamins A and C, it has long been used as a medicinal herb. Red in color, it differentiates from the poisonous variety, which is white.

5. Surinam Cherry – Technically a fruit and considered an invasive species by some, it ranges from pale green to bright red. As with most berries and fruits, the unripe green ones are tart; the dark red ones are tangy and sweet.

6. Wild Black Cherry – Sweet and delicious, these are smaller than traditional cherries and grow from trees that can become tall and full, favored by multitudes of birds.

7. Creeping Cucumber – Can almost resemble a tiny watermelon in its unripe state, which is when it’s safe to consume. Avoid the darkened purple-to-black ripe stage as it is then a powerful laxative.

8. Foot Fruit – While the fruit itself is edible and sweet, the plant and seeds are toxic. The pulp and skin—red, blue, or purple—can be eaten raw or cooked.

9. Huckleberry – Sweet and tart, it is rich in antioxidants and contains more beneficial compounds than some other berries.

10. Black Chokeberry – Though astringent in the raw, it can be cooked for use in baking and in jams, jellies, syrups, tea, juices, and wine. It is also vitamin- and antioxidant-rich with immunity-boosting properties.

11. Muscadine – is a grapevine species with a thick skin ranging in color from gold to purple and black. It is a source of vitamin B2, high in riboflavin and fiber, and used to make muscadine wine.

12. Gooseberry – These grow on bushes and are green to red to purple, varying between tart and sweet. A cup contains nearly 50% of the daily value of vitamin C.