St. Williams Nursery & Ecology Centre is committed to promoting biodiversity through the growth and wholesale of native Ontario plant species. Our plants are great for any large-scale gardening, or landscaping project, boasting subtle, yet crucial benefits, such as: the promotion of pollinators, like bees, which is of growing importance as the bee population continues to fall. While the less obvious benefits of planting native are certainly important, did you know that many of our species are actually edible? It’s true, some of the plants that we offer are not only beautiful, but delicious as well, and we’ve put together a list of the top five edible species that we offer to make your garden as tasty as it is attractive.
1. American Plum Plant (Prunus americana)
The American Plum is a small, single trunk tree or multi-stemmed shrub with a broad, spreading crown. As a shrub, it suckers freely, and can form large colonies. Clusters of white flowers appear before the foliage. Flowers are followed by delicious, round, red plums with bright yellow pulp, which ripen in early summer.
2. Common Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa)
A globular shrub with tightly clustered basal stems. Upright branches become arching with age. Small white flowers in conical spikes are followed by clusters of pea-sized, red berries. Stems, roots and foliage are poisonous if eaten but the berries may be consumed as jelly or wine after cooking. The dense root system makes it useful for soil stabilization and erosion control on moist sites.
3. Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa)
Black Chokeberry is an open, upright, spreading deciduous shrub featuring clusters of white flowers in spring which are followed by blackish purple, blueberry-sized fruits. Lustrous, dark green foliage turns an attractive purplish red in autumn. Although technically edible, the fruits are extremely tart and bitter, and are not recommended for eating off the bush, but may be used for making tasty jams and jellies.
4. American Hazel (Corylus americana)
American hazelnut is a deciduous multi-stemmed shrub with showy male catkins (flowers) and inconspicuous female catkins in early spring. Female flowers give way to small, egg-shaped, edible nuts (maturing July-August) which are encased in leafy, husk-like, ragged-edged bracts. The nuts are delicious, and as an added bonus, the plant is eaten by many birds and small mammals, making it an excellent promoter of biodiversity.
5. Round Leaved Serviceberry (Amelanchier sanguinea)
Round-leaved Serviceberry is a deciduous, early-flowering, large shrub or small tree with showy, fragrant, white spring flowers. Summer fruits resemble miniature apples and are reddish to purple when mature. The fruits can be eaten, and the spring pollen and nectar produced by the plant are an excellent source of food for bees, which as we mentioned earlier, is very important.
As you can see, we offer quite the variety of edible species, whether the plant yields a fruit to be eaten directly, or berries that can be cooked into a jam. Providing edible plants is just one more way that St. Williams is helping you to improve your gardening or landscaping projects.
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