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best tasting shrubs

 
Dave Aiken
Posts: 26
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Curious what the best tasting (to humans) berries produced on shrubs. I already have lots of wild raspberries, highbush cranberry, and wild plum growing. I'd like to add to the diversity of shrubs, mostly in the understory if an existing low-lying woodland. But I'm also interested in things requiring sun that could be in a clearing or used in a hedgerow. Being partial to shrubs native to the Midwestern US, I'm particularly interested in the comparison of:

serviceberry
winterberry
chokeberry
nannyberry
Nanking cherry

If anybody has experience with the taste of these, especially on an relative basis, I'd appreciate it. I'm open to non-natives, but I'd like to start with this list. And I'm more concerned about the taste, raw, such as in a foraging situation. We may make jams and jellies, too, but I want berries that taste good right off the plant.

Thanks!
 
Adrien Lapointe
steward
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Location: Kingston, Canada (USDA zone 5a)
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Serviceberries aka saskatoon berries or amelanchiers are great tasting right off the tree. They are not as sweet as raspberries but really good tasting. I have seen bushes of them growing in full sun and I am not sure how they do in partial shade. You might also want to consider the non-native nitrogen fixing sea-buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides). The fruits are not amazing off the tree but make great juice and you have the added nitrogen fixing benefit.
 
David Goodman
gardener
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Location: Zone 9a/8b
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Nanking cherries are so-so. Edible, for sure, but better processed than straight off the bush. I also think goumi berries (and other eleagnus) are exceptionally nice (taste good, prolific, fix nitrogen, etc.), but they don't fit in with being natives to your region.

Elderberries are another good "edge"/understory species.
 
Victor Johanson
Posts: 365
Location: Fairbanks, Alaska
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Don't forget ribes (currants/gooseberries) and haskaps (aka honeyberries).
 
Dave Aiken
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Thanks, everyone.
 
Brad Vietje
Posts: 66
Location: Newbury, VT (Zone 4)
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Hey Dave,

Serviceberry, a.k.a. Juneberry are very good! There's a tiny organic farm a few miles from me that makes yogurt, and their Juneberry flavor is fan-tas-ti-co! Great taste and texture. They must have a shorter variety, probably a Saskatoon cultivar that grows shorter and wider and more prolific, as the native Junies around here have most of their berries way up in the birdy zone where I can't reach 'em! Also a favorite of Black Bears, so the larger wild trees often have claw marks and broken branches from Bears climbing up for a feast.
 
Tom Kozak
Posts: 88
Location: Sudbury ON, Canada
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my hometown (guelph) planted almost 50 serviceberry along a boulevard downtown, unfortunately they used a variety that produces berries so bitter even the birds wont eat them! watch out!
 
Miles Flansburg
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Location: Zones 2-4 Wyoming and 4-5 Colorado
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I always liked the taste of my nankings, if I could ever get them before the birds did!
 
Brenda Groth
pollinator
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Location: North Central Michigan
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my two favorites here are black raspberry and hazelnut..it took very little time to get hazelnuts producing here in Michigan.
 
Rick Roman
pollinator
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Location: Pennsylvania Pocono Mt Neutral-Acidic Elv1024ft AYR41in Zone 5b
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Low bush blueberry. Small berries, Extremely flavorful. I can't think of a tastier bush fruit.
 
Josh T-Hansen
Posts: 143
Location: Zone 5 Brimfield, MA
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I remember Black chokecherry (aronia) well because it is remarkably bad tasting by itself. I just learned from wikipedia that the red is more palatable, but still best for jams and such. Mulberries can be shrubby and the one dwarf maxes at 8' but i've read its not the best mulberry. A so-so mulberry might be better raw than even a nanking. Oregon grapes (not a grape) i've had weren't very good raw. Thimbleberries are very nice.
 
Chad Hadsell
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Location: Portland, OR
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I like Salal, but I can't seem to find any definitive info on how it would do in the mid-west. It's berries are vaguely fuzzy, and taste like a slightly blander blueberry. It does fantasticly in the shade out here in the PNW.
 
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