I am really psyched about this list of berries for a few reasons. For one,  it is really exciting to learn about a cool berry you have never heard of. Even better if they are also  fantastic for you and packed with nutrition. Perhaps the most exciting thing is that these berries are all perennial (meaning that they fruit year after year), and can thrive across most of the United States.

Interested in learning how your front yard can turn into a low maintenance exotic berry orchard? Please read on for more information.

1) Aronia


Latin Name: Aronia melanocarpa,  Aronia arbutifolia
USDA Zones: 3-8
Pollination: Self pollinating
Grows in: Almost any soil, full sun or part shade
Mature Size: 3-6′

File:Aronia prunifolia0.jpg

The Aronia bush is a highly overlooked plant, often known by the unappealing name: Chokeberry (not to be confused with the distantly related chokecherry). This name comes from the fact that the berries are very astringent when eaten raw. This native northeastern shrub has existed quietly for years, only recently gaining interest for it’s antioxidant properties.

The two main species are the Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia) and the Black Chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa). The red species is sweeter, while the black species is higher in antioxidants. Both species make a fantastic jam, and are also reputed to make a delicious wine. This website provides more information on how to grow your own Aronia berries.

 

2)  Autumn Olive


Latin Name: Elaeagnus umbellata
USDA Zones: 4-11
Pollination: Self pollinating
Grows in: Almost any soil, full sun
Mature Size: 10-12′

File:Elaeagnus umbellata0001.jpg

Autumn olive is a beautiful tree, with silvery tinged leaves and speckled red berries, it makes quite a lasting first impression. The little red berries, although relatively unheard of, contain 17 times as much Lycopene (an antioxidant) than tomatoes. This is just plain incredible considering how much press tomatoes have gotten for being high in Lycopene.

Unlike Aronia berries, Autumn Olive berries can be eaten raw and are quite delicious. In order to pick them at the right time, pick them just before the first frost in your area. This allows them to fully sweeten, otherwise they are quite tart! Warning: Autumn Olive trees are not native and can become quite invasive if not managed properly.

 

3)  Honeyberry


Latin Name: Lonicera caerulea
USDA Zones: Russian 1-4, Japanese 5-unknown
Pollination: Need 2 compatible varieties to pollinate
Grows in: moist soil, part shade
Mature Size: 4-6′

File:Lonicera coerulea a3.jpg

Honeyberry is a very unusual  fruiting relative of the common honeysuckle. Its fruits are often oddly shaped and about the size and color of a blueberry.  One of the most interesting things about this shrub (aside from being an edible honeysuckle) is that the Japanese variety can withstand temperatures as cold as -40F. This is one of the most cold hardy fruits available!

The flavor has been likened to raspberries, blueberries, and pretty much any other berry you can think of. This might be attributed to the fact that there are so many different varieties. Before indulging be sure to check the inside color: if they are still green on the inside they will taste horrible, but if they have turned a deep red inside, a sweet treat awaits.

 

4) Hardy Kiwi


Latin Name: Actinidia arguta
USDA Zones: 3, or 6-9
Pollination: Need 2 compatible varieties to pollinate
Grows in: well drained soil, full sun
Mature Size: Vine up to 20′ long

File:Weiki01.jpg

Hardy Kiwi is one of my favorite plants. Growing up, a neighbor of mine had this odd kiwi-like plant growing on a trellis in his garden. Each year he would harvest multiple gallons of fruit from it’s beautiful woody vines. Hardy kiwi is not actually a kiwi, and has no brown fuzz coating the fruit. The whole thing can be popped in your mouth for an incredibly sweet pineapple-like taste. The arctic variety can survive in areas as cold as zone 3. Be sure to order a male plant as well since the females can not produce fruit on their own.

Looking to plant some of these guys? Try this article on how to figure out what type of soil you have to get started!

Any comments or questions? Please write below.