Edible Forest

Welcome to the Raisin Region Conservation Authority’s (RRCA) Edible Forest. This site was established in 2016 to inspire landowners and communities looking to plant and grow their own edible native trees and shrubs. Generally high in nutrients, many native edible plants have been traditionally used for their health benefits.

Native trees and shrubs are often hardier and require less maintenance than non-native plants as they have evolved to thrive in our region’s particular climate and conditions.

The signs and tags at the Edible Forest are in place for educational purposes and should not necessarily be used for identification. Visitors may identify, consume, forage, and prepare plants from the Edible Forest at their own risk. Visitors should be aware that ingesting toxic or poisonous plants could lead to life-threating injuries or allergic reactions. In the event of an emergency, call 911.

Explore the Edible Forest and see how many species you can find from the list below:

Highbush Cranberry - Viburnum trilobum

Viburnum = derived from the Latin word vīburnum, meaning "wayfaring tree", which could refer to the plant’s ability to spread easily thanks to birds consuming the seeds and taking them far away. 

trilobum = derived from the word tri, meaning “three” and lobum, meaning "lobes", referring to the three-lobed leaves of the plant.

This deciduous shrub is not actually a true cranberry, but instead a member of the honeysuckle family. The highbush cranberry grows best in well-drained, rich, loamy soils. However, it is still adaptable to a variety of soil types and degrees of light. This shrub can be used for shrub borders, and woodland margins. The berries, which ripen in late summer, are an important food source for bird species including ruffed grouse, cedar waxwings, thrushes, robins, cardinals, grosbeaks and more. The flowers, which bloom in June, attract many pollinators. Other mammals, such as deer, squirrels, and beavers, may also feed on various parts of the shrub.

These berries are safe for human consumption. They can be eaten raw (though they aren’t very tasty that way) or cooked. Like cranberries, they are rich in vitamin C, and have a tart, acidic taste. They are an excellent substitute for cranberries in a variety of recipes including jams, jellies, sauces, and juice. For an example of a sauce made using Highbush Cranberries, check out a recipe here.


Black Elderberry - Sambuscus nigra

Sambucus = Derived from the Greek word sambuca, which was an ancient string instrument similar in appearance to a harp that was typically made of wood from this shrub. 

nigra = The Latin word for the colour black, likely referring to the deep, dark colour of the shrub’s berries. 

Black Elderberry is a deciduous shrub found growing wild in much of southern Ontario. While it can tolerate a wide range of soil conditions, it grows best in well-draining, loam soils in full sun which allow it to blossom and fruit at its best. It is a valuable shrub for wildlife, with its flowers providing nectar to a wide variety of insects and its fruit eaten by birds, and mammals. Black Elderberry is a good choice for large, low areas in a garden or yard. It can also act as a great ground cover for stabilizing streambanks and eroding sites.

Elderberry fruit should not be eaten raw. When properly cooked, these berries can be used in pies, wines, jellies, jams, juices, and soup. They can also be used as a natural dye for food or fabric, where depending on the concentration, can produce a light pink to deep red colour. Elderberry blossoms are also used in wine or deep fried. To see how to make deep fried Elderberry blossoms, check out this recipe. Elderberry has also been used traditionally to make herbal cold remedies. To see a recipe for elderberry syrup, see this article

Pawpaw - Asimina triloba

Asimina = adapted from the Native American words assimin or rassimin, the first part of the word rassi, meaning “divided lengthwise into equal parts” and min, meaning “fruit, nut, seed, berry, etc.”, referring to the fruit of the tree being symmetric in shape.

triloba = derived from the prefix tri, meaning “three” and loba meaning "lobes", referring to the trees three-lobed calyx (the outer part of a flower that encloses/protects the unopened flower bud). 

The Pawpaw is a unique tree in appearance. Its large, smooth leaves hang down, making it look almost like a tropical plant. This species grows in the Carolinian forest zone in southwestern Ontario, around Lake Erie, and the Niagara region. Its population has seen a decline in recent years due to deforestation. The Pawpaw grows best in rich, loam soils that are moist to wet, in partial to full shade. The tree needs to be planted in pairs to ensure that the flowers are pollinated as the trees do not self-pollinate. The berries produced by the Pawpaw are popular among many animal species. 

The flowers of the Pawpaw are quite unique, with a distinctive odour often likened to rotting meat. This, coupled with their dark brown petals, makes them well adapted to attracting flies and beetles as pollinators through appearing as decaying matter. The Pawpaw produces large (4-16 centimeter) berries that have a yellow-orange flesh when they ripen in the autumn. The taste of this fruit has been described as sweet, like a cross between a banana and mango, and with a soft texture. To see what you can do with Pawpaw fruit, check out these recipes.


Saskatoon Serviceberry -  Amelanchier alnifollia

Amelanchier = Derived from the French name of the European species Amelachier ovalis

alnifolia = Compound word, combining the Latin word alnus, meaning “alder” and folium, meaning “leaf”, possibly referring to the similarities between leaves of the serviceberry and alders. 

The common name for the plant appears to have been named after a shortened version of Native American words, such as the Blackfoot name for the berry “misask-a-tomina” or the Cree name “mis-ask-quah-toomina”

Saskatoon Serviceberry is one of many serviceberry species found across Ontario. These upright, multi-stemmed shrubs are adaptable to all but waterlogged areas. However, they prefer moist, well-draining soil. Saskatoon Serviceberries grow best in part to full sun and can tolerate the occasional drought. They are a popular choice for landscaping as single trees or hedges as they offer pretty flowers, berries, and nice foliage. Given their fibrous root system, the Saskatoon Serviceberry can be transplanted with ease and can be used in windbreaks and for erosion control. The white, clustered flowers that bloom from May to June provide food for many pollinators, and their fruit is eaten by birds and small mammals. 

Saskatoon Serviceberries produce edible berries that ripen in early to mid-summer. When ripe, the berry is sweet, soft, and juicy with a few small seeds in the center. These berries can be eaten raw, or used in baking, jams, and wines. To see someone detail their attempt at making homemade serviceberry wine, see this blog post


Nannyberry - Viburnum lentago

Viburnum = Derived from the Latin word vīburnum, meaning wayfaring tree, which could refer to the plant’s ability to spread far and wide through birds. 

lentago = Derived from the Latin word for “flexible”, referring to the twigs that, while tough, are also quite pliable. 

Nannyberry is a very adaptable deciduous shrub. It performs well in both dry and moist soil conditions and types. The shrub also tolerates full sun to full shade. Though it grows naturally as a shrub, Nannyberry can be maintained as a small tree by pruning the stems and removing the suckers at its base. The shrub makes an excellent landscaping tree and is used as a specimen tree, in borders, and in windbreaks. It is also small enough to fit under powerlines. Nannyberry have non-fragrant, cream-coloured flowers, arranged in a flat topped clusters that attract many bees and butterflies. The fruit, which ripens in the fall, can persist into December, and offer a stable food source in the wintertime to many birds and small mammals. Nannyberry is also a host to the larval and caterpillar forms of the azure butterfly. 

Nannyberry fruit can be eaten raw or cooked. Each fruit contains one flat seed and when ripe has a taste akin to a banana and date. The berries have been used to make tea, jam, jelly, smoothies, milkshakes, and sorbets. For two interesting recipes, check out a recipe for nannyberry cake and one for nannyberry mousse.


Black Chokeberry - Aronia melanocarpa 

Aronia = Derived from the Greek word aria. This word is also used for another genus of trees, the whitebeams, whose fruits are similar in appearance to the chokeberry. 

melanocarpa = Compound word derived from the Greek words melas or melanos, meaning “black” and karpos, meaning “fruit”, referring to the shrub’s black berries.   

Black Chokeberry, also called aronia or aroniaberry, is a member of the rose family. These deciduous shrubs are seen in Ontario in forests, along streams and bogs, and in other wet areas. These shrubs prefer to grow in wet and acidic soils, with full to part sun. Black Chokeberries are often planted in shrub borders or small gardens. In more urban areas, they serve as a good alternative to non-native plant species. To control their size, unwanted suckers can be pruned from the base of the shrubs. Black Chokeberries attract many birds, insects, and mammals. They produce small clusters of white flowers that bloom in mid to late spring after the risk of frost has ended. Bees are the primary pollinators, but these shrubs also attract butterfly species as well. In late summer, Black Chokeberries produce a purple-black fruit, about the size of a blueberry. They hang in clusters on a small stalk where they are eaten by birds, or small mammals after they have dropped to the forest floor. Deer and rabbits are also known to browse on the leaves, twigs and dropped fruit. 

The berries of Black Chokeberry are somewhat unpleasant when eaten raw (hence their common name), but when processed have a sweet and slightly acidic taste. The berries are high in antioxidants, compounds that have been linked to decreasing the risk of certain diseases. The berries are also high in pectin, making them a great choice for jams and jellies. Juice, tea, and wine have also been made using these berries. For some ideas on what you can do with chokeberries, check out these recipes


Chokecherry - Prunus virginiana

Prunus = The classical Latin name for a plum tree. This genus is large, with approximately 430 species, containing a wide range of fruiting trees such as peaches, apricots, cherries, etc.

virginiana = Refers to Virginia, often roughly translated to “of Virginia” 

Chokecherry is a common deciduous shrub, growing from coast to coast. It covers both southern and central Ontario from the tip of James Bay to Opasquia Provincial Park. The shrub grows in rich, well-draining soil, in moisture levels ranging from average to moist. Though chokecherry can tolerate somewhat shady conditions, they prefer full sun. Chokecherry can be trained to be single stemmed (appearing more tree-like) through the careful pruning of sucker branches that grow from their root system. To reduce root suckering, young shoots should be torn carefully by hand instead of using tools. Chokecherry is commonly used in shelterbelts, windbreaks and for wildlife habitat. It can form dense thickets, which provides thermal cover over the water, and its root system can stabilize shores. As such, it is a popular choice for erosion control. 

The small white flowers of Chokeberry provide nectar to bees, butterflies, and ants. The fruit feeds birds, rabbits, and bears. Birds also use the shrub for protection and nesting, while deer browse them in the winter. Besides the berry, every part of the chokecherry contains hydrocyanic acid, which is poisonous to humans. The fruit tastes quite bitter until fully ripe, indicated by a purple black colour. The fruit can be used to make jam, wine, syrup, jelly, and can also be dried. To see how to make dried chokecherry patties, check out this recipe

Staghorn Sumac - Rhus typhina

Rhus = Derived from the Greek word rhóos, meaning “to flow”, possibly referring to the tree’s milky sap.

typhina = Derived from the description of the plant given by Carl Linnaeus (the man responsible for creating the system used for naming plants and animals) “Ramis hirtis uti typhi cervine”, which means “the branches are rough as velvet horns”, referring to the antlers bucks when in velvet.

Other authors cite that typhina could refer to the resemblance of its velvety branches to members of the genus Typha (cattails). 

Staghorn Sumac is one of the largest sumac species, reaching up to almost 8 meters in length and width. The hairy stems of these shrubs resemble the antlers on a male deer when in velvet, which gives the Staghorn Sumac its name. These shrubs are found in southern Ontario, in well-draining, dry to moist soil. Shade intolerant, Staghorn Sumacs need full sun to grow properly. Staghorn Sumacs are often planted as an ornamental shrub due to their beautiful fuzzy clusters of dark red fruits and stunning autumn foliage. Due to their dense root system, they also make a good candidate for erosion control. 

Staghorn Sumacs produce flower clusters made up of hundreds to thousands of small (approx. 3 millimeters) white to greenish flowers on the tips of branches. These flowers bloom from June to July and attract a wide variety of pollinators including bees, beetles, and wasps. From early fall into winter, the dense, fuzzy, clusters of dark red fruits feed birds and small mammals. The shrubs also provide shelter for birds, deer, rabbits and more. 

The bark, leaves, and fruit of Staghorn Sumacs are rich in compounds that can be used to make coloured dyes and inks. The leaves produce a tannin that is used to make brown dye; often used to tan hides. The inner bark and pith can be made into an orange dye and by boiling the leaves can produce a black ink. Lastly, oil can be extracted from the seeds and used in candle making. Historically, the sap was also used to treat warts. The fruits are safe for human consumption and can be used in baked goods such as pies. The fruits can also be soaked in water to make a tart, lemonade-like drink. Want to make this drink? Follow this recipe

Swamp Rose - Rosa palustris

Rosa = The Latin word for rose.

palustris = Derived from the Latin words palūs, meaning “swamp” and the suffix -al, meaning “of” or pertaining to,” referring to the shrub’s preference for wetter habitats.

Swamp Rose is an upright, deciduous, multi-branched shrub with branches that arch elegantly. You can find this shrub in southern Ontario growing along stream banks, in swamps and marshes, and other places with wet ground. It grows best in slightly acidic, wet, well-draining soils that are rich in organics. Swamp Rose can tolerate part shade though for best flowering and disease resistance, should be planted in full sun. Swamp Rose can spread slowly through suckers, where new vertical growth will emerge from the original plants root system. This shrub can attract a wide variety of wildlife to your yard, such as bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds, who are attracted to the fragrant, pink roses that bloom from late spring to early summer. 

After pollination, the fleshy, reddish orange fruit (called a hip), ripens in late summer to early autumn. Rose hips are eaten by songbirds and small mammals, who are also responsible for spreading the seeds to new areas. Rose hips are high in vitamin C and can be either dried for tea or fresh in jam and jelly. To see how to make your own rose hip tea see this recipe.  

Common Redbud - Cercis canadensis

Cercis = Derived from the Greek word kerkís, meaning “weaver’s shuttle”, referencing the resemblance of the seed pods to a weaver’s shuttle (tool used to store and carry the yarn while weaving with a loom). 

canadensis = Latin word for “Canada”, in reference to Canada being part of the tree’s native range.

The common redbud is a small tree, that reaches between six and seven meters in height and width. Although the tree has been regarded as extirpated (extinct locally while existing elsewhere), it has been planted in various parts of southern Ontario in landscapes due to its beauty. The common redbud can tolerate a wide variety of growing conditions, like soil types and light requirements. However, it does best in moist, well-draining soils in full sun. Due to its tolerance of many environmental conditions, the common redbud is a popular choice for gardens. The trees are highly ornamental in the spring and summer, stay a nice and compact size, and are reasonably free of serious diseases.

Common redbud flowers range from pink to a reddish purple, and bloom in clusters of two to eight in May. The flowers are an important source of nectar for pollinators, especially since these flowers bloom long before other species do. In fact, the flowers bloom before any leaves grow in! After pollination, the tree will produce flat, reddish-brown pods about five to ten centimeters long, each containing four to ten beanlike seeds. The fruit will ripen in mid-summer and persist into winter where they are eaten by birds, deer, and squirrels. The bark of the common redbud has been used as an astringent in the treatment of dysentery while the flowers can be put in salads, used for tea, fried, or used to make jelly. To see a recipe for redbud jelly, check out this recipe


Wild Plum - Prunus americana

Prunus = The classical Latin name for a plum tree. This genus is large, with approximately 430 species, containing a wide range of fruiting trees such as peaches, apricots, cherries, etc.

americana = Refers to this tree’s origin in America.

Wild Plum is a small, fast-growing, short-lived, colony forming tree. While native to southern Ontario, wild plums have been planted across Ontario as an ornamental tree. Wild plums are seen growing around fencerows, in open fields, along roadsides, river edges, and streams. They are also a good candidate for erosion control as their roots are very good at holding soil. While wild plums are drought and shade tolerant, they prefer moist well-draining soil with full sun. These trees provide wildlife with food and shelter. Their showy, white, or pink flowers, bloom from April to May and attract many pollinators. In August to September, these trees produce sweet, edible plums, about one inch in diameter, that have pink to red skin. These plums are eaten by birds, black bears, wolves, foxes, and more. Wild plums form dense thickets that shelter small mammals, and birds who nest and roost within. In the winter, the twigs and leaves are browsed on by deer.

While the plums are edible, the leaves and pit of the fruit contain hydrocyanic acid and should be avoided. The plums can be made into jams, jellies, preserves, and pies. Follow this recipe to learn how to make candied wild plums. 

Black Cherry -Prunus serotina

Prunus = Classical Latin name for a plum tree. This genus is large, with approximately 430 species, containing a wide range of fruiting trees such as peaches, apricots, cherries, etc.

serotina = From the Latin word serotinus, meaning “late” or “late in development” which could refer to this species having a later flowering time then other species within the genus. 

Black cherry can be seen growing across southern Ontario. Its fruit makes this tree important for birds and small mammals. The small (8-10 centimeter) berries, that ripen in late August to early September are edible, though somewhat bitter. However, all other parts of this tree contain hydrocyanic acid, a toxic chemical compound that has the capability to harm humans and cattle. Oddly, the leaves of this tree are said to smell like almonds when crushed.

Black cherry can tolerate a broad range of moisture levels and soil types. However, it is shade intolerant, so plant in full sun. Black cherry can grow up to 22 meters in height, though when grown in colder climates, will become shorter and more shrub-like. This tree is a popular choice as an ornamental due to its attractive white flowers, that grow in elongated clusters. 

Black cherry wood was once a popular choice for carpentry due to its workability and unique reddish-brown colour. It was commonly used in cabinetry, interior finishes (such as flooring and trim), furniture, musical instruments, toys, and scientific instruments. However, over time the wood has become scarcer. The edible berries have been used to flavour alcoholic beverages like rum and brandy and are also made into jam and jelly. In the past, early settlers used the leaves and inner bark to create tonics, cough syrup and sedatives due to the compounds present acting to quell spasms in muscles such as the lining of the bronchioles (tiny branching air tubes in the lungs). This, however, is not recommended now. To see how to make your own jam using this fruit see "Wild Cherry Jam"


Northern Hackberry - Celtis occidentalis

Celtis = the Greek word given to the hackberry tree. The name hackberry is a debased form of the Scottish word “hagberry” which is a species of cherry tree. 

occidentalis = from the Latin word occidēns, meaning “west” and ālis meaning “to grow”, therefore it means “to grow in the west.” 

Northern hackberry is the largest native hackberry species. They can be found scattered across southern Ontario, from Windsor to the Ottawa Valley in forests where they grow tall canopies. Northern hackberries typically grow in moist bottomlands near rivers and lakes, however, they are also very adaptable to dry and windy areas, as well as urban spaces. These trees can grow in all soil types and light exposure but do best in wet to dry soils with good drainage. Northern hackberries have small flowers that are white or green in colour. Despite being largely pollinated by the wind, butterflies are still attracted to them. These trees produce deep purple, fleshy drupes that ripen in late summer. The fruit feeds game birds and small mammals during fall and winter. Rabbits and deer are also provided shelter by these trees.  

Hackberry wood can be used to create many products, including furniture, plywood, baskets, crates, and athletic equipment. Historically, settlers in Illinois used the wood as a treatment for jaundice. Its fruit can be used for jellies, as preserves, in candy bars, in souffles, and dried and ground into a spice. These fruits have a sweet taste akin to squash or dates. A milk alternative can even be made using the seeds. For a recipe on Hackberry milk and candy bars, click here.   

American Hazelnut - Corylus americana

Corylus = derived from the Greek word Korylos, meaning “helmet”, referring to the hard, husk, acting as a helmet to protect the nut inside. 

americana = Refers to this tree’s origin in America.

American hazelnut is a thicket forming deciduous shrub that can grow to four meters high. It can be found growing in rocky woodlands, forests, hillsides, pastures, and thickets. While this tree can tolerate the occasional drought, American hazelnut prefers moist, well drained soils with full to part sun. This shrub is valued as an ornamental specimen and is useful for border planting due to its colonial tendency. American hazelnut can be easily maintained in a desired shape and size through the pruning.

American hazelnut has many wildlife benefits. Its dense and low growth provides cover and nesting sites for small mammals and birds. Its flowers, that bloom in the spring, attract bees and butterflies. This shrub has both male and female flowers. The female flowers are small, pink, and found at the ends of branches. The male flowers (called catkins) are long, yellow and grow in clusters of two to three. The catkins serve as food for game birds such as ruffed grouse and wild turkey. American hazelnut produces light brown, acorn-like nuts that are enclosed in a course, toothed husk. The nuts are eaten by squirrels, foxes, deer, and birds including jays, grouse, woodpeckers, etc. Deer, moose, and rabbits also browse on the twigs and leaves in the wintertime. 

These hazelnuts, while smaller than commercially sold hazelnuts, are just as tasty. The sweet nuts can be eaten raw, toasted, or ground into flour for baking. They were also used by Indigenous people in the past to flavour soups. To make your own hazelnut soup, check out this recipe


Beaked Hazelnut - Corylus cornuta

Corylus = derived from the Greek word Korylos, meaning “helmet”, referring to the hard, husk, acting as a helmet to protect the nut inside. 

cornuta = derived from the Latin word cornū, meaning “horned” or “having horns”, referring to the horny projection on the beaked fruit of the tree. 

Beaked hazelnut is a deciduous, multi-stemmed shrub that can grow up to 10 meters tall. Beaked hazelnut got its name from its uniquely shaped fruit. The round nuts, which grow in clusters of two to six, are enclosed in a light green, hairy, flask-shaped husk that extends beyond the nut to form a curved beak. This shrub is found in dry, rocky woodlands, forests, and swamps. The shrub grows best in moist, well-draining soil with full to part sun. Beaked hazelnut has been used in naturalized sites or to form barriers/hedges. Beaked hazelnut is also a good choice of shrub in wildlife preserves, where it provides cover and food to squirrels, chipmunks, ruffed grouse, hairy woodpeckers, blue jays, and deer. Beaked Hazelnut has two different types of flowers. This includes long, yellow, drooping male catkins and small, red, mostly hidden female flowers. The flowers bloom from late April to early May, and though pollinated by the wind, still attract butterflies. 

Beaked hazelnut is grown commercially for their edible nuts. Indigenous people had several uses for the shrub. Its nuts were eaten raw or toasted. Milk was made from its nuts and used to treat coughs and colds, heal cuts, and used as an astringent. The nuts were also boiled to extract oil which was used for flavouring. The wood from the shrub was fashioned into a variety of objects, including arrows, fishing traps, hooks, and spoons. The long flexible shoots of the shrub were also twisted together to create rope. To see what you can make from Hazelnut, look at these recipes

Butternut - Juglans cinerea

Juglans = Combines the Latin word Ju reffering to Jupiter, the Roman king of the gods and glans meaning “nut”. It is said that nuts, specifically walnuts, were considered food of the gods and eaten atop Mount Olympus.

cinerea = Derived from a Latin adjective meaning “ash-like” or “ash-coloured” referring to the ash grey colour of the tree’s bark. 

A member of the walnut family, butternut trees can be found scattered across most mixed and deciduous forests in southern Ontario except for the Bruce Peninsula and Manitoulin Island. These trees produce large, sharply ridged nuts, that contain a single seed encapsulated by a light green, sticky, and elongated husk. This fruit is a food source for birds, squirrels, and other small mammals. Butternut trees are relatively short lived and have seen a steep decline in recent years. The main culprit of this decline is Butternut Canker, a fungal disease that can spread quickly throughout the trees and kill them within a few years. The diseased areas, called “cankers”, develop under the bark and can, in effect, strangle the tree, cutting off the circulation of water and nutrients. Butternut trees are now considered an endangered species and are protected by the Endangered Species Act. To see more information on recovery strategies visit the Ontario page Butternut (Species at Risk) or for more information about the Ontario's Invading Species Awarness Program article on Butternut Canker

Butternut trees can tolerate moist to moderately dry soils, though prefers a moister soil. They  grow best in well-drained, rich soils in valleys or on slopes. These trees are shade intolerant and need full sun. In the wild, these trees are often seen growing in sunny openings of forests or near their edges to get their required sun level. 

In the past, wood from Butternut trees was used to make cabinetry, furniture, and veneer. They were also grown and cultivated for their edible nuts, which are valued for their buttery taste. These nuts can be eaten on their own or mixed into breads, sauces, and other dishes. The husks and bark of Butternut contain a tannin that, when boiled, can create a yellow-brown dye for fabric or for making ink, which can stain your hands for weeks! Indigenous people also used Butternut medicinally to treat toothaches, injuries, and digestive problems. Check out "Cracking Butternuts or White Walnuts Juglans cinerea" to see what these nuts look like. 


Black Walnut - Juglans nigra

Juglans = Combines the Latin word Ju for Jupiter, the Roman king of the gods and glans meaning “nut”. It is said that nuts, specifically walnuts, were considered food of the gods and eaten atop Mount Olympus.

nigra = Greek word for the colour black, referring to the dark colour of the bark and nut of the tree. 

Black Walnut is easily recognized by its dark, thickly ridged bark and coarse branches. It is commonly found in the moist bottomlands of southwestern Ontario though it has started to expand further northeast. This is due to both planting efforts and through the help of local squirrels. The nuts and fruits of these trees are a good food source for squirrels and other wildlife species. Similar in appearance to butternuts, black walnuts can be told apart using its fruit, which is larger and rounder in shape than the smaller, elongated fruit of Butternuts. 

Black Walnuts grow best in rich, well-draining and moist soils. They are shade-intolerant and need to be planted in full sun to survive. Black Walnuts can be found growing in pockets along forest edges, where there is an adequate amount of sunlight. Black Walnut can deter nearby competition thanks to a chemical compound released from their roots and decaying leaves. This chemical, called juglone, is a substance that can inhibit the growth of other plants. Never fear, however, as many of Ontario’s native species are unaffected by this substance. 

Black Walnuts are renowned for their strong, dark heartwood, which is used to make high quality furniture, cabinetry, interior paneling, veneer, turned items and gunstocks. Be careful when handling the roots and seed husks as they contain compounds that can stain hands. The compound has been used for making a strong black dye. While the nuts of the tree are difficult to extract from their shells, they are high in fats and nutrients, compared to other wild nuts. They can be eaten plain, drizzled with honey, or used to flavour candy, cakes, and ice cream. Check out "Black Walnut Harvesting: From Start to Finish" for a closer look at what goes into harvesting walnuts. 


White Oak - Quercus alba

Quercus = Comes from the classical Latin name for oak trees.

alba = The Latin word for “white." 

White Oak is a massive tree that can grow to be more than 35 meters tall. The tree has wide, horizontally spreading branches with bright green leaves. It can be found in southern Ontario and can live for several hundred years. White oak is very adaptable and can tolerate a wide range of environmental conditions, such as soil type, moisture level and light exposure. However, white oak will thrive in moist, rich soils in the full sun. White oak is planted as an ornamental tree and used as a shade provider in larger landscapes like parks. White oak should be kept away from septic systems and drainage tiles, which can be damaged by its deep root system. 

White Oak provides a variety of services to wildlife. Its strong branches and large canopy provide roosting and nesting sites for birds, and its base is often used as a denning site for mammals such as racoons and squirrels. The twigs and leaves of the are also used as nesting materials. The round, single or paired nut is enclosed within an acorn that has a warty cap. These acorns ripen in the fall and feed a wide variety of animal species, including rodents, bears, squirrels, and birds. White oak is valued as one of the most important hardwoods in North America. Its wood is hard, waterproof, durable, and elastic. It is particularly coveted for barrels and casks for whiskey and wines, as well as for shipbuilding. It is also used for railroad ties, lumber (furniture and flooring) and burned as firewood. The acorns are sweet and can be eaten raw or cooked. The nuts can be ground up into flour for baking or even roasted and ground into a caffeine-free coffee substitute. To learn how to make acorn coffee, check out this recipe.

Red Cedar - Juniperus virginiana

Juniperus = derived from the Latin word junio, meaning “young” and parere, meaning “to produce”, “youth producing”, referring to its status as an evergreen tree. 

virginiana = Refers to Virginia, often roughly translated to “of Virginia” 

Though the eastern red cedar looks similar to other cedars, this species is actually a tree sized juniper! These slow growing trees are found throughout eastern Ontario, scattered along the shores of Lake Heron, Lake Erie, and the Georgian Bay. You can see these trees growing along roadsides and in abandoned fields. Eastern red cedars prefer well-draining, loamy, sandy, or rocky soils that are dry to average in moisture. These trees are a good species for hedges and windbreaks, as they can survive on tough, dry soils where little else is able to grow. Eastern red cedars are low maintenance, rarely needing to be pruned, though they can be sheared into topiary if desired. The berry-like cones that these trees produce are an important food source for songbirds and gamebirds and its foliage provides them shelter. Birds are the main source behind eastern red cedar seed dispersal. This is why it is common to find small clusters of these trees along popular migratory routes. 

Aromatic oils can be obtained from the heartwood of eastern red cedars. It is used in perfumes and as a repellant against clothing moths, house ants, and termites. The extracts can also be used to inhibit the growth of fungi and bacteria. Wood from the eastern red cedar is valuable in making clothing chests due to its moth repelling ability. Other uses for the wood include fenceposts, poles, boats, paneling, and lumber. Wood from these trees was even a main source for wooden pencils in the past. The berries of eastern red cedar can be picked when ripe, indicated by a dark purple or blue colour. They can be eaten fresh or dried and can be used to flavour soups, meat, baking, etc. 


Highbush cranberry

South Nation Consevration. Tree Maintenance and Care: Highbush Cranberry. [online] Available: https://www.nation.on.ca/sites/default/files/Highbush%20Cranberry.pdf

University of Minnesota, The UFOR Nursery & Lab. HIGHBUSH CRANBERRY. [online] Available: https://trees.umn.edu/highbush-cranberry-viburnum-opulus

Black elderberry

OMNR. 2022. Growing elderberries from home gardens. [online] Available: https://www.ontario.ca/page/growing-elderberries-home-gardens#section-7


North Caroline Sate University, Extension Gardener Toolbox. Sambucus nigra. [online] Available: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/sambucus-nigra/


OMNR, 2022. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources: Ontario Tree Atlas. [online] Available: https://www.ontario.ca/page/pawpaw 

University of Guelph. The Arboretum: Pawpaw - Asimina triloba. [online] Available: https://arboretum.uoguelph.ca/thingstosee/trees/pawpaw

Saskatoon serviceberry

Bressette, D. 2016. Saskatoon Serviceberry, Amelanchier alnifolia. Native Plants PNW. [online] Available: https://nativeplantspnw.com/saskatoon-serviceberry-amelanchier-alnifolia

Government of British Columbia. Saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia). [online] Available: https://www.for.gov.bc.ca/rsi/fnb/saskatoon.pdf

OMNR, 2022. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources: Ontario Tree Atlas. [online] Available: https://www.ontario.ca/page/serviceberries

The Morton Arboretum. 2023. Saskatoon serviceberry. [online] Available: https://mortonarb.org/plant-and-protect/trees-and-plants/saskatoon-serviceberry/#more-information 


The Morton Arboretum. 2023. Nannyberry. [online] Available: https://mortonarb.org/plant-and-protect/trees-and-plants/nannyberry/#more-information

South Nation Consevration. Tree Maintenance and Care: Nannyberry. [online] Available: https://www.nation.on.ca/sites/default/files/Nannyberry.pdf

University of Minnesota, The UFOR Nursery & Lab. NANNYBERRY - VIBURNUM LENTAGO. [online] Available: https://trees.umn.edu/nannyberry-viburnum-lentago

Black chokeberry

North Carolina State University, Extension Gardener Toolbox. Aronia melanocarpa. [online] Available: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/aronia-melanocarpa

University of Maine, Cooperative Extension: Agriculture. Plant Description and Habitat of Aronia (black chokeberry). [online] Available: https://extension.umaine.edu/agriculture/aronia/plant-description-and-habitat

University of Minnesota, The UFOR Nursery & Lab. BLACK CHOKEBERRY-ARONIA MELANOCARPA. [online] Available: https://trees.umn.edu/black-chokeberry-aronia-melanocarpa

The Morton Arboretum. 2023. Black Chokeberry. [online] Available: https://mortonarb.org/plant-and-protect/trees-and-plants/black-chokeberry/#more-information


OMNR, 2022. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources: Ontario Tree Atlas. [online] Available: https://www.ontario.ca/ page/chokecherry

University of Guelph. The Arboretum: Choke Cherry - Prunus virginiana. [online] Available: https://arboretum.uoguelph.ca/thingstosee/trees/chokecherry

Crowder, W., Broyles, P. 2003. CHOKECHERRY. USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service. [online] Available: https://www.nrcs.usda.gov/plantmaterials/kspmcpg5596.pdf 

Staghorn sumac

   The Morton Arboretum. 2023. Staghorn Sumac. [online] Available: https://mortonarb.org/plant-and-protect/trees-and-plants/staghorn-sumac/#overview

Taylor, D. Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina). USDA Forest Service. [online] Available: https://www.fs.usda.gov/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/rhus_typhina.shtml

University of Guelph. The Arboretum: Stgahorn sumac - Rhus typhina. [online] Available: https://arboretum.uoguelph.ca/thingstosee/trees/staghornsumac

Wallace, R. STAGHORN SUMAC. Towson University, Glen Arboretum. [online] Available: https://wp.towson.edu/glenarboretum/home/staghorn-sumac/

Swamp rose

North Carolina State University, Extension Gardener Toolbox. Rosa palustris. [online] Available: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/rosa-palustris/

Northern Ontario Plant Database. 2023. Rosa palustris Marshall. [online] Available: http://northernontarioflora.ca/description.cfm?speciesid=1003116

Stritch, L. Swamp Rose (Rosa palustris Marsh). USDA, Forest Service. [online] Available: https://www.fs.usda.gov/wildflowers/plant-of-the-week/rosa_palustris.shtml

Common redbud

Dickson, J. 2022. Cercis canadensis L. Eastern Redbud. VirginiaTech Dendrology. [online] Available: https://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology/USDAFSSilvics/43.pdf

Missouri Botanical Garden. 2023. Cercis canadensis. [online] Available: https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/

Robertson, K. 1976. Cercis: The redbuds. Arnoldia, 36(2): 37–49.

The Morton Arboretum. 2023. Redbud. [online] Available: https://mortonarb.org/plant-and-protect/trees-and-plants/redbud/#more-information

Wild plum

Stevens, M., Kaiser, J. 2003. WILD PLUM. USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service. [online] Available: http://gulfcoastswcd.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/PG-American-Plum.pdf

The Morten Arboretum. 2023. Wild plum. [online] Available: https://mortonarb.org/plant-and-protect/trees-and-plants/wild-plum/#overview

University of Guelph. The Arboretum: Wild Plum - Prunus americana. [online] Available: https://arboretum.uoguelph.ca/thingstosee/trees/wildplum 

Black cherry

CasaBio. 2022. Species Prunus serotina. [online] Available: https://casabio.org/taxa/prunus-serotina

OMNR, 2022. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources: Ontario Tree Atlas. [online] Available: https://www.ontario.ca/page/black-cherry

OMNR. Ontario's Tree Atlas. [online] Available: https://pecmastergardeners.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/Ontarios-Tree-Atlas.pdf

University of Guelph. The Arboretum: Black Cherry - Prunus serotina. [online] Available: https://arboretum.uoguelph.ca/thingstosee/trees/blackcherry

Northern hackberry 

OMNR, 2022. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources: Ontario Tree Atlas. [online] Available: https://www.ontario.ca/page/northern-hackberry

Prosser, R. 2023. COMMON HACKBERRY. Twoson University, Glen Arboretum. [online] Available: https://wp.towson.edu/glenarboretum/home/common-hackberry/

The Morten Arboretum. 2023. Hackberry. [online] Available: https://mortonarb.org/plant-and-protect/trees-and-plants/hackberry/#more-information

University of Guelph. The Arboretum: American Hackberry - Celtis occidentalis. [online] Available: https://arboretum.uoguelph.ca/thingstosee/trees/americanhackberry

American hazelnut

Nesom, G. 2007. AMERICAN HAZELNUT. USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service. [online] Available: https://plants.usda.gov/DocumentLibrary/plantguide/pdf/pg_coam3.pdf

North Carolina State University, Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. Corylus americana. [online] Available: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/corylus-americana/

The Morten Arboretum. 2023. American hazelnut. [online] Available: https://mortonarb.org/plant-and-protect/trees-and-plants/american-hazelnut/#more-information

Beaked hazelnut

Armstrong, C., Dixon, M., Turner, N. 2018. Management and Traditional Production of Beaked Hazelnut
(k'áp'xw-az', Corylus cornuta; Betulaceae) in British Columbia. Human Ecology. 46, 547–559

Nesom, G. 2006. BEAKED HAZELNUT. USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service. [online] Available: https://sipnuuk.karuk.us/system/files/atoms/file/AFRIFoodSecurity_UCB_FrankLake_003_003.pdf

North Carolina State University, Extension Gardener Plant Toolbox. Corylus cornuta. [online] Available: https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/corylus-cornuta/


Indiana Nature LLC. 2023. Juglans cinerea - Butternut. [online] Available: https://www.indiananature.net/pages/taxa/Plantae/j/Juglans_cinerea.php

OFAH/OMNRF Invading Species Awareness Program. 2021. Butternut Canker. [online] Available: https://www.invadingspecies.com/invaders/forest/butternut-canker/

OMNR, 2022. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources: Ontario Tree Atlas. [online] Available: https://www.ontario.ca/page/butternut

OMNR. 2021. Butternut Canker. [online] Available: https://www.ontario.ca/page/butternut-canker

University of Guelph. The Arboretum: Butternut (Juglans cinerea). [online] Available: https://arboretum.uoguelph.ca/thingstosee/trees/butternut

Black walnut 

Indiana Nature LLC. 2023. Juglans cinerea - Butternut. [online] Available: https://www.indiananature.net/pages/taxa/Plantae/j/Juglans_cinerea.php

OMNR, 2022. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources: Ontario Tree Atlas. [online] Available: https://www.ontario.ca/page/black-walnut

University of Guelph. Guelph Arboretum: Black walnut - Juglans nigra. [online] Available: https://arboretum.uoguelph.ca/thingstosee/trees/blackwalnut

USDA. SPECIES: Juglans nigra. Fire Effects Information System (FEIS). [online] Available: https://www.fs.usda.gov/database/feis/plants/tree/jugnig/all.html

White oak

OMNR, 2022. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources: Ontario Tree Atlas. [online] Available: https://www.ontario.ca/page/white-oak

University of Guelph. Guelph Arboretum: White oak - Quercus alba. [online] Available: https://arboretum.uoguelph.ca/thingstosee/trees/whiteoak

The Morten Arboretum. 2023. White oak. [online] Available: https://mortonarb.org/plant-and-protect/trees-and-plants/white-oak/#overview

Red cedar

McCann, E. EASTERN RED CEDAR. Twoson University, Glen Arboretum. [online] Available: https://wp.towson.edu/glenarboretum/home/eastern-red-cedar/

OMNR, 2022. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources: Ontario Tree Atlas. [online] Available: https://www.ontario.ca/page/eastern-redcedar

The Morten Arboretum. 2023. Eastern Red Cedar. [online] Available: https://mortonarb.org/plant-and-protect/trees-and-plants/eastern-red-cedar/

University of Guelph. Guelph Arboretum: Eastern Red Cedar - Juniper virginiana. [online] Available: https://arboretum.uoguelph.ca/thingstosee/trees/easternredcedar