NOVA Natives can be beautiful and edible at the same time. Numerous native plants provide delicious fruit and berries, nuts, herbal teas, and gourmet entries while offering easy care, seasonal color, and wildlife benefits
- Serviceberries and Highbush Blueberries provide spring flowers and fall colors rivaling any non-native ornamentals. Make wine from homegrown Elderberries (but leave some for the 48 species of birds that feed on them) or try wild strawberries as a tasty ground cover in dry, sunny locations that will also attract beneficial predatory insects, keeping damaging pest at bay.
- Edible understory trees include the Pawpaw—only available in your yard or natural areas, never in stores– American Persimmon and American Plum will provide bountiful harvests with less fuss than cultivated fruit trees. For nut lovers, native trees include American Hazelnut and Shagbark Hickory. Black walnut is another option but be careful what you plant it near as it can stunt growth of nearby plants.
- Need a vine to decorate a trellis, give Passion Fruit try – it has beautiful, long-lasting flowers that produce a large fleshy fruit in the fall.
- Try making herbal teas from the NOVA natives in your yard. Leaves from the New Jersey Tea, an easy to grow shrub with showy, fragrant flowers were used as a tea substitute during the Revolutionary War. Wintergreen, Wild bergamot, and Beebalm can also be used for herbal teas. Most of these plants have had medicinal uses as well. Beebalm for example was used by Native Americans to treat mouth and throat infections caused by cavities and gingivitis.
- For gourmet treats in the springtime, wild leeks (or ramps) have a onion-garlic flavor and can be eaten in salads or added to soups. The fiddleheads from Ostrich ferns can be boiled or steamed and are said to have a taste between asparagus and spinach. Both have become popular in gourmet restaurants in recent years.