Here in the Pacific Northwest, we can grow a wonderful variety of small fruit and berries. Here is a list of some of my favorite small fruits that I am testing at various sites across the gulf islands. These fresh fruits can be wonderful additions to your homestead or the understory layer in your permaculture food forest. The berries are listed alphabetically. Information on hardiness, requirements for sun and water as well as bloom and harvest time are sourced from the book Extraordinary Ornamental Edibles by Mike Lascelle. For more information on Perennial trees shrubs and vines for Canadian gardens, I highly recommend purchasing Mike’s book. A big thank you to all the nurseries for the images.
Aronia Melanocarpa is also known as Aronia berry or chokeberry. This deciduous shrub makes pea-sized berries that resemble black currants, which are used in smoothies and juice mixes. The berries are higher in antioxidants than blueberries and are very tart. The plant is harvested from late August to early September. It requires part to full sun to produce berries and is hardy to USDA zone 4. It grows to 4-6ft tall by 6-8ft wide. Improved Cultivars include Viking & Nero.
Berberis darwinii or Barberry is an evergreen shrub native to Argentina and Chile that is hardy to USDA zone 6. It requires part to full sun to fruit and requires little water. It is drought tolerant once established. It grows 5-8 high and wide. The best thing about this bush is that it is deer resistant and can be planted outside the fence. This is a great pick to help provide habitat and food for birds The ripe berries taste acidic similar to Oregon grape. It makes a good jam when mixed with sweeter fruit. There is a golden barberry Berberis Stenophylla as well as several dwarf varieties available.
highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) is an excellent fruit. The highbush blueberries are deciduous shrubs native to North America and require part to full sun to fruit. They are hardy to USDA Zone 2 for lowbush blueberry and hardy to USDA zone for highbush blueberries. They grow 5-7ft tall by 5ft wide. They require consistent soil moisture and good drainage. I see these growing well in the Pacific Northwest in wet flood plains and peat bog soils. They bloom in late spring and early summer and are harvested July through September. These are partially self-fertile but have much bigger yields with cross-pollination – This means plant a couple of different varieties! Great varieties include Bluecrop, Duke, Chandler, Reka, and Elliot.
Ugni Molinae or Chilean Guava is a native of South America and is an evergreen shrub hardy to USDA zone 8. It requires part to full sun to fruit. It needs consistent soil moisture with good drainage. It can grow up to 5-6ft tall by 3ft wide. It blooms in late spring and berries are harvested late August to October. The drawback is that these are hardy to zone 8 so require a greenhouse or cold frame. I personally haven`t tasted the fruit yet, but I`m told it’s a mix of strawberry and guava.
White, Red & Black Currants
Ribes Nigrum is blackcurrant. Ribes Rubrum is the pink currant, red currant, white currant. They are deciduous shrubs They are hardy to USDA zone 3. They require part to full sun to fruit and consistent soil moisture with good drainage. I`ve seen currants fruit in part shade. They bloom in April through May and are harvested in mid to late summer. I prefer the flavor of the white and pink champagne currants for fresh eating. The black and red currants are best for jams and processing in my opinion. Great varieties of currants include Pink Champagne, White Imperial, Ben Sarek and Red Lake.
Vaccinium Macropcarpon or cranberry is an evergreen shrub native to eastern north America. It is hardy to USDA zone 2 and requires full sun and moist to wet soil. It grows to 6 inches tall by 3-4 ft wide. It blooms in late spring to summer and is harvested in late autumn. It has a sharp, acidic flavour. This plant provides food for wild bumblebees and is a good choice for full sun locations that have wet soil year round.
European Elderberry (Sambucus Nigra)
and American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) are deciduous shrubs that are hardy to USDA zone 3-4 and grow to 7-15ft tall and wide. It requires part to full sun and consistent soil moisture. I`ve seen elderberries growing amazingly in wet, rich soil with full to part sun. Cross-pollination increases yield so plant a couple of varieties. Good cultivars of American Elders are Nova, York. A good variety of S Canadensis is Korsor.
Goji Berry (Lycium Barbarum) is a decidious shrub native to CHina. Goji berry is hardy to USDA zone 5 and requires full sun to fruit. It needs even soil moisture, good drainage. It will grow in drought conditions, but will not fruit as abundantly. Goji berries can reach 7-10ft tall by 5-7ft wide. Goji blooms June through august and the red berries can be harvested midsummer to late fall. Some good goji berry cultivars include Crimson Star, Sweet Lifeberry, and Big Lifeberry. Dried goji berries are a popular superfood and are filled with antioxidants and vitamin C, B1, B2, B6, E. The fresh berries have a light tomato and cherry flavour.
Goumi Berry (Eleagnus Multiflora) is a deciduous fruiting shrub with origins in China, Korea and Japan. Goumi is hardy to USDA zone 5 and requires part to full sun to fruit. It requires moderate water with good drainage, however, I’ve seen it growing well without irrigation. It grows to up to 6-10 ft high and wide. It blooms in spring and can be harvested midsummer. Goumi berry supports native pollinators and is a nitrogen-fixing shrub that helps improve the soil. Some improved varieties include Monez as well as Red Gem and Sweet Scarlett which are cultivars from Ukraine. It has a tart flavor and should be harvested fully ripe. The berries make a great fruit leather or jam
Gooseberry & Jostaberry
Gooseberry (Ribes uva-crispa) is a deciduous shrub native to Europe and North Africa. It is hardy to USDA zone 3-4. Gooseberry requires part to full sun to fruit. It requres average soil moisture with good drainage. Gooseberry grows to 3-6 feet high and wide. Berry colors range from green, red yellow and purple. Most bushes are very thorny. Great cultivars for our climate include Hinnonmaki, Hinnonmaki red, Captivator, and Invicta. Jostaberry (Ribes x nidigrolaria) is a blackcurrant gooseberry hybrid that is thornless and provides a black fruit that grows easily.
Haskap (Lonicera Caerulea) also known as blue honesuckle or honeyberry is a decidious shrub developed recently in Canada. It is very hardy to USDA zone 2 and requires part to full sun to fruit. It requires consistent soil moisture with good drainage. It grows to 3-5ft tall by 3-4ft wide. Bloom March to early May and is harvested June to mid-July. This tastes like a sharp blackcurrant and is best in smoothies or fruit leather. Japanese Haskaps (Lonicera caerulea var. emphyllocalyx) grow well in our Coastal regions. Great varieties are Boreal Blizzard, Boreal Beauty, Blue moon, Blue Hokkaido, Sugar Pie and Yezberry Solo.
Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum Opulus) also called European Granberry as well as American Cranberry (Viburnum Trilobum) are a decidious shrubs hardy to USDA zone 3. It is not a true Cranberry but is in the Viburnum family. It requires part to full sun to fruit and requires consistent soil moisture. It tolerates wet soils. Highbush cranberry grows to 12-16 ft tall by 10-13 feet wide. It blooms late spring and is harvested after a light frost. It is a great choice to support birds and local wildlife. Tart flavor. One variety is Kalinka from Ukraine.
Red Huckleberry & Evergreen Huckleberry
Red Huckleberry (Vaccinium Ovatum) is a decidious shrub and Evergreen Huckleberry (Vaccinium Ovatum) is an evergreen shrub native to the West Coast of North America. It is hardy to USDA zone 7 (vaccinium ovatum) and zone 6(V. parvifolium) and requires open shade to full sun. They requires consistent soil moisture with good drainage. I see them growing on old growth stumps in Cedar and Coastal Doug Fir. They are somewhat deer tolerant and the berries provide food for birds, wildlife, as well as nectar for hummingbirds and wild bees. They bloom in Spring and can be harvested Mid to late summer.
Japanese Silverberry / Autumn Olive
Japanese Silverberry (Eleagnus Umbellata) also known as Autumn olive has origins in China, Himalayas, and Japan. They are closely related to Goumi berry. They are Deciduous shrubs hardy to USDA zone 3 and require part to full sun to fruit. They require average moisture and are drought tolerant once established. They are 10-16ft high and wide. They bloom late spring to early summer and are harvested late summer to fall. The Autumn Olive is opportunistic and is a nitrogen fixer that improves the soil. Improved varieties include Ruby, Amber which is yellow, Cardina, Superhero, and Titan.
Fuzzy Kiwi (Actinidia deliciosa) is a deciduous vine that is native to China and East Asia. The large-fruited fuzzy kiwi is hardy to USDA zone 7. It requires part to full sun to fruit. It needs consistent soil moisture when the fruit is forming and good drainage. It grows as a large, heavy vine from 16-26 feet tall. It requires a good support trellis or arbor. Male and female plants are required for fruit. one Self-fertile variety is Jenny, but fruits are larger with cross-pollination. They bloom in late spring to early summer and are ready to harvest late fall. They are sweeter when hit by a light frost. Great varieties include Hayward & Saanichton,
Hardy Kiwi and Arctic Kiwi
There is the Hardy Kiwi (A. Arguta) and the Grape Kiwi or Super hardy Arctic Kiwi (A. Kolomikta). The Arctic and super hardy kiwi are hardy to zone 3(A. Arguta) and zone 4 (A. Kolomikta). They require part to full sun and consistent soil moisture. They grow 20-30 ft tall for A. arguta and 13-24ft tall for A. Kolomikta. They produce small grape-sized kiwi with hints of tropical flavors. They bloom in late spring to early summer and are ready to harvest from late summer to fall. Great varieties of Hardy Kiwi include Issai, Anna, Kens, Hardy Red. Great varieties of Arctic Kiwi are Victor & Sun Arctic.
Lingonberry (Vaccinium vitus-idaea) is an evergreen shrub native to Japan and the northern hemisphere. It is hardy to USDA zone 2 and requires part to full sun to fruit. It needs consistent soil moisture with good drainage. It is a small groundcover that grows 10-15 inches tall by 18+ inches wide. It blooms in spring and midsummer and is harvested after a hard frost. It tastes like a tart cranberry. This grows best in acidic organic soils and is a good groundcover under Red Huckleberry. One great variety of lingonberry is Koralle. This superfood is often used in juices and as a dried tart berry. Sweetens up after a frost.
Maypop (passiflora Incarnata) is North America’s native Passionfruit. Maypop is a herbaceous vine native to the southeast US and is hardy to USDA zone 6. In Canada, it dies back to the ground with heavy frots and sprouts up again in the spring. It requires part to full sun to fruit, excellent drainage, and consistent soil moisture. It needs trellis support and it is recommended to overwinter it in a greenhouse or protected area. . Other varieties include the blue crown passionflower Passiflora caerulea hardy to zone 7 . Fruit is bland but flowers are beautiful and they smells great!
Mulberry is also known as White Mulberry (Morus Alba) Black Mulberry (M. Nigra) and Red Mulberry (M. Rubra). They are deciduous trees native to china(M Alba) Southwest Asia(M. Nigra) and Canada and Eastern US (M. Rubra). They are hardy to Zone 4 (Morus Alba) to Zone 5 (M. Nigra & M. Rubra). They require part to full sun to fruit and consistent soil moisture with good drainage. They can get 16-40 ft tall by 16-50 ft wide. They bloom in mid-spring and can be harvested mid to late summer. The edible berries are delicious and are great both fresh and dried. Some great varieties include Black Beauty, Pakistan, Illinois Everbearing, Hunza, and Tatarica. Highly recommended.
Nanking cherry (Prunus Tomentosa) also known as Chinese bush cherry or Manchu cherry is a decidious shrub with native to China and Japan. Nanking Cherry is hardy to USDA zone 2 and requires part to full sun and average moisture. It is drought tolerant once established. It grows to 6-8ft wide and high. It blooms in early spring and cross-pollination is recommended. This is hard to find and is reported to do better in interior and northern climates than it does in coastal BC. Worth considering for those in cold, dry, and alpine locations.
Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium) also known as Oregon grape holly is an evergreen shrub native to western North America. It is hardy to USDA zone 6 and requires shade to full sun as well as consistent soil moisture with good drainage. Oregon grape is drought tolerant once established, it is deer tolerant, and is the natural native groundcover in dry arbutus forests. It grows to 4-8ft tall by 3-5ft wide. It blooms in early to mid spring and is self fertile. There is also smaller native species of Oregon Grape including Longleaf oregon grape (mahonia nervosa) and Creeping Oregon Grape (Mahonia Aquifolium). It is an excellent plant for wildlife and birds. It is a tart berry packed with medicinal constituents that is excellent for jams.
Paw Paw (Asimina Triloba) also known as Michigan Mango is in the Annonaceae family and is a relative of the tropical Cherimoya, Soursop, and Mountain Apple. It is the closest thing to a Mango we can grow in the Pacific Northwest. It is a deciduous tree native to eastern North America. It is hardy to USDA zone 6 and requires part to full sun to fruit. It needs consistent soil moisture with goo drainage. It gets to 15-20 ft high and wide so could be considered an understory tree. It blooms April to May and requires cross-pollination to fruit, so you need multiple trees. The flavors range from pineapple, banana, and mango with improved varieties being much better in fruit size and flavour. some recommended cultivars include Shenandoah Sunflower, Pennsylvania Golden, Susquehanna, and Prolific. Rare to find and challenging to grow.
Physalis(Physalis Peruviana) is also known as Peruvian groundcherry, cape gooseberry, and Inca Berry. It is related to the Tomatillo (Physalis Ixocarpa). It is a Tender Perennial with origins in South America. It is hardy to USDA zone 8, and is considered a frost-tender annual which can self-seed. It requires part to full sun to fruit. and consistent soil moisture with good drainage. It gets 24-48 inches high by 24-40 inches wide. It blooms late spring to mid-summer and is harvested late summer to fall. It is sweet and tart with citrus overtones. Unripe berries are toxic so wait ubntil they are fully ripe.
Raspberry (Rubus idaeus) includes the Euriopean red raspberry (Rubus idaeus var. idaeus) and American Red Raspberry Rubus idaeus var strigosus) They are deciduous woody perennial canes or vines that have origins in Europe, Asia (European red raspberry) as well as North America (American Red Raspberry). They are Hardy to USDA zone 3-4, require full sun, and consistent soil moisture with good drainage. They get 3-5 tall by 2ft wide and spread by underground runners. They are self-fertile. There is summer bearing varieties ready early to midsummer, and Everbearing varieties ready summer to fall. Good cultivars include Fall Goold (yellow) and Tulammeen, Heritage, Boyne, Meeker, Autumn Bliss, Joan J. Easy to grow and productive.
Romance Series Bush Cherry
The Romance Series Bush cherry is a relatively recent release from the University of Saskatchewan which bred a Sour Cherry (Prunus Cerasus) with Mongolian Cherry (Prunus Fruticosa). It has a much sweeter taste than the conventional sour cherry. It is a deciduousTree with Hardiness of USDA zone 2 and requires full sun to fruit. It needs consistent soil moisture with Good drainage. It is a bush cherry that gets 6-8ft tall. It blooms in Spring and requires a cross-pollinator. Excellent varieties include Carmine Jewel, Romea, Juliet, Cupid, and Crimson Passion.
Saskatoon (amelanchier alnifolia) is also known as serviceberry or shadbush is a deciduous shrub from North America. It is cold hardy to USDA zone 2 and requires part to full sun and consistent soil moisture with good drainage. It grows to 7-22b feet tall by 5-10ft wide. It blooms in early spring and is self-fertile. It has the flavour of a wild blueberry with cherry or vanilla undertones. It is harvested early to midsummer. A few improved cultivars include SMokey, Thiessen Honeywood, Northline. A few other related species are Serviceberry (Amelanchier Arborea), Juneberry (A. Canadensis), and apple serviceberry (a. grandiflora)
Sea buckthorn (Hippophae Rhamnoides) also known as Seaberry is a thorny deciduous shrub native to Europe and Asia. It is very cold hardy to USDA zone 4 and requires full sun. It needs consistent soil moisture with good drainage. It grows to 7-12 feet tall and wide. It blooms in Spring and requires both male and female plants close by as it is wind-pollinated. This plant is hard to find medicinal powerhouse packed with Vitamin C and Omega Fatty Acids. It also fixes nitrogen, can improve degraded sandy soils, and act as a support species to long-term overstory nut trees. Improved varieties include Titan, Klims Prize, Amber Dawn, Orange Glow, Leikora, Askola, Hergo, and Baikal.
Arbutus Unedo is also known as Strawberry Tree. This is a great evergreen shrub with edible red berries. It blooms from October to early December and can be grown in difficult locations, as well as along the oceanside. The under-ripe fruits can cause nausea if ingested underripe, so pick ripe fruits! Its Origins are southeast Europe, Ireland, and Asia. It requires Part to full sun and is Hardy to USDA zone 7. it can grow to 8-15ft tall and is drought tolerant once established.
Tayberry + Vining Cane Fruit
Tayberry R fruticosus x idaeus is a vining perennial that requires full sun to fruit. It is hardy to USDA zone 6 and requires low soil moisture with good drainage. They get up to 7 feet high and are best when trained against a fence or trellis. They are raspberry crosses that are easy to grow and make a lot of delicious fruit. They can be eaten fresh, frozen, or made into juice and smoothies. This is an excellent hardy perennial for the edge and vine layer in your food forest. A few improved varieties of blackberry raspberry crosses include the Tayberry, Loganberry Youngberry, Boysenberry, and Marionberry. Want a perennial vining berry with fewer thorns? If so, consider thornless blackberries such as Black Satin, Navaho, and Loch Ness
Thanks for reading our page on the Best Berry bushes and vines for food forests in the Pacific Northwest. I would also recommend looking at the Plants for the Groundcover Layer as well as the page on the Plants for the Herbaceous Layer.