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Native Fruits for the Edible Landscape

While something may be “as American as apple pie,” the apple itself is not a native American fruit. For native fruits, plant these trees, shrubs and vines in your garden. Bonus: most can’t be found in the average supermarket!

native fruits pawpaw

The Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)
The pawpaw is the largest of North America's edible native fruits, weighing up to one pound. It grows from a small, pyramidal tree that’s native to bottomland forests throughout roughly the eastern half of the United States and southern Canada. Pawpaw flavor varies, but there are some cultivars with reliably tasty fruit: ‘Potomac’, ‘Rebecca’s Gold’ and ‘Sunflower’ among them.

The American Persimmon (Diospyros kaki)
Asian persimmons possess a bright beauty when ripe, and in comparison American persimmons are downright ugly, looking rotten when ripe. American persimmons have a richer flavor at the right of ripeness, though, and a silky texture. These native fruits grow from a large tree from the same regions as the pawpaw, but they are adaptable to climates across North America. Popular cultivars include ‘Meader’, ‘Killen’ and ‘Wabash’.

Muscadine Grapes (Vitis rotundifolia)
These grapes grow wild across the South; they are the southern version of the Concord-type, slip-skin grapes of New England and the Great Lakes. These North American grapes have a leathery, sour skin from which their sweet fruit must be popped, which is one reason why they aren’t as commercially successful as European species. ‘Ison’, ‘Tara’ and ‘Fry’ are popular as back-yard Muscadine varieties, and they are tough enough to grow outside of the South.

Image: Pawpaw. Credit: Moazzam Ali Brohi / Moment Open / Getty Images