How do you spell tasty summertime treat? B E R R Y!
Juicy, sweet berries are highly perishable and are often a luxury item at the grocery store. Grow berries in your home garden instead, for a delicious summer treat that’s packed with vitamins, fiber, and cancer-fighting antioxidants.
Do your research before eating any berry you are not familiar with, as some are toxic.
Which Fruits Are Berries?
When classifying fruits into the berry family, the distinctions can be blurred.
You might have questions. Are bananas berries? Surely a strawberry is a berry?
If we look at the botanical definition, a berry is:
“A fleshy fruit without a stone (pit) produced from a single flower containing one ovary.” – Source: Wikipedia
This is because they develop from a single flower with more than one ovary. And this makes them an aggregate fruit.
But generally, most of us consider a berry to be any small, bright-colored, edible fruit without a stone or pit.
Thinking of growing berries in your garden? Check out the helpful tips in the video below.
The list is long and it doesn’t end with strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.
Berries are known for their health benefits. Many of them are considered superfoods. They’re packed with antioxidants that help boost the immune system and even prevent cancer.
Buckle up! Here’s our list of types of berries.
They are inedible in their whole form, so people usually consume them in the form of powder. The fact that they’re difficult to source outside the native region adds to steep prices.
Native to Texas. Edible and used to make jelly. Attracts birds and mammals. Also known as agarito, algerita, agritos, currant-of-Texas, wild currant, chaparral berry.
Agarita berries are difficult to harvest because of their thorny, five-pronged leaves. They’re toothsome in tarts, cobblers, and juices.
Also known as Amalika or Indian Gooseberry. Those sour tasting and fibrous berries are native to India. They grow on small to medium-sized trees and have many health benefits.
Baneberries are small, hard red or white berries. You can find them in subtropical and temperate regions of North America.
Cardiogenic toxins the berries contain can cause cardiac arrest and death.
The Barbados cherry is a small shrub that grows in the Caribbean and parts of Central and South America. It is not at all cold hardy, suffering damage when temperatures dip below 30 degrees F.
The fruits are bright red, cherry-like, very juicy, and have a sweet-and-sour taste.
Barberry shrubs are good as landscape plants. Birds love the small, red fruits. They’re too sour to enjoy fresh but are palatable when cooked with sugar.
With over 400 different species, the berries come in a range of colors (black, purple, white, and yellow). Also, the tart taste will be more or prominent in some varieties than others.
Barberries are often used as dried berries.
Found in arctic and subarctic zones around the world, the bearberry produces red berries enjoyed by bears and humans alike. Native people gather the leaves of bearberry plants and use them as folk medicine.
The purported health benefits of bearberries are manifold. They provide relief from rheumatoid arthritis, gout, back pain, headaches, and kidney stones.
They can be grown throughout the US.
Similar to blueberries, these flavorful berries grow wild throughout northern Europe. They are highly perishable and don’t transport well, but can be purchased in powder form. Europeans pick the wild berries for fresh eating, jams, and baked goods.
Bilberry is an old cultivated form of blueberry. It produces poor yields when grown so it’s most often harvested in the wild.
These bright orange berries grow on long trailing vines throughout New England. The berries aren’t edible, they’re toxic and very bitter, hence their name.
These types of berries are native to Europe and Asia but have been naturalized in North America. They’ve become a common and persistent garden weed.
Blackberries grow wild throughout the Pacific Northwest and the South. These plants prefer moist, fertile soil and mild winters.
Studies have found that blackberries protect against LDL-oxidation, a prominent cardiovascular risk factor.
They abound in polyphenol compounds that lower stress levels and high blood pressure.
New varieties of blackberries are more cold hardy. Yet if you live north of USDA plant hardiness zone 6 you’ll have a better shot with raspberries.
Use the USDA’s interactive map to determine the hardiness zone for your area.
Sweet, juicy blueberries are used for fresh eating, or in sauces and baked goods. Unfortunately, blueberries require acidic soil with a pH between 4.5 and 5.5. If you have alkaline soil, you will need to amend it or grow your blueberries in containers.
You may confuse saskatoon berries with blueberries, as they look similar. One way to tell one from the other is to know that saskatoon berries are softer and more reddish in color.
The black mulberry grows only in warm climates, south of zone 7, but is a favorite fruit among Southern cooks. In a myth of Pyramus and Thisbē, Gods taint the berries red after the lovers’ murder under the mulberry tree.
Substitute them for blackberries in pies and jams.
Boysenberries are developed in the 1920s by crossing raspberries, blackberries, and loganberries. Walter Knott grew the berries at his farm and his wife made the sweet fruit into preserves. Knott’s Berry Farm became famous and the rest is history.
Like blackberries, boysenberries prefer sandy loam soil and plenty of sunshine.
Buffalo berry grows wild throughout the Great Plains region. The plant produces large, red fruit suitable for eating dried or in baked goods. If one eats them raw, however, they can cause diarrhea.
The berries grow lush bushes and are resilient plants that can thrive in marginal soils.
Bunchberry trees produce red clusters of fruit in northern regions of North America. These fruits are bland tasting and better left for the birds.
The berry contains high levels of mucilage which made it a perfect natural jam thickener.
Caperberry is a perennial plant with fleshy leaves and white to pinkish flowers. The caper is the flower bud, and the caperberry is the fruit.
The berries were used in ancient times for medical purposes as well as an aphrodisiac.
Chokeberry shrubs are often used as landscape plants because they do well in the shade. The fruit is acerbic but makes good wine and preserves.
The chokecherry grows wild throughout many parts of the west but can be homegrown as well. Use this tart fruit in jams and syrups.
This tree or shrub grows throughout the coldest regions of North America and can thrive in harsh conditions of the Arctic Circle. It produces yellow, bland fruit.
Cloudberries can be found in Canada and some parts of Maine. Yet, these types of berries are a staple for Scandinavian foragers.
Cowberries grow wild throughout northern Europe and Canada. They produce tart red fruit, like cranberries, and are used in baked goods and preserves.
Cooks appreciate cranberries for their tart, astringent flavor. This is both inside and outside the Thanksgiving occasion. They are wetland fruits that prefer acidic soil, and a long growing season.
One of the most common uses of cranberry is in the form of cranberry juice. The juice helps reduce plaque build-up in your arteries and helps with weight loss.
Currants thrive in regions with cool, moist conditions. The small, round fruits may be translucent white, red, or purple and have a rich, tart flavor.
Plant your currants at least three feet apart and maintain them with regular pruning. Read more on how to grow currents.
Black wild berries that grow on long, creeping vines. These plants grow prolifically throughout the Pacific Northwest.
They have a slightly bitter taste. Eat them fresh or use them in jams and baked goods.
Similar to currants, elderberries are dark red to purple and make fine wine and preserves. Grow this plant in cool, moist regions with cold winters. Many health benefits are attributed to elderberries, but they’re most popular as an ingredient in immune-boosting tonics.
They ripen in early to mid-September in the northeast. The West Coasters however can harvest them as early as June.
A relative of blueberries, farkleberry grows wild throughout the Midwest. The black berries are relatively tasteless, although birds and wildlife enjoy them.
Similar to common blackberry, but the fruit is larger and sweeter. It grows across many different wild habitats but is also cultivated in the gardens.
The berry is also used to produce the hybrid marionberry cultivar.
Bright red goji berries are native to China and the Himalayas. They have been heralded as a superfood, high in antioxidants. They’re rich in phenolic compounds which protect against oxidative stress.
Fresh goji berries are hard to come by since they’re rarely commercially cultivated in the U.S. So, home growing is a good alternative to have your own fresh goji berries.
Goji berry can tolerate drought, extreme heat and cold, and poor soils.
This thorny plant produces tart, green berries used in pies and preserves. Gooseberries thrive in cool areas and prefer rich, moist soils. That said, they’re often found along the paths of woodland hiking trails.
Gooseberries have acidic taste when green but develop a rich, smooth flavor as they ripen. They resemble currents but people often prefer gooseberries in pies or jams.
Grapes are botanically classified as berries. Table grapes are used fresh and may be red, green, or black. Small, seeded types have an aromatic flavor and are used for juices and wines.
Hackberry comes from many types of trees of the Celtis genus. The hackberry tree can grow up to 80 – 100 feet in height. It has purple skin with a tiny nut inside and is an edible berry.
Their sweet taste makes them the bird’s staple but the locals often use the pit to roast them like chestnuts.
As little as two to five berries is enough to cause a deadly outcome.
Huckleberries grow wild throughout the Pacific Northwest. They thrive in the cool, moist conditions found in woodland settings. They are similar to blueberries and are delicious fresh, or in jams and baked goods.
This shrub is native to the Pacific Northwest, west of the Cascade Mountains. Native Americans consumed the Indian Plum in dried and cooked form. They also used it for treating tuberculosis.
Grown as ornamentals, the plant grows small purple to black berries. It can climb up to 98 feet high on vertical surfaces. Birds often feed on the berries, but the plant is poisonous for humans.
This plant tolerates harsh conditions, growing wild throughout much of North America. It is used as a landscaping plant, although the fruit is good to eat, somewhat similar to blueberries.
Junipers produce dusty blue berries that resemble blueberries. The fruit isn’t toxic but is rarely palatable.
This bush plant belongs to the cypress family of Cupressaceae. The indigenous people used the berries as a traditional medicine for diabetes. They used burning juniper as part of their folkloric rites. Juniper berries are also used for making Gin.
Also known as cowberry.
This cross between a raspberry and a blackberry has a distinct taste. It’s used commercially in jams and juices. Grow loganberry as you would blackberries.
The parasitic mistletoe plant produces small, glutinous, white berries in winter. Stems, leaves, and berries are all toxic when ingested.
Celtic Druids considered mistletoe a symbolic plant because of its hardiness during the winter months. Fast forward to the 18th century, the herb was introduced into Christmas celebrations. That’s when the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe originated as well.
This plant grows wild in northern woodlands and marshes. The berry resembles chokecherries in appearance and taste. Use it in syrups and preserves.
Oregon grapes grow well in a variety of soils and are used primarily as a landscaping shrub.
The small, purple fruits are tart, but are eaten fresh or made into wine or preserves. Oregon grape root is used to treat diarrhea, constipation, and gallbladder disease.
Like tomatoes, persimmon is botanically classified as a berry. It’s native to the Middle East and Asia, but can be successfully grown in the Southern United States. It has a tart taste and slightly mealy texture.
The fruit of this plant resembles blueberries but don’t be fooled. All parts of the plant are toxic. The berries lack the star at the base of the fruit found on blueberries and have a glossy purple-red sheen.
Small purple or black berries that grow on evergreen or semi-evergreen flowering shrubs or hedges. Privet berries are sold in a farmer’s market and are used for space decoration and wedding bouquets. They’re toxic when ingested.
Privet is used as food for birds and also by some larvae species such as Lepidoptera. These larvae are used for weed control because of their propensity to feed on one single crop.
Raspberries are cold-hardy and long-lived. They produce sweet, flavorful fruit suitable for fresh eating, sauces, and preserves. Plant raspberries in fertile soil and provide at least one inch of water weekly. Prune them once a year and protect them from rabbit damage.
There are three main types, namely, purple, black and red raspberries.
Black raspberries are native to western North America. They grow as north as Alaska to as south as California. Black raspberries have a hollow center, just like the thimble-like fruits of red raspberries.
They have high concentrations of Vitamin C that helps ward off inflammation.
Learn more about how to grow raspberries in your home garden.
Red mulberry trees are native to many parts of the United States. They produce fruit similar to blackberries. The fruit is highly perishable and leaves a mess on sidewalks and hard surfaces.
Salmonberry is a perennial plant native to Alaska and Canada. The orange or red fruit resemble raspberries and are eaten fresh or in preserves.
Salmonberries are rich in polyphenols. This makes them effective against indigestion, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases.
Seaberry (Sea Buckhorn)
Seaberry grows in the temperate and sub-arctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere. It was naturalized in Canada in the 1930s. It’s an edible berry known as a superfruit because it is high in nutrients.
Snowberry is present all across the northern United States and the Canadian provinces. They’re often considered poisonous, but they’re not very digestible for people.
Also known as Waxberry, White Coralberry, or White, Thin-leaved, or Few-flowered Snowberry. They’re used medicinally for treating burns and sores, and as a shampoo and deodorant.
Homegrown strawberries have little in common with those found in grocery stores. They’re often smaller but have an intense flavor that makes you stand up and take notice. Grow strawberries in fertile, moist soil and full sun.
Strawberries are top-ranked for its antioxidant content. The berries have potent cancer-fighting properties and protect against heart disease.
If you opt to grow strawberries, start small. Strawberry runners tend to branch out on their own and begin new plants. It’s a budget-friendly way to get a full-scale strawberries patch.
Sugarberry trees grow throughout the Southern United States and produce yellow or orange fruits loved by birds and insects.
This hybrid cross between a loganberry and a black raspberry produces sweet, red fruit. It grows in moist, fertile soil and is more frost hardy than blackberries.
A wild cousin of cultivated raspberries, thimbleberries grow from Alaska to northern Mexico. Use them fresh or in jams. They are softer and more perishable than raspberries and rarely sold commercially.
White mulberry trees were brought from China to the U.S in the 1800s to establish a silk industry here. The caterpillars feed off the leaves of these trees. The fruit is bland and unpalatable to humans.
This wild raspberry grows throughout New England and is considered an invasive plant. The fruits are soft and tart.
They resemble raspberries in taste but are more juicy and acidic. They can be mistaken for red and black raspberries, ball of these are edible.
This plant grows on creeping vines throughout Canada and the northern United States. The berries have an acerbic taste that improves with freezing.
Yew berries are red berries found on evergreen shrubs. The cones are light red and open at the end. They’re grown as ornamentals and love mountainous cool regions. All parts of the plant are toxic, while consuming leaves can be lethal.
Byrnes M. Young introduced this hybrid cross between a dewberry and a blackberry in 1905. It is frequently grown in New Zealand, Australia, and South Africa.
How to Grow Berries at Home?
What’s quintessential when growing berries is that they need plenty of sun to propagate. All types of berries have that in common. Only raspberries can survive in partial shade (yet they’ll be scarce).
If you want your own berry patch, prepare for a few years’ worth of garden bed preparation.
A healthy and worthwhile berry patch requires fertilization with:
- Manure, or
Berries are intolerant of any weeds or undesirables, so it’s good to fertilize your beds once or twice a year. These natural agents will have strong effects on the long term health of berries.
Also be sure to keep your berry patches:
- Away from wild berry varieties (to prevent disease and cross-contamination)
- A safe distance from other plant patches in your garden (so they can grow undisturbed)
If you’re growing different berry varieties, make sure to remove any dead canes or runners. Take extra care with strawberries since they can spread out of control and endanger other crops.
Frankie Flowers, a gardening expert, shares insider tips on how to grow different types of berries, from raspberries and blackberries to white strawberries.
The world of berries extends far beyond the few commonly grown or found in grocery stores. Many berries that grow wild are safe to eat. Yet be sure to consult a field guide to accurately identify any berry before you consume it. Berries resembling blackberries and raspberries are often safe, as are wild strawberries.
Did we miss any berries? Leave a comment!