Native plants for a backyard food forest

“I tried to discover, in the rumor of forests and waves, words that other men could not hear, and I pricked up my ears to listen to the revelation of their harmony.”~ Gustave Flaubert, “November,” 1842

In Sunday’s column (Feb. 19, 2017), I wrote about creating a forest garden using plants that are native to our region. A forest garden, or food forest, consists of multiple layers of edible plants that grow happily together to create a balanced micro-ecological system in our yard. The plant layers consist of small or large fruit/nut trees (depending on property size), shrubs, herbaceous perrenials or self-seeding annuals, groundcovers and vertical-growing vine crops.

Here are pictures and links to recipes using some of the plants native to our area in a food forest. Pictures are from Hansen’s Northwest Native Plants Database at: http://www.nwplants.com/.

Here’s a map of public food forests in the U.S.

The Winslow Food Forest in Portland is also open to the public.

Small canopy trees

Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis)

Western redbud (Cercis occidentalis)

Western crabapple (Malus fusca)

Western crabapple (Malus fusca)

Western chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)

Western chokecherry (Prunus virginiana)

Shrubs

Western serviceberry (Amelanchier arnifolia)

Western serviceberry (Amelanchier arnifolia)

Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium)

Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium)

Pacific blackberry (Rubrus ursinus)

Pacific blackberry (Rubrus ursinus)

Herbaceous Perennials and Herbs

Horsemint, wild bergamot (Monarda punctata)

Horsemint, wild bergamot (Monarda punctata

Licorice fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza)

Licorice fern (Polypodium glycyrrhiza)

Monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatas)

Monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatas)

Bulbs

Chocolate lily (Frittilary affinis)

Chocolate lily (Frittilary affinis) 

Tiger lily (Lilium columbianum)

Tiger lily (Lilium columbianum)

Wild onion (Allium cernuum)

Wild onion (Allium cernuum)

Groundcover

Blue blossom (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus)

Blue blossom (Ceanothus thyrsiflorus)

Wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)

Wild strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)

Wood sorrel (Oxalis oregana)

Wood sorrel (Oxalis oregana)

Vines

Western Wild grape (Vitis californica)

Western Wild grape (Vitis californica)

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  • About the Author

    Rhonda Nowak

    Rhonda Nowak is a Rogue Valley gardener, writer and teacher. With more than 25 years of gardening experience and a Ph.D. in literature and language arts education, she combines a love for plants, poetry, and prose in her Literary Gardener blog. ... Full Profile
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