Gathering and growing edible fruits and nuts
- It's important to know the rules about gathering plants from state forests and parks for personal or commercial use. Rules depend on what you're harvesting and where.
- There are many cold hardy trees and shrubs that can provide edible fruit and nuts in your home landscape.
Gathering wild foods from the woods and environment is a common practice in many cultures.
There are many fruits and nuts growing wild that can be gathered in the woodlands of Minnesota or planted in your yard to provide food and enjoyment.
Non–timber forest products (NTFPs) are products that can be harvested for food, medicine, crafts and decorative items. These products can be used personally or to generate income.
See Forest farming for more information on cultivating high value specialty forest crops.
- It is OK to collect and use dead fuelwood for campfires while in a state forest.
- It is OK to:
- Collect berries or mushrooms for personal use while in a state forest.
- Pick up cones from the ground to take home.
- You must get a permit from the DNR Forestry office closest to the state forest to:
- Cut or remove any trees or plants for any reason.
- Remove wood from state land boundaries.
- Harvest Christmas trees or boughs.
- Collect a large amount of berries, mushrooms, dead fuelwood or tap trees for maple syrup for personal use or for sale.
- There are special rules for harvesting:
Where to get permits
- Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
- Offices of the Chippewa and Superior National Forests
- Tribal headquarters on reservation lands
- County land management offices
The Minnesota Harvester Handbook is an excellent wild gatherers resource that addresses sustainable natural resource harvest and markets. It was developed by University of Minnesota Extension and many contributors.
Growing fruit and nuts in home landscapes
There are many species of trees and shrubs that produce fruits and nuts that can be planted in home landscapes. Shrubs are smaller and preferred when space is limited.
The list of fruits and nuts in the following table is not complete but gives information about many trees and shrubs that can be planted in home landscapes.
When choosing plants for Minnesota yards and gardens, select cold hardy varieties for best results. See other pages on this site about growing stone fruits, raspberries, strawberries, apples and grapes in home gardens.
Pollinator friendly includes plants that are pollen and nectar sources, as well as those that can provide pollinator habitat.
|Trees/Shrubs||Scientific name||MN native||Pollinator friendly||Zone||Comments||Height (feet)||Width (feet)|
|Apricot||Prunus armeniaca||X||4-8||2 varieties for cross pollination||12-18||10-15|
|Blueberry||Vaccinium spp.||X||X||3-7||pH 4.0-5.5; 2 varieties best||5||3|
|Buffaloberry||Shepherdia argentea||X||X||2-7||1 male to pollinate 1 or more females||3-13||5-8|
|Cherries, Dwarf Sour||Prunus kerrasis||X||2-5||www.fruit.usask.ca/articles/cherries.pdf||6-7||6-7|
|Cherry, Nanking||Prunus tomentosa||X||4-6||6-8||6-10|
|Cherry, Tart||Prunus cerasus||X||X||4-7||10-12||15-20|
|Chestnuts||Castanea mollisima � (Chinese)||X||4-9||Requires slightly acidic, well-drained soil||40-60||50|
|Chokeberry, Black||Aronia melanocarpa||X||X||3-7||Aronia Berry (A. mitschurinii)||5-7||5-7|
|Cranberry, Highbush||Viburnum trilobum||X||X||3-7||3-10||3-6|
|Currant, Black||Ribes nigrum||X||3-5||(European - nigrum)||3-5||3-5|
|Currant, Red||Ribes rubrum||X||3-5||3-5||3-5|
|Currant, White||Ribes spp.||X||3-5||3-5||3-5|
|Elderberry||Sambucus spp.||X||X||3-8||May grow but not ripen in Zone 3. Black is edible.||6-10||6-12|
|Gooseberry||Ribes hirtellum||X||X||3-8||Most are American x European hybrids||2-5||3-5|
|Hardy Kiwifruit||Actinidia kolomikta||X||3-9||1 male to pollinate 1 or more females. May not fruit in zone 3.||15-20||20-25|
|Hazelnut||Corylus americana||X||X||3-9||Bush-type, being tested in MN||4-12||3-8|
|Hickory||Carya laciniosa,C. cordiformis,C. ovata||X||X||4-8||Shellbark for uplands; Bitternut, Shagbark for lowlands||60-80||50|
|Honeyberry||Lonicera caerulea||X||2-7||Needs 2 compatible varieties. www.fruit.usask.ca/haskap.html. Birds and powdery mildew can be problems.||3-5||3-5|
|Juneberry||Amelanchier spp.||X||X||2-5||Serviceberry and Saskatoons; shrub or tree forms||5-15||10-40|
|Korean Pine||Pinus koreansis||3-7||Pine nuts, resembles white pine|
|Lingonberry||Vaccinium vitis-ideaea||X||X||2-7||pH 4-5.5||2-16||1-3|
|Nannyberry||Viburnum lentago||X||X||2-8||Prefers moist soil||10-15||6-12|
|Paw-Paw||Asimina triloba||X||5-8||Needs 2 varieties||15-20||15-20|
|Pear||Pyrus spp.||X||3-9||Fireblight resistant; need 2 varieties||10-40||15-20|
|Plum||Prunus spp.||X||X||4-9||Hybrids need 2 compatible varieties; European plums are self-fertile||12-20||8-15|
|Walnut, Black||Juglans nigra||X||X||4-6||High quality nuts from select cultivars||100-150||60-120|
Reviewed in 2019