Wisconsin has a diverse native flora that includes wild fruit trees native to the state. Choosing varieties that grow naturally within the state for home gardens and landscapes ensures the trees will grow and flourish. Given the diversity of fruiting trees available, it isn't hard to choose one or several for landscaping, collecting fruit or the beauty of spring blossoms.
The mulberry tree is quite common in Wisconsin and produces a fruit similar to a small blackberry. The inconspicuous green flowers in spring give way to nearly black fruit when fully ripe in August. This fruit is a favorite bird forage and makes delicious pies and tarts or an addition to your summer fruit salad. The trees will grow up to 70 feet in height and may be considered somewhat invasive if not kept in check.
Wisconsin is home to several types of cherry, including black cherry, pin cherry and choke cherry. The pin and choke cherries bloom in late April, followed by very tart fruit that makes excellent jelly. The black cherry blooms in May and produces fruit for early summer picking. The pin cherry grows to 30 feet tall, the choke cherry to 25 feet and the black cherry reaches a height of 40 feet.
The wild plum and Canadian wild plum are both natives of the state. They are easily distinguished by the length of the thorns. The wild plum has short, blunt thorns while the Canadian plum has longer, sharper thorns. Both produce fruit that is ripe in late summer or early fall. Both trees reach a maximum of height of 25 to 30 feet. The fruits are large, edible and good to eat when ripe.
The downy juneberry, or common service berry, provides a showy display of small, white flowers in mid spring, giving way to dark red berries in early to late summer. This tree grows to a maximum height of 35 feet, although shorter is more common. Juneberry almost rivals the cherry for a spring display. The summer berries are a bird attractor and make good jams, jellies, pies and other home baked goods. This tree is generally available through nurseries.
Throughout the state, apple trees grow wild. Although a poor producer of fruit in the wild, apple trees that are cared for provide spring blossoms and late summer or fall fruit. Most cultivars do not come true from seed, but a few old varieties, some distributed by the legendary Jonathon Chapman (Johnny Appleseed) himself, continue to grow throughout the state on abandoned farms and homesteads. Although not a true native species, the apple tree still grows wild throughout Wisconsin. Apple trees reach 30 to 40 feet in height and bloom in pinks and whites in early to mid spring.
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