Edible Trees

Trees are a perennial wood plant which typically has many secondary branches supported and lifted clear off the ground by a central main stem or trunk. The insides of trees contain woody tissues for strength and vascular tissue to carry nutrients from one part of the tree to another. Most trees are surrounded by a layer of bark which serves as a protection barrier. Below the ground, roots branch and spread out widely, serving to anchor the tree in place as well as extract moisture and nutrients from its environment. Trees typically bear leaves (or needles) which contain chlorophyll and convert energy from sunlight, as is typical of most plants.

Trees are used by humans in many ways, but mostly as a food source from the fruits they bear, as well for building materials from lumber. The sap or resin from trees is also processed and used to make various chemical preservatives, such as varnishes. Dried lumber and tree branches are also used as fuel for making fire, which provides for warmth and cooking. Even the bark of certain tree species is used, for example the spice cinnamon is made from the bark of the cinnamon tree, and the medicine, aspirin, is made from the bark of the willow tree.

Connecticut, like other parts of New England, is famous for our deciduous tree forests, especially in the autumn, when the leaves turn a variety of colors including bright yellows, reds and oranges. Maple syrup, made from the sap of maple trees is also a local favorite and used as a topping for pancakes and waffles in most of the United States. Connecticut also has an abundance of fruit trees and orchards, and apple picking is a favorite autumn activity.

 
Acer saccharum
Common Name: Sugar maple
The sap is boiled and used to make maple syrup, maple candy, etc...

Aralia spinosa
Common Name: Devil's walkingstick
The young leaves can be eaten if gathered before the prickles harden. They are then chopped finely and cooked as a potherb. Warnings!

Carya ovata
Common Name: Shagbark hickory
The Shagbark Hickory's nut is edible and has a very sweet taste. The wood is used to smoke meats. The bark of the shagbark hickory is also used to flavor a maple-style syrup.

Carya tomentosa
Common Name: Mockernut hickory
The nut meat is edible, but due the small size, they are not commonly eaten by humans. The wood is used to smoke meats.

Cercis canadensis
Common Name: Eastern redbud
Native Americans consumed redbud flowers raw or boiled, and ate roasted seeds.

Cornus kousa
Common Name: Kousa dogwood
The fruits are edible and sweet. They are sometimes used for making wine.

Elaeagnus umbellata
Common Name: Autumn olive
When ripe, the fruit is juicy and edible, and works well as a dried fruit. It is small but abundantly produced, tart-tasting, and has a chewable seed.

Fagus grandifolia
Common Name: American beech
The fruit of the beech tree, known as beechnuts, are small, roughly triangular and edible, with a bitter, astringent taste. It is not recommended to eat too many because they contain low concentrations of Trimethylamine, which is slightly toxic. Roasting both improves flavour and reduces the amount of Trimethylamine. Fresh ... [READ MORE]

Fagus sylvatica
Common Name: European beech
The fruit of the beech tree, known as beechnuts, are small, roughly triangular and edible, with a bitter, astringent taste. It is not recommended to eat too many because they contain low concentrations of Trimethylamine, which is slightly toxic. Roasting both improves flavour and reduces the amount of Trimethylamine. Fres... [READ MORE]

Gleditsia triacanthos
Common Name: Honey locust
The pulp on the insides of the Honey Locust pods is edible, unlike the Black locust, which is toxic. Despite its name, the honey locust is not a significant honey plant. The name derives from the sweet taste of the legume pulp, which was used for food by Native American people, and can also be fermented to make beer. Warnings!

Ilex opaca
Common Name: American holly
It is reported that the leaves from the American holly can be used to make a tea-like beverage. Warnings!

Juglans cinerea
Common Name: Butternut
The nuts are edible and are usually used in baking and making candies, having an oily texture and pleasant flavor. The meat however is usually difficult to extract, and thus is not commonly found. The juice from the bark (and nut shell) contains a yellow dye that can leave a dark stain on the skin.

Juglans nigra
Common Name: Eastern black walnut
Black walnut nuts are shelled commercially in the United States. The nutmeats provide a robust, distinctive, natural flavor and crunch as a food ingredient. Popular uses include ice cream, bakery goods and confections. However the extraction of the kernel from the fruit of the black walnut is difficult. The thick hard shel... [READ MORE]

Juniperus virginiana
Common Name: Red cedar
The cones are used to flavor gin and alcohol spirits. Berries are eaten as a spice in cooking. Juniper oil is distilled from the wood, twigs and leaves.

Malus genus
Common Name: Crabapple
Although somewhat sour and small, crab apples are edible and once commonly used to make apple sauce. Though some crabapples can be too bitter.

Morus rubra
Common Name: Red mulberry
Mulberry berries are edible, flavorful, and often abundant, making them an excellent wild edible. When ripe, the flavor is sweet, not unlike blackberry.

Pinus strobus
Common Name: Eastern white pine
Pine needs have been used to make tea and are a rich source of vitamin C. The cambium (between the old wood and the bark of the tree) is edible. It would likely be scrapped-off and used in bread or porridge.

Prunus serotina
Common Name: Black cherry
The fruit of Prunus serotina is suitable for making jam and cherry pies, and has some use in flavoring liqueurs; they are also a popular flavoring for sodas and ice creams. Look for black cherry flavored soda and ice creams in most supermarkets.

Prunus serrulata
Common Name: Japanese cherry
Berries are edible, but usually sour and not very tasty. Probably better used for jams and jellies.

Quercus alba
Common Name: White oak
The acorns are edible, but only after being properly prepared by leeching the tannins and bitter flavors out thru multiple soakings of water. If not prepared properly, it can taste bitter and terrible. Otherwise, after preparation, the acorns can be ground into flour and baked into bread. Acorn flour can sometimes be found ... [READ MORE]

Quercus coccinea
Common Name: Scarlet oak
The acorns are edible, but only after being properly prepared by leeching the tannins and bitter flavors out thru multiple soakings of water. If not prepared properly, it can taste bitter and terrible. Otherwise, after preparation, the acorns can be ground into flour and baked into bread. Acorn flour can sometimes be found ... [READ MORE]

Quercus montana
Common Name: Chestnut oak
The acorns are edible, but only after being properly prepared by leeching the tannins and bitter flavors out thru multiple soakings of water. If not prepared properly, it can taste bitter and terrible. Otherwise, after preparation, the acorns can be ground into flour and baked into bread. Acorn flour can sometimes be found ... [READ MORE]

Quercus rubra
Common Name: Northern red oak
The acorns are edible, but only after being properly prepared by leeching the tannins and bitter flavors out thru multiple soakings of water. If not prepared properly, it can taste bitter and terrible. Otherwise, after preparation, the acorns can be ground into flour and baked into bread. Acorn flour can sometimes be foun... [READ MORE]

Quercus velutina
Common Name: Eastern black oak
The acorns are edible, but only after being properly prepared by leeching the tannins and bitter flavors out thru multiple soakings of water. If not prepared properly, it can taste bitter and terrible. Otherwise, after preparation, the acorns can be ground into flour and baked into bread. Acorn flour can sometimes be purc... [READ MORE]

Rhus glabra
Common Name: Smooth sumac
The berries are edible and may be a good source of vitamin C. Dried, ground sumac berries are used in middle eastern cuisine, especially in Turkey, in a seasoning blend known as Za'atar. The dried berries can also be made into a tea, and then chilled and sweetened as an alternative to pink lemonade. Look for sumac b... [READ MORE]

Rhus typhina
Common Name: Staghorn sumac
The berries are edible and may be a good source of vitamin C. Dried, ground sumac berries are used in middle eastern cuisine, especially in Turkey, in a seasoning blend known as Za'atar. The dried berries can also be made into a tea, and then chilled and sweetened as an alternative to pink lemonade. Look for sumac b... [READ MORE]

Sambucus nigra
Common Name: Black elderberry
The dark blue/purple berries can be eaten when fully ripe but are mildly poisonous in their unripe state. They should be cooked before being eaten, preferably to make jams, jellies, chutney, etc... All green parts of the plant are poisonous, containing cyanogenic glycosides. The flowers are used as a flavoring in liquors a... [READ MORE]