Pennsylvania Aboriginal Questions

I love that someone asks me a gardening-related question that I don’t know the answer to and it takes me on a new path. This happened last week on one of the beautiful days when everyone seemed to work in their own garden or garden. Outside time, weeding gave me the first opportunity to chat with my neighbor Beth over the garden fence.

After getting the latest information about his family, Beth said: “The other day her sister-in-law asked me if there were any fruits or vegetables native to Pennsylvania. I told her I knew I would ask someone. So — do you have any thoughts? “

“Wow!” I replied. “I haven’t even thought about it.” My brain began to make a humming noise. “Wait a minute.” Our conversation wandered into other areas and gave me the opportunity to ponder this new question behind my heart.

I finally came up with some ideas. I suggested “Serviceberry”. “And cherry. The forest around here was full of black cherry trees before I logged out to make furniture.” I wasn’t sure, but I thought there was a native morus alba in our state. .. “Oh-and strawberries. And black walnuts.”

Of course, when I ended up in the garden and returned indoors, I did a simple internet search to see what I missed. I was a little embarrassed because I didn’t remember popo and persimmons. And I’m glad I was right about morus alba. Red Mulberry (Morus rubra) is native to PA. In addition to black walnuts (Jugland nigra), nuts such as American hazelnut (Corylus americana), butternut (Juglans cinerea), and mocker nut hickory (Carya alba) were included in the list.

Prunus americana and P. angustifolia were on the list along with common hackberries (Celtis occidentalis), pin cherries (Prunus pensylvanica), and creeping megi (Mahonia repens). Bitter-berries (Prunus virginiana) were also included in the list, but be careful when eating the fruits of this cherry tree, as the seeds contain substances that the body converts to cyanide.

So it’s a great show of native fruits and nuts, but what about vegetables? I thought about the traditional “three sisters” planting practiced by Native Americans. Corn, beans and pumpkin. Some beans and pumpkins (pumpkins) appear to be native to North America, while corn is (probably) native to southern Mexico.

It was fun to know how many edible plants were native to Pennsylvania, but in fact most of the vegetables that appear on our plates and salad bowls were born outside the Americas and are the result of centuries of cultivation and trade. is. Lettuce and broccoli have roots in the Mediterranean region, with carrots in Iran / Afghanistan, cucumbers in India, most beans in Peru, and cabbage in mainland Europe. And our beloved tomatoes, along with peppers and potatoes, are from Latin America.

“How about rhubarb?” Beth asked. Rhubarb was an “old-fashioned” standard in American gardens, so I thought it could be unique to our federation. But I learned that even rhubarb comes from a long time ago, dating back to Siberia thousands of years ago.

Pam Baxter is an avid organic vegetable gardener living in Kimberton. Send an email to or to PO Box 80, Kimberton, PA, 19442. Share your gardening story on Facebook’s “Chester County Roots”. Big Life Lessons from Nature’s Little Secret, a Pam book for kids and families, is available on Amazon at / author / pamelabaxter, along with her companion field journal, Explore Outdoors.

Pennsylvania Aboriginal Questions

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