Zone 2 Edible Food Forest Full Plant List (Sorted By Layer)

Plant options for zone 2 Canada feel highly limited which is far from the truth; they are simply different! You can grow a whole 7-layer edible and medicinal food forest, and during those cold winters, save plenty of aromatic herbs for tea.

A zone 2 forest garden should have a mix of protective, perhaps non-edible plants, and edible plants. The purpose of protective plants (which may or may not happen to be edible) is to create a growable environment for your desired edible plants!

A planned windbreak or shelterbelt will allow for healthier plants which could mean more fruit for fresh eating, jams, and jellies.

See: How To Grow a Tree in a Windy Area (Everything You Can Do)

In this article, I provide an extensive list of plants you can grow for each layer in your food forest with varieties that grow best in zone 2. I selected a mixture of the most useful, medicinal, palatable, and protective species so you can diversify all in one place.

Your space might look something like this right now. After scouring this post, you’ll have all the best choices for filling it this spring!

Canopy layer: zone 2 edible trees and nut trees

After you’ve prepared your ground you’ll start with planting the canopy layer and windshield, also known as a shelter belt.

By planting the canopy layer first, you’ll allow these trees to grow with a first head start.

The canopy layer is important for providing protection for your precious fruiting trees, supplying wildlife with a place to habitat safely, and adding biomass to your forest garden!

Biomass will play an essential role in replenishing needed nutrients and minerals in your soil. Most of your canopy layer will consist of deciduous trees that will drop leaves every year, adding life to your soil.

Over time, you’ll propagate the trees from your canopy layer to start new ones to replace older ones that you may decide to cut down for all sorts of uses like firewood or adding more biomass to the ground!

Trees such as birches will also one day be consumed by medicinal fungi. Chaga is a medicine that grows on birches and later causes death to the birch trees. You’ll want to keep this in mind so you’re sure to replenish your canopy layer in a couple decades’ time before their lifecycle expires.

NameCommon namePrimary Purpose – Wildlife habitat & leaf mulch
Alnus incanaGrey AlderNitrogen fixation, edible uses, more info
Betula pendula laciniataCutleaf Weeping BirchBirds, beauty, chaga (medicinal fungi), polypores, useful bark, edible sap, edible inner bark, tinder
Betula papyriferaPaper BirchBirds, beauty, chaga (medicinal fungi), polypores, useful bark, edible sap, edible inner bark, tinder
Celtis occidentalis var. “delta”Delta HackberryEdible, wood source, habitat, more info
Fraxinus nigraFallgold Black AshHabitat, shelter belt: 3rd row in, great hardwood, more info
Fraxinus pennsylvanicaGreen AshHardy to climatic extremes, great hardwood, shelter belt: 3rd row in
Fraxinus americanaWhite AshHabitat, great hardwood, shelter belt: 3rd row in, medicinal uses: more info
Sorbus americanaAmerican Mountain AshShelterbelt: 3rd row in, Edible fruit: more info
Populus balsamiferaBalsam Poplarshelter belt: 3rd row in, Medicinal uses: more info
Populus tremuloidesAspenMore info
SalixWillow, certain varietiesBeauty, shelterbelt: 2nd row in
Tilia americanaAmerican LindenFragrant flowers, edible leaves, and flowers, pollinator
Ulmus americanaElmMedicinal: more info
Larix sibericaSiberian LarchEdible components: fresh needles for tea and bark, confirm with your own research.
Pinus koraiensisKorean PineEdible pistachio-sized pine nuts, shelter belt: 4th or 5th row in, where to buy
Pinus cembra sibricaSiberian PineEdible nuts
Picea xSpruce year-round edible needles, shelter belt: 4th or 5th row in
Thuja occidentalisEastern white cedarEdible inner bark, shelter belt
Zone 2 Canopy Layer Plant List: Mature heights are between 30-100ft

Understory layer: zone 2 edible fruit trees

You can grow several varieties of apple trees in zone 2!

Once your pioneers are in place, you’ll have a suitable environment for your understory layer in a year’s time. If your climate is particularly harsh, you might want to allow your canopy and shelterbelt to establish for a couple of years before planting your precious fruits.

If you can protect your understory layer from wind and deer, by all means, plant them at the same time as your canopy.

For a sustainable forest garden, you’ll want to include a mix of nitrogen fixers, edible fruits, edible nuts, and more shelterbelt plants.

If you plant 1 nitrogen fixer each, in a couple of years you’ll be able to propagate them into many more. I recommend propagating them to reap the reward of nitrogen fixers they will have to be killed. The longer you allow their root systems to establish, the more underground biomass they will provide upon death. So you’ll likely be waiting 10-20 years before chopping them down. This gives you plenty of time to create and establish new ones from your existing plants.

Nut trees typically take at least 10, sometimes 20 years before you’ll get food! Planting nuts as soon as possible gives you more time to enjoy their harvest.

Having a mix of heights in your shelterbelt from trees, to shrubs, to herbaceous plants; you’ll protect your forest garden from wind and chills at all heights.

NameCommon namePrimary Purpose – Edible fruit and flowers
Caragana arborescens Siberian pea shrub/treeEdible, medicinal, outside edge shelter belt, dyes, fibers, nitrogen fixation, more info
Malus xCrabapple Edible fruit, flowers
Prunus maackiiCherryEdible fruit, flowers
Prunus virginianaChokecherryHabitat, somewhat edible, medicinal uses: more info
Prunus xPlumEdible fruit, flowers, acme plum, gold plum, many more plum options
Sorbus aucupariaMountain AshEdible but bitter, bird food, medicinal: more info
Corylus cornutaBeaked hazelnutEdible nuts, available to buy
Pinus koraiensisKorean PineWhere to buy
SyringaLilacOutside edge shelter belt, edible flowers, fragrance
Syringa vulgarisVillosa LilacOutside edge shelter belt, edible flowers, fragrance
Malus sp. 9-22 EndEnd Apple TreeEdible fruit, where to buy
Malus sp. Fall RedFall red apple treeEdible fruit, where to buy, many more apple options
Pyrus ussuriensisSiberian pear treeEdible fruit, available to buy
Viburnum lentagoNannyberry, SheepberryEdible fruit, habitat
OleasterRussian oliveNitrogen fixer, edible fruit
Rhus glabraSmooth sumacEdible zesty flavor, medicinal, fast-growing wood source
Crataegus calpodendronPear HawthornEdible fruit
Asimina trilobaPawPaw (Taylor)Large edible fruit
Zone 2 Understory Layer Plant List: Mature heights are between 8-30ft

Shrub layer: zone 2 edible fruiting shrubs

There are more edible plants for zone 2 growing than expected!

The shrub layer is a wonderful opportunity for incorporating deer-resistant walls. Done well, it can encourage them to stay outside of your forest garden. For this purpose, you’d be looking to select thorny shrubs and rough evergreens such as junipers.

Your wall layout would ideally consist of several rows in the direction they’re most likely to come from.

Just like a shelterbelt. Except a shelterbelt is consisted of rows to block the direction of where the wind comes from.

For spacing, treat your shrubs similar to trees, except shrubs will take up more bushy space on your level when mature. You’ll be able to walk under most of your understory trees and canopy trees. Trees still require adequate spacing so their canopies don’t crow too closely, but they can be allowed to touch. For shrubs; you don’t want their “canopies” touching at all, otherwise, you couldn’t walk between them! So spacing can be more considerable for this layer.

NameCommon namePrimary Purpose
Rubus (wild species)Wild BlackberryEdible fruit, deer resistant
Rubus idaeusBoyne raspberriesEdible fruit, deer resistant
Rubus arcticusArctic RaspberriesEdible fruit, deer resistant
Amelanchier spp.Wild serviceberryEdible fruit
Viburnum trilobumHighbush cranberryEdible fruit, birds
Viburnum cassinoidesWithe RodEdible fruit
Arctostaphylos uva-ursiBearberryEdible fruit, medicinal leaves
Vaccinium vitis-idaeaLingonberryEdible fruit
Ribes uva-crispaGooseberryEdible fruit
Lycium barbarumGoji berryEdible fruit
Vaccinium angustifoliumLow bush blueberryEdible fruit, more info
Myrica pensylvanicaNorthern BayberryEdible fruit, more info
Prunus fruticosaMongolian cherryEdible fruit, shelterbelt, more info
Shepherdia argenteaSilver buffaloberryEdible fruit, deer resistant, nitrogen fixer
Juniperus communisJuniperEvergreen, edible fruit (but not always), shelterbelt, deer resistant, more info
Andromeda polifoliaBog RosemariesMedicinal
Elaeagnus commutataSilverberryEdible, nitrogen fixer
Prunus pumilaSand cherryEdible
Amelanchier alnifoliaSaskatoon berry (northline)Edible
Rhododendron canadenseRhodoraPoisonous, pollinators
Cornus sericeaRedosier DogwoodMedicinal uses, crafts
Empetrum nigrumCrow berryEdible fruit, evergreen
Lonicera caerulea (var. emphyllocalyx or kamtschatica)HaskappsEdible fruit
Dasiphora fruticosaShrubby CinqfoilLeaves for tea, flowers
Ledum palustre LLabrador teaGreat for tea, medicinal
Amorpha canescensLeadplantTea, flowers, shelter belt, nitrogen fixer, more info
Forsythia ovataNorther gold forsythiaFlowers, edible uses
Salix discolorPussy willowCrafts, wildlife food, medicinal
Spiraea trilobataThree-Lobed SpireaPollinator
Prunus tenellaRussian almondShelter belt, wildlife, dyes, medicinal
Hippophae rhamnoidesSea-buckthornNitrogen fixer, deer resistant, edible nutritious berries, usually zone 3; but if used in your 4th or 5th row of shelter belt or deer wall it may fair well.
Chaenomeles speciosaNorthern BayberryEdible fruit, bay leaf substitute
Celtis occidentalis var. “delta”Delta HackberryEdible nutrient-dense fruit
Zone 2 Shrub Layer Plant List

Herbaceous layer: zone 2 edible herbs and flowers

Herbs and flowers can be companion-planted around the bases of trees and planted in between distant shrubs.

The herbaceous layer will play a large role in balancing pest control. There are a variety of plants that can be used for different purposes. Fragrant herbs are good scent confusers and flowering plants provide food for predators.

Large leafy plants (like rhubarb) make great mulch.

A lot of this layer is easy to harvest for edible and medicinal purposes too!

The plants you put in today will be less permanent than the previous layers. Herbs and flowers will change the most over time as their life spans are shorter than trees and shrubs. Because of this, it will be important that you ensure your plants reseed or you divide and propagate them. Most plants will reproduce themselves successfully.

NameCommon namePrimary Purpose
Rubus chamaemorusCloudberriesEdible raspberry-like fruit
Cardinal flowerRed lobeliaFlowers, pollinators
Myrica galeSweetgaleMedicinal
Allium schoenoprasumChivesEdible, pollinators
Rheum rhabarbarumRhubarbEdible, deer resistant, great for fruit trees, nutrient accumulator, great mulch sub for comfrey
Aquilegia canadensisEastern Red ColumbineFlowers
Chenopodium capitatumStrawberry spinachReseeds
Viola sororiaWild violetsFlowers, edible
Eryngium alpinumAlpine Sea HollyMedicinal, beauty
Primula denticulataDrumstick PrimulaEdible, flowers
Sarracenia PurpureaPitcher plant (carnivorous)more info
saxifraga oppositofoliaMountain saxifrageEdible, pollinators
saxifraga paniculatalifelong saxifrageEdible
Viola blandaSweet white violetEdible, flowers
Abelmoschus esculentusOkraAnnual, edible
Caltha palustrisMarsh marigoldEdible
Hylotelephium telephiumOrpineMedicinal, flowers
Monarda fistulosaWild bergamotPollinators, edible flowers for tea, reseeds
HeleniumSneezeweedMedicinal, pollinators
HemerocallisDay lilyEdible, and delicious! Tolerates zone 3, but in a microclimate, you could likely get away with some hardy cultivars.
HostaHostaEdible shoots, tolerates zone 3, but in a microclimate, you could likely get away with some hardy cultivars.
Matricaria chamomillaChamomileReseeds, tea
Rhodiola roseaRoserootEdible
Hablitzia tamnoidesCaucasian Mountain SpinachEdible leaf, mulch for winter protection
Borago officinalisBorageAnnual, flowers, tea, reseeds
Gymnocarpium dryopterisNorthern oak fernBeauty, wildlife attractor
Tagetes patulaFrench MarigoldFlowers, tea
Zone 2 Herbaceous Layer Plant List

Root layer: zone 2 edible roots

Tubers have a beneficial life cycle of their own. Just because you grow them; doesn’t mean you have to worry about eating them!

Some you’ll totally want to grow for eating, others perhaps for flowers. The bonus of leaving tubers alone is that they’ll eventually rot in the ground. This provides lots of food for soil life and for worms to thrive!

Not everything must be a nitrogen fixer to be good for the soil; simply biomass is beneficial.

NameCommon namePrimary Purpose
Calla palustrisWater ArumCan be hardy to zone 2, edible more info
Asarum hartwegiiSierra Wild WingerEdible root
Helianthus tuberosusSunchokesEdible roots, flowers, shelterbelt, tolerates zone 3; but you can either heavily mulch tubers before extreme cold sets in or dig them up and replant. Prolific food source
Pastinaca sativaParsnipEdible root
Leuzea carthamoides (Syn. Rhaponticum carthamoides) Marol RootMedicinal root, flowers
Cichorium intybus ChicoryEdible root
Menyanthes trifoliataBogbeanMedicinal root
Zone 2 Root (tuber) Layer Plant List

Vining layer: zone 2 edible vines

Vines can provide a great deal of beauty, attract birds, and pollinators, and provide you with fruit!

We are most excited for our hardy kiwis to set fruit in the years to come. Patiently waiting, we are…

Vines can be planted by physical structures for support such as fences or log posts. Or, you can plant vines on your pioneer trees and nitrogen-fixing trees a couple of years after they’ve been able to grow and establish.

NameCommon namePrimary Purpose
Vitus sp. ValiantValiant grapevineEdible fruit and leaves, available to buy
Actinidia argutaCultivars: Chung Bai, Aromatnaya, Krupnopladnay, Pavlovskaya, Sentyabraskaya, Arctic Beauty and AnnikkiEdible fruit, certain cultivars can grow in zones 2!
CelastrusBittersweetBeauty, bird food, poisonous
ClematisClematis – Hardy VarietiesBeauty
LoniceraHoneysuckleBeauty, pollinators, find/confirm edible varieties
Cucurbita argyrospermaCushaw PumpkinAnnual, save seeds
Linnaea borealisLinnaea borealisEdible leaves
Oxyria digyna Mountain sorrelEdible leaves
Zone 2 Vining Layer Plant List

Ground cover layer: zone 2 edible ground covers

Now that you have all your layers planted the way you want, lastly, you’ll want to diversify your ground covers!

Add deer-resistant ground covers on your deer wall, even in place of paths. You may want to do this step sooner than later since your forest garden needs protection from deer especially while it’s young.

Keep the ground cover for your pathways something that can tolerate traffic. For the rest, consider adding edible foods, flowers, and fragrant low-growers.

NameCommon namePrimary Purpose
Paxistima canbyiCliff Green Pachistima Dense green
Carex eburneaBristleleaf sedgedeer resistant
Phlox subulataCreeping or moss phloxFlowers
Fragaria ×Strawberry (toklat variety)Edible
Saponaria ocymoidesRock soapwortDeer resistant
Nasturtium officinaleWatercressEdible
Coriandrum sativumCorianderReseeds, edible, fragrant
Cornus canadensisBunchberry/creeping dogwoodEdible berries
Zone 2 Ground Cover Layer Plant List

After a few years of establishing your forest garden, a microclimate will be created. The more mature and protective your forest garden becomes, the better chance you’ll have of getting away with some zone 3 edible perennials!

Make your list, draw it out, and order the plants

All you’ve got left to do now is to take action!

We hope this helps you design your very own super-cold-climate forest garden with ease!

Did we miss any prized arctic plants in any of the lists? There is most likely something to add.

If you’re growing something in zone 2 that isn’t here; leave a comment to let us know.

This article was originally published on If it is now published on any other site, it was done without permission from the copyright owner.

No liability exists against Food Forest Living or any member of Food Forest Living, nor can they be held responsible for any allergy, illness, or injurious effect that any person or animal may suffer as a result of the information in this catalog or through using any of the plants mentioned by Food Forest Living. Do your own research and due diligence when deciding to consume any edible plants.


While Rachelle's hands are clean for the keyboard, she enjoys writing and designing creative content and resources. You will most likely find her outside planting a cabbage, foraging berries for breakfast, and collecting herbs for year-round tea or making food.

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