Red berries that grow on shrubs or trees can add a fun pop of color to any landscape design or garden. They can fill a decent amount of space and help you lower your overall landscape costs. If the trees and shrubs have edible red berries, you get the bonus of healthy, tasty fruits. However, not all red berries are edible, so it’s important to decide which type you want before you start to shop for your new shrubs or trees.
There are dozens of reasons why someone would want to have one of these berry trees or shrubs in their yard. Very often, it’s the deep scarlet color of the berries that appear in the winter when your yard or garden lacks color that is a huge attraction. The dark green foliage contrasts sharply with the bright red coloring to help brighten up your space. Additionally, another reason is that many red berries are extremely healthy. They have a fantastic taste and come packed full of antioxidants. You can easily eat them straight from the shrub or tree or add them in desserts, salads, and cereals.
If you’re someone who is considering adding shrubs or trees that produce red berries to your yard, this is for you. We’ve rounded up several fantastic examples with pictures so you can easily pick and choose which ones will look best all year-round.
1. Red Gooseberry Bush
When you think of gooseberries, many people picture very sour, decent-sized, green berries. However, there are gooseberry shrubs that produce ripe red berries. This type of shrub will usually get about five feet tall with the correct growing conditions, and it produces a woody stem that has very sharp thorns dotting it. The leaves on this shrub feature a very light green coloring that is very bright and vibrant, and the leaves typically have three to five lobes on them.
The tart green or red berries have tiny hairs all over them with an oval shape. You can also get species of this shrub that produces yellow or white berries. Because the berries are very tart, you can easily use them in sweet or savory dishes. You can sweeten them up and pop them into a pie, or you can spice them up and create a delicious homemade gooseberry chutney with them. The fruits will have a very firm texture when they’re ripe, and you may notice light stripes running down the berries. They’re ready to pick when they get to a very deep red shade.
2. Pin Cherries
Unlike traditional cherries that are slightly larger, fuller, and can have a yellow or reddish tint to them, this cherry shrub produces very small and round red berries. These berries are much smaller in size, and you may have heard them referred to as fire cherries, red cherries, or bird cherries. The shrub can easily get as large as a small tree, and this means that it has a normal growth habit that spans between 15 and 100 feet. It has a round-topped crown to it that makes it easy to identify if you spot it out in the woods.
The leaves on this shrub grow alternately and have a lanceolate shape to them. The stems are long, thin, and have a slightly red tint to them. Each of the bright red berries on this shrub can get less than 10mm across, and each berry has a single seed. If you’re looking for this tree out in the woods, try looking by river banks and it likes very wet and loose soil. It’s also a popular shrub to grow in parks across the United States. The cherries are edible, and they have a sweet but tart flavor profile.
3. Hobble Bush
Also known as the American wayfaring tree, witch-hobble, or moosewood, this is a perennial shrub. The red berries will slowly fade to a black hue as they ripen during the mid-summer months. This shrub is one that is native to the eastern portions of the United States, and you’ll find it growing in swamps, along river banks, and in forests. So, this means that it likes very damp or saturated soil. It also only requires dappled sunlight to grow very well, and it works well in your landscaping design because it also produces small clusters of pretty flowers in the spring months.
This shrub is slightly larger, and it has big oval leaves on it. The leaves are serrated to add texture, and they can get between 3.9 and 7.8-inches long. Small clusters of flowers will appear first before they give way to edible red berries. The berries on this bush have a slightly sweet taste to them, and many people compared it to dates or raisins. They have an oval shape, and they measure just over a half of an inch long. After a frost hits, the berries sweeten even more.
If you want to attract birds to your yard, try these red berries. This is a deciduous shrubby plant that comes from the holly family. It produces a host of inedible red berries for humans. There is a long history of using these berries in traditional medicine, but they can also cause low blood pressure and nausea. So, this one will be purely for looks instead of for looks and eating. You’ll get a huge amount of ornamental value out of this shrub if you plant it in a landscaped garden. Under the correct growing conditions, they can easily reach between 3 and 16-feet tall.
The glossy deep green foliage on this shrub will stick around from spring until the late fall months. It has lance-shaped leaves that have a slightly serrated edge to them, and they can get up to 3.5-inches long. The red berries on this shrub last through the winter, just as the name suggests. During the winter months, the leafless branches get loaded down with bright red berries. In turn, this adds a lot of wonderful color to your winter garden. Since they drop their leaves, there is minimal cleanup associated with having this shrub in your yard.
5. Red Chokeberry Bush
Chokeberries are a deciduous shrub that produce big black or red berries. Better known as Aronia berries, they have an extremely sour flavor profile to them. The most common type of chokeberry is the black chokeberry bush. However, there is a species that produces red chokeberries. The shrub can easily get between 6.5 and 13-feet tall at full maturity if you get the planting conditions right. It produces very pretty white flowers in the early spring months that contrast sharply with the green foliage. By the time summer rolls around, this shrub will have loads of berries instead.
The red berries on this tree are between 0.15 and 0.39-inches wide. You can eat the berries straight off the bush. However, the extremely sour and sharp taste is too much for most people to eat raw. They produce fall and winter berries that are okay if you break them down and sweeten them. They go well in pies or desserts with the right amount of sugar. Many people confuse this shrub with chokecherries since the fruits look similar and they both have a very strong astringent taste.
Redcurrants are a nice addition for anyone planting and maintaining a forest garden. No list of popular types of red berries would be complete without featuring this one. This berry falls into the same family classification as you get with gooseberries. This is another shrub that produces very thin stems and five-lobed leaves that are very large. The most noticeable feature of this shrub is the berries themselves. They form large clusters that hang down from the branches, and the berries are edible for both people and animals. They are slightly more tart than blackberries, and they have a hint of raspberry or rhubarb flavoring.
The translucent red berries that these shrubs produce in clusters are slightly smaller in diameter. However, each shrub can produce an impressive amount of berries. It’s not uncommon to get as much as nine pounds of berries every year from a single shrub. Plant this shrub in an area that gets partial to dappled shade. It can also do decently in deep shade, and you want to make a point to keep the soil moist but not saturated to keep the shrub thriving.
7. Bittersweet Nightshade
Since this plant has the name bittersweet nightshade, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that you really should avoid eating the red berries that it produces. Other common names for this plant include poison flower, poisonberry, and bitter nightshade. Snakeberry is another name, but you want to avoid confusing it with mock strawberries that are also called snake berries. Instead of being a shrub or a tree, this is actually a herbaceous vine that falls into the nightshade family of Solanaceae. So, this plant is actually closely related to eggplants, potatoes, and tomatoes.
The red berries this plant produces actually look like tiny red tomatoes. They look soft and juicy, but you should never eat them. They’re actually poisonous for humans, so you want to keep this vine well away from your pets or kids to avoid accidents. The berries are green when they first appear, and they slowly turn orange before fading to a fiery red color. It grows best in wetlands or by creeks, so it needs very moist soil that never dries out but drains nicely. It does well in full sun to partial shade, and you’ll get berries every year into the fall months.
8. Peruvian Pepper
Unlike the traditional bell pepper that has green coloring and a mild taste, this tree produces red berries. Other names include the false pepper, American pepper, or the California pepper tree. It’s an evergreen tree species that gives you smaller berries in a red hue that have a surprisingly peppery taste to them. The identifying features on this tree are the fern-like pinnate leaves with small white flowers. It also has smaller berry-like drupes that produce pink woody seeds or peppery red seeds. The fruit trees can grow in very large clusters and produce the berries all year-round in warmer environments.
Since it’s capable of producing red berries all year round, it shouldn’t surprise you that it prefers to be in very arid and hot environments. You can find it growing in California, Texas, Florida, Louisiana, and Arizona. It’s also popular in Australia, Peru, and South Africa. The berries from this tree are considered safe for you to eat. However, younger children can get an upset stomach if they eat a decent amount of the fruits in one sitting, so monitor them.
9. American Holly Tree
Another very popular tree that produces red berries is the American Holly. This tree is an evergreen variety that produces very toxic berries with a brilliant red hue and jaggy, glossy leaves. This is the cuttings that you’ll find virtually everywhere during the Christmas season as it makes a very eye-catching centerpiece for the home. This particular species of holly can get very large, and it can easily top out at almost 100-feet tall. So, you really do have to plan accordingly when you plant it in your yard. It needs plenty of space to grow without getting crowded by structures or other plants.
However, the leaves on this tree keep their deep green coloring with the glossy look all year-round, so they’re a great addition to any yard or garden that routinely gets snow once a year. The red berries provide splashes of color when little else is growing too, so it makes a nice addition. However, just like any other berry from the IIex genus, they are toxic if humans were to consume them. You should leave them alone. Birds can eat the berries without an issue, but they can make you very sick.
10. Hawthorn Trees
The hawthorn tree is slightly smaller, and this makes it very popular in gardens and smaller landscape designs. They do have very thorny branches on them, so you do have to be careful when you work around it. They also produce red berries. Other common names for this small tree include the mayhaw, thornapple, quickthorn, and the hawberry. They do best in temperate climates, so it’s not uncommon to see this tree growing throughout the world. As a bonus, you can also eat the red berries that this tree produces. However, just like apples, you want to avoid the seeds because they can be toxic.
The features that most people will recognize on this type of tree are the short trunks. They also have very distinctive branches that spread out with leaves that get spiral arrangements on the shoots. Also, the tree’s red fruits can look like berries but they’re not. The fruit is actually a pome. So, they look very similar to how a tiny miniature apple would look rather than a rounded berry. Each tree will produce a nice amount of berries that you can pick and use however you like or eat raw.
11. Red Berry Mistletoe
Mistletoe is another plant that will produce very poisonous red berries that you want to avoid. However, it’s important to note that this plant isn’t a berry-producing tree or shrub. Instead, this plant is an actual type of parasitic plant. You’ll find it growing on shrubs and trees and leaching off them. It’s usually easy to spot the plant growing decently high up on trees, and many people mistakenly think that it’s a birds’ nest. It’s very rarely by the ground because it prefers to be much higher up in the branches of very tall trees. So, unless you have tall shrubs, you may not see it.
You’ll see smooth, small oval green leaves with small red berries. The berries do grow in smaller clusters of two to six berries each. A lot of people are very familiar with the European mistletoe species, and this plant features small green leaves and whtie berries. It’s also very popular in Christmas decorations. There is usually an upright growth manner with this parasitic plant, and it likes partial shade with a little sun every day.
Cotoneaster is a very popular type of evergreen shrub used in landscaping designs where people want color and visual interest all year-round, including when it snows and freezes. It produces masses of dull red berries that can look very attractive. However, the berries on this plant are very highly toxic. You never want to consume them as they can make you extremely sick. Most species of this evergreen shrub are on the smaller side, and the heights range from 1.6-feet up to 16-feet tall at full maturity. Since there is such a height range, make sure you have space for the plant you pick out.
The red berries this shrub produces mimics the look of cranberry clusters. The leaves can have a range of shapes to them too, ranging from oval to lanceolate. Also, the leaves can be larger and get up to 6-inches long, depending on the shrub species. Most species willo produce thick masses of toxic red berries. However, the berry color can also be black, orange, scarlet-red, or pink. This is why you want to do a lot of research before you pick one out. You want something to be visually appealing and match your space.
13. Tatarian Honeysuckle Bush
The tatarian honeysuckle bush will produce a host of bright red berries, but you should never eat them. You can easily identify this bushy shrub by the dark green but dull leaves. They have an oval shape, and the shrub also produces tubular white to pink flowers. The flowers create a very visually-appealing look for your yard, especially in the early summer and late spring months. Since the leaves are darker and dull, the flowers really stand out and contrast against them.
LIke many shrub species in the honeysuckle family, it’s a very large flowering bush that is oval-shaped. It can easily get between 9 and 12-feet tall with the correct growing conditions. It also has a very large spread to it, so you want to ensure that you give it plenty of room to spread out when you plant it or it’ll crowd whatever you have by it. This shrub also has a very vigorous growth habit, so many people do consider it to be an invasive species. The red berries are toxic to humans, even though they look juicy and full. Accidentally ingesting these berries can lead to abdominal cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea.
Barberry is one low-maintenance plant that is easy to maintain, so it’s a favorite with beginner gardeners. This is a shrub that you can easily find growing in most parts of the world. It gets covered with smaller red berries. Also, you should note that some species are evergreen and some are deciduous. You can identify this plant by the long shoots that it puts out, and they can get up to an impressive 13-feet tall with the correct growing conditions. The shoots also produce very small oval green leaves that grow in very tight clusters along the shoots.
This plant will produce bright yellow flowers in the early spring months, and these flowers contrast nicely with the darker foliage. Once the flowers give way, oblong red berries will take their place. The berries can be up to a centimeter long when they’re fully mature. It is possible to eat these bright red berries straight from the plant, but they do have an extremely sour taste. They’re better sweetened up and used in dessert dishes like pies or cobblers. A single plant can produce an impressive amount of berries, so you don’t need a lot of them to make an impact.
15. Cornelian Cherry Dogwood
The final tree that produces red berries on the list is the Cornelian Cherry Dogwood. Dogwood is a very large shrub that flowers and produces long green leaves. You’ll get smaller yellow flowers in the spring and early summer months before it produces a lot of berry-like drupes on the branches. The small red berries are very shiny, and they have the same shape that a coffee bean does. When they’re ripe and you eat them, you’ll get a cross between a very sour cherry and a cranberry, so a lot of people can’t handle eating them straight off the tree without sweetening them.
Dogwood trees are native to countries in Southwestern Asia and Southern Europe. A single tree can easily get between 16 and 40-feet tall. They usually don’t have a huge spread to them though. The leaves are oblong or oval, and they can easily measure up to four-inches long and 1.5-inches wide. As a bonus, once this tree establishes itself, it doesn’t need a lot of work for you to keep it healthy, thriving, and producing a hoard of sour berries.
These 15 shrubs or trees all produce red berries. We noted which ones are safe for you to consume and which ones you want to avoid due to the berry toxicity. You can take this list and decide which ones would work well in your planting zone and landscape design. Try to match the plants that fit your space well, and that won’t accidentally take over and compete with your other plants. Doing so will help you get a balanced and beautiful yard or garden all year-round with healthy plants.
Jen is a master gardener, interior designer and home improvement expert. She has completed many home improvement, decor and remodeling projects with her family over the past 10 years on their 4,500 sf Victorian house. She is also a passionate farmer who keeps goats, chickens, turkeys cows and pigs on her farm, and an instructor for her community’s Organic and Sustainable Farming project.