Nannyberry is grown as a large shrub or a small tree, with dark green leaves. In fall they turn to a showy maroon-red. Dense and multiple-stemmed, when trained as a single-stem/tree form, removing suckers is work, and the shrub will lose its vigor maintained this way. A good edible choice, providing food for people and wildlife, as well as fall color. A useful native selection for a permaculture landscape, or any hedge or garden, adding 3-season interest.
Naturally occurring in woodlands and wood edges, a great choice for naturalizing, and salt tolerant. Attracts bees, birds, and pollinators. Creamy white flower clusters are borne on one-year-old branches, 2 to 3½ inches across, and are creamy white. Makes an excellent cut flower.
Edible fruits are also known as wild raisin because overripe fruits look like raisins. The flavor is described as having hints of banana, prunes, and raisins, with a slight spice. Fruits are eaten off the bush when ripe, dried for snacks, and used in desserts, purees, jams, and fruit leather. Nannyberry is also known as sheepberry. Fruits are green at first, ripening to a reddish-purple, then darkening to blue-black. Fruit is juicy and contains one seed.
The plant has other medicinal uses as well.