Your yard isn’t yours alone; it’s a space you share with local wildlife. That means that when choosing plants, it’s important to go beyond aesthetics and look for ones that also create a comfortable habitat for the animals and insects in your area.

Nancy Lawson, naturalist and author of The Humane Gardener: Nurturing a Backyard Habitat for Wildlife, says that planting a variety of different species is one cornerstone of the wildlife-friendly garden. “If you have a lot of plants for all the animals, it takes the pressure off any one particular food source,” she tells me from her home garden in central Maryland, over the chatter of busy birds in the background.

When it comes to planting edibles, there are many ways to branch out beyond your classic tomatoes and herbs to create a thriving garden that both you and your visitors will enjoy noshing on. Here are a few unique edible plants that Lawson—and her local critters—love.

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