Chicago zone 5a exotic perenials? Maybe European berries

Folks,
We live in suburban Chicago USDA zone 5a and I'm looking to add some sort of exotic perenial to the back yard. Likely something not native to the US. Look strange or have edible fruit if possible. When we lived in Los Angeles zone 9 years ago there were plenty of subtropicals to chose from and I planted a Buddhas Hand Citron. Wonderful aroma from the fruit and they looked strange as well. Doesn't seem like there are a lot of exotics available that do well in zone 5a so I am appealing to the experts. I know that midsummer is likely too late so I may as well start planning for next spring.
I looked through the archives of the group. The FAQ file is about herbs. Check. 3 boxes with assorted herbs are growing in boxes on the railing. The sorrel and that stuff that smells like celery are doing great. Time for a bush or tree or something now. Maybe a heritage variety through a seed purhase.
Scanning through the newsgroup archive for mention of zone 5 it sounds like berries may be the way to go.
Do bilberries do okay in zone 5? I'd need to find a source for plants. I have had bilberry jam and the stuff is to die for, maybe the best berry jam I've had. Bilberry jam is to be found in Polish ethnic stores so zone 5ish seems like it might work.
Do lingonberries do okay in zone 5? I'd need a source for plants. I like lingon berry jam so this sounds like a good option as well.
Any suggestions for a tree rather than a bush? The tree at the corner of the house is getting redy to go so time to think about a replacement that gives nuts or fruit.
I think my most adventurous might be a trellis and some hops. Great excuse to get in good with some local home brewers.
Thanks in advance for any advice, Doug Freyburger
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what soil and light do you have? Bilberry and lingonberry want acid soil. I suppose that if sorrel and rhubarb are thriving you may have acid soil. We have Sherwin Dubren here who knows all about fruit growing in the Chi area. You could try gooseberry too, and of course raspberries are easy. Find them all at Edible Landscaping (they have lingonberry too, though mine never thrived). One way or another, the local birds will thank you.
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simy1 wrote:

So I need to get it tested. Check. My current answer "the soil is made out of dirt" clearly doesn't cut it.

Half acre lot, 3 big maples in back 2 in front, plus a couple of smaller trees growing near the house that don't make much shade. I can plant in sun or partial shade.

Aluminum sulfate in stock already. Thanks.

Thanks for the response!
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simy1 wrote:

Thanks for the reference, but I am more knowledgeable with fruit trees. I do grow raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries, but don't get much into their technicalities. I would suggest that he come to our Harvest Festival at the Morton Arboretum on Oct 15-16 where my fruit growers club Midfex (Midwest Fruit Explorers) will be putting on demos and giving advise on all kinds of fruit and berry growing for this region. He can get more details at www.Midfex.org.

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sherwindu wrote:

It is now on my calendar. See you there! Thanks.
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