berry berry nice

After my previous post about berries, I realized that I needed to do a bit more photographing and research and then write another post to correct my mistakes. A do-over is a blessed thing, and I intend to make full use of it.

As my master-gardener friend Mary pointed out to me, I had misnamed the red berries I found as rose hips. They were not rose hips. They were berries from barberry bushes. If you didn’t know already, barberry is an invasive species, meaning that unknowingly and unwittingly someone bought some of these plants from the nursery planted them around the house and through the natural way of dispersion (squirrels, birds, wind) the bushed spread to the wild area down by my stream. I will admit it, I have actually done this myself, before I knew they were invasive. There are six or so bronze barberry bushes at my old house and, I’m sure, several that have planted themselves in the woods behind it. I also admit to this having been a bit of a sentimental thing, my grandmother’s horse farm was called Barberry Farm. But I digress.

I have provided pictures of both the rose hips from the multiflora rose and the berries from the barberry bushes. I have found three things that helps to differentiate between the two. One is the color, the rose hips are a much darker red. Two, the rose hips have a black thingie on the bottom and three the barberry is not perfectly round.

multiflora rose hips
multiflora rose hips
bright red barberry
bright red barberry
bronze barberry leaves
bronze barberry leaves

Okay, now I have to say mea culpa. My friend Pat who happens to be the vegetable gardener at Monticello and knows a LOT about the natural world tried to tell me that the yellow covered red berries that I posted on Facebook were the invasive kind of bittersweet. I blithely pooh poohed her and said I was very sure it was not. Well, I was wrong…again. I have the invasive Oriental bittersweet by my stream. It’s so very beautiful to look at right now it is hard to believe that it is a plant that could destroy all vegetation in this little area but given some time it could do that quite easily.

red surrounded by yellow
red surrounded by yellow
yellow and red make orange
yellow and red make orange

And finally, on my walkabout to gather the TRUTH, I found another mystery. I think I have solved it but I am learning my lesson. I make no promises on this blog that I am right about anything until I have heard from the masters. Here is another bunch of berries, both red and purple/black that are too far stuck into the muck of the stream bed for me to get to and observe closely. So I have to rely on my camera to get pictures that will help me to identify the plant(s). I think what I am looking at are two kinds of Chokeberry. It comes in two colors and is actually a native of the area (yay!). Otherwise, the red berry might be Winterberry. Anybody out there got an opinion or a fact???

purple and red
purple and red
can't tell what the bush looks like
can’t tell what the bush looks like

So I am left with a couple of thoughts. One is that I wish that people would think twice before bringing plants from other countries or even other regions of this country and planting them. I look at my little woods and I can quickly and easily identify five plants that are non-native invasives…this doesn’t count the bugs that are taking over too. And yet…I do enjoy seeing the beauty of some of these plants, it is kinda cool to see the yellow and red of the bittersweet or smell the sweet perfume of the honeysuckle. I also know that these plants do sometimes feed the local population of birds which is one reason why they are so invasive. The birds who eat in one place, poop in another and voilà, the seeds have a new home to grow in.

songbird
songbird

I also wish that nurseries were more aware of the dangers of some of these plants. You can still buy barberry at some of the more respected nurseries around, and because people buy them, they sell them. At least that is the answer I get when I ask why they still sell them. Seems a little backwards to me but then again, I am not in the business of selling plants.

Sometimes it takes a while for common sense and knowledge to filter down to the masses.

 

7 thoughts on “berry berry nice

  1. All nurseries should display a list of invasive plants and refuse to sell them. I have planted things by mistake that are considered invasive for our area and then had a terrible task removing them. Darwin’s Barberry is an invasive plant in NZ, as is Japanese honeysuckle.

    1. I agree. I have planted barberry and Japanese honeysuckle in the past and now I wish I hadn’t. My property here is covered in honeysuckle…smells divine for a week but the rest of the time it just chokes the trees. Ugh.

  2. Inspired by your post I started learning a little about barberries since I had no idea how invasive they were. Seems that in forests, where they crowd out everything else, they dramatically increase the possibility of Lyme ticks too!

  3. No idea what the red and purple/blue berries are. I’m curious to find out.

    Yes, Oriental bittersweet is invasive. We have it here in huge amounts. It climbs up tress strangling them. Then the weight of the bittersweet breaks the tops off trees during storms creating weakened and ultimately dead trees. It’s a mess. Bob has spent countless hours clearing our trees and those in the near-by woods of the vines. He’s taken many, many loads of vines to the dump. I, too, love the look of the vines when in fruit, especially as a holiday decoration. Good reason to cut them down and use as decoration, so that the seeds don’t get back into nature. Just trash the vines (or seeds) after the holiday. Just don’t compost them!

    1. Mary, I was counting on you to tell me about the berries, damn. Today is supposed to be the last beautiful day in a while, maybe I will go down and cut some bittersweet. I can throw it in the wood stove when I’m done.

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