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Wednesday, September 2, 2009
It was a fantastic year for the plants to produce berries, both edible and otherwise! Here are just a few from our hikes. One of the best treats of the far northwoods are thimbleberries, Rubus parviflorus. They have huge leaves and the soft red berries grow above the leaves. The berries are so soft that to pick and collect them is difficult, but eating them right off the bushes is great! This year's crop was rich and juicy. Yum! We also enjoyed lots of red raspberries and blueberries.
Solomon's Seal, Polygonatum biflorum, is a wildflower with inconspicuous green blossoms that hang below the leaves in spring. Each blossom turns into a red berry, but most years there aren't very many berries. What a surprise this year! There were so many berries that they just glowed through the leaves at a distance. Some other parts of the plant have been used medicinally, but the berries aren't really edible.
The last two pictures are plants that are cousins. In fact, they are both named Baneberries. "Bane" means death, and indeed, the berries are very poisonous. They can stop the heart muscle. I don't know any way to tell the leaves apart, and they both have white blossoms, although the shape of each blossom is different, so at that point the rounder cluster will have red berries, and the elongated clusters will become the white berries or "doll's eyes." The Red Baneberry is Actaea rubra, and the Doll's Eyes- you can see why they are called that! is Actaea pachypoda.