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Wednesday, September 2, 2009



picking thimbleberries

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 berries

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.

red baneberry

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.

white baneberry or doll's eyes


Julia said...

Great fruit pictures. Looks like an awesome botanical adventure.

Ratty said...

I have been trying to learn about the different edible and inedible berries since I started my blog. Sometimes I identify them correctly and sometimes I don't. I'm still at the don't touch anything stage.

•°°• IcyBC •°°• said...

Beautiful berries! I saw some wild strawberries in my yard yesterday, but I don't know if they are edible.

Joe Todd said...

Had never hear of thimbleberries. I don't know if they grow in Ohio. It seems like they should. I wonder if you could use them to make jam?

Sharkbytes said...

Julia- I'm always looking for botanical adventures! But I'm clueless on all your western ones.

Ratty- I bet you know more than you think you do, you just need to start organizing them in your head.

Icy- seems late in the year for strawberries, but then, I don't know where you live!

Joe- Nice to see you! Nope, no thimbleberries in Ohio. Hardly any in lower Michigan. Need to go to the UP or northern MN to find them. They do make yummy jams and pies, but they are so fragile that collecting a bucket full is rough on the ones on the bottom.

rebecca said...

I believe I have seen thimbleberries around my woods. I never knew they were edible though. I always learn so much here!

Sharkbytes said...

Hi rebecca! Ohhh. That is quite a compliment! Thank you. If you are far north, mid to eastern US, you likely have seen them. There is another large-leaved berry called Cloudberry. I'd have to go get out my books to describe the differences.

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