Friday, September 04, 2009

Ok, I've got another one for you. Can anyone tell me what this is?

It's not a bush, more like a small gangling tree, and we have tons of them.


Jessica said...

Hey there, I am thinking your plant may be either one of these Autumn Olive, Hackberry, a type of viburnum called a Black Haw, OR something I don't know! All of the three mentioned are edible!

The autumn olives are introduced to North America and originally from Asia, and are usually found where lots of landscaping has happened and because of its hardiness can thrive and in poor soil so it can be found near beaches, depleted agricultural fields, thickets. The ripe berry is scarlet, about the size of a currant, with tiny grayish-white speckles and small oblong, yellowish seeds inside.

The Hackberry berry varies from orange-brown to dark purple. It's round and small about 1/3rd inch across with a large, round seed inside. Flesh is thin, sweet, and dry. One of the first human ancestor fossils ever unearthed was Java Man (Homo erectus). He had piles of hackberry seeds found in his refuse heaps. It can make a good gargle for sore throats (maybe he sang opera).

If it is the type of Viburnum called Black Haw, then it is a member of the honeysuckle family. There are actually 3 varieties it could be and since you are in Mass., this may be it - the three all grow well in the north and include: northern wild raisins, nannyberries, and black haw. the dark shiny berries are cobered with a powdery bloom. They're somethimes roundish, often oval, and sometimes more flat (that sure does make it confusing!) The best is supposed to be the Black Haw whose berries start out green, turn bright red in late summer and turn blue-black in autumn which is their ripe time. Taste is like dates. Their leaves are about 2 inches long. The nanyberry has a larger leaf - about 2 to 4 inches long and is pointed and finely toothed. These fruits go from green to a ripe black, so this may not be yours since I see some red berries. Lastly, the northern wild raisin's leaves are dull, not leathery like the black haw's and are usually very finely toothed or wavy edged.

Good luck figuring it out and I hope you get to eat it!!!

Rue said...

Wow! Thank you so much for taking the time to give me all that information. It would be amazing if we could eat them. They do start out green, turn red, then turn blue-black, so I'll start out looking at the Black Haw.

christinemm said...

It is not Autumn Olive aka Elaeagnus umbellata. The leaves are wrong, the berry location on the branch is wrong and the color is wrong. Google autumn olive for tons of photos online. I've been foraging those and cooking with them (jam and fruit leather).

I'm trying to figure out if I have wild raisin or black haw, and that is how I navigated to your blog post.

Have a great day!

Rue said...

Hi Christine - Thanks for the info. I still haven't been able to figure out what they are. I'm going to keep an eye on them as the seasons change to see if there are any identifying features that might help.