Monday, September 30, 2013

Red Berries

My many recent trips up the lane revealed a new treasure.  The bush has clearly been in this location for several years but it has never before been seen in this stage.  Having absolutely no idea as to the shrub's identity, I asked the resident expert for help.  With several of her books in hand, she soon had the name of this plant.  Winterberry or Black Alder, Ilex verticillata, is a member of the holly family.  It occurs as either male or female typical of members of this family.

I have in the past noticed this plant in bloom.  Its tiny white flowers never drew me down over the bank for a closer look.  These bright red berries are certainly an attention getter but it still took several days before I remembered the camera.  This generous set of fruit, female behavior, suggests that there may be a male nearby.  A large wet area adjacent to the road may be home to more of these plants.  We will need to take a closer look.

The identity of these red berries remains unknown to us.  Two withered leaves can be seen still attached to the stem that carries the berries.  This mystery plant grows among the wintergreen plants.  I remember seeing a plant growing with the wintergreen but I made no attempt to identify it.  Now there is the choice of searching for earlier photos of this area or waiting until Spring when the green growth is visible.

A simpler choice is to search the blog for the post when this area was first discovered.  The picture suggests that the unknown plant may be False Solomon's Seal.  We will still have to return next year to try to see this plant in flower.  The plant's fragrant white flowers should make identification more certain.

Despite the rather large size of this wintergreen patch, a long search revealed this solitary berry.  The berries are eaten by numerous wild creatures but the neighbor's three dogs live very close to these plants.  I would expect that the canine presence would keep the wild animals away.  For some reason the flowers were few in number this year so the berries would necessarily be scarce.  Resisting temptation, I chewed on neither berry nor leaf.  Some of those leaves look wet and there has been no recent rain.  It was not just a moral judgement to let the plant parts remain unpicked.

No comments: