Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Caution: Do Not Eat!

We went again this year to Elgin Heritage Park to look at the lupins. And they were wonderful, if a bit past their prime. But we walked on, past the lupin fields, to the riverside and the circle tour. And I started noticing pre-prime berries.

Thimbleberries, Rubus parviflorus, just starting to ripen.

Ripe, these thimbleberries will be sweet, as soft as cream pie filling, and a luscious, tempting red. But today, they're hard and hairy. And tasteless; I've tried them.

Twinberries, almost ripe.

The ripe berries are blue-black, growing in paired red calyxes. They're pretty, but I've been told the taste is vile. I haven't dared to try them.

Ripe berry, Lonicera involucrata

Half-ripe red elderberries, Sambucus racemosa.

When we had chickens, I used to harvest these berries when they were bright red; the chickens would race around carrying their prize clump, with others in hot pursuit. The mad scramble didn't die down until there was not a single berry left.

They're not people food, though; maybe not poisonous, but who would ever eat enough to find out? I've tasted one tiny berry and spit it out immediately. They're bitter.

The flowers are edible, and not so bad.

This is a tall shrub, growing up to 6 metres high.

Unidentified fruit. Cherry? Apple? Plum? Best to wait and see how it ripens.

There is a large variety of Prunus lookalikes in this area. Some are edible. Some are palatable. Some are even delicious. (Small, yellow crabapples from Reifel Island Migratory Bird Sanctuary come to mind. Try one - only one; they're for the birds - in late fall.)

Not a berry. Yet. Will be Himalayan blackberry, Rubus armeniacus.

Now, these you can eat! If you don't mind scratched arms and torn pant legs, bring a bucket and pick your winter's supply. They're plentiful and delicious.


  1. Your unknown looks like wild Pacific Crabapple Malus fusca. If that's the case, come the fall the trees will be filled with Cedar Waxwings.

  2. Thanks, Dave. Crabapple sounds about right. We'll have to go back and check in the fall.

  3. Anonymous8:01 am

    I remember searching out and picking elderberries as a child. Mom made the best elderberry jam from them. Probably had to use a lot of sugar but it sure did taste good!601


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