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Berries by Walter De la Mare

Published April 5, 2012 by myberriesfarm

Photo by Solmaz Hafezi

Photo by Solmaz Hafezi

There was an old woman Went blackberry picking Along the hedges From Weep to Wicking. – Half a pottle- No more she had got, When out steps a Fairy From her green grot; And says, ‘Well, Jill, Would ‘ee pick ee mo?’ And Jill, she curtseys, And looks just so. Be off,’ says the Fairy, ‘As quick as you can, Over the meadows To the little green lane That dips to the hayfields Of Farmer Grimes: I’ve berried those hedges A score of times; Bushel on bushel I’ll promise’ee, Jill, This side of supper If’ee pick with a will.’ She glints very bright, And speaks her fair; Then lo, and behold! She had faded in air.

Be sure Old Goodie She trots betimes Over the meadows To Farmer Grimes. And never was queen With jewelry rich As those same hedges From twig to ditch; Like Dutchmen‘s coffers, Fruit, thorn, and flower – They shone like William And Mary’s bower. And be sure Old Goodie Went back to Weep, So tired with her basket She scarce could creep.

Photo by Solmaz Hafezi

Photo by Solmaz Hafezi

When she comes in the dusk To her cottage door, There’s Towser wagging As never before, To see his Missus So glad to be Come from her fruit-picking Back to he. As soon as next morning Dawn was grey, The pot on the hob Was simmering away; And all in a stew And a hugger-mugger Towser and Jill A-boiling of sugar, And the dark clear fruit That from Faerie came, For syrup and jelly And blackberry jam.

Twelve jolly gallipots Jill put by; And one little teeny one, One inch high; And that she’s hidden A good thumb deep, Half way over From Wicking to Weep

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Published April 5, 2012 by myberriesfarm
Berberis in Fellows' GardenPhoto by Solmaz Hafezi

Berberis ( /ˈbɜrbərɪs/ Bér-be-ris), the barberries, is a genus of about 450-500 species of deciduous and evergreen shrubs from 1-5 m tall with thorny shoots, native to the temperate and subtropical regions of Europe, Asia, Africa, North America and South America. They are closely related to the genus Mahonia, which is included within Berberis by some botanists. Species diversity is greatest in South America, Africa and Asia; Europe has a few species, and North America only two.

The genus Berberis is characterised by dimorphic shoots, with long shoots which form the structure of the plant, and short shoots only 1-2 mm long. The leaves on long shoots are non-photosynthetic, developed into three-spined thorns 3-30 mm long; the bud in the axil of each thorn-leaf then develops a short shoot with several normal, photosynthetic leaves. These leaves are 1-10 cm long, simple, and either entire, or with spiny margins. Only on young seedlings do leaves develop on the long shoots, with the adult foliage style developing after the young plant is 1-2 years old.

Many deciduous species, such as Berberis thunbergii or B. vulgaris, are noted for their attractive pink or red autumn colour. In some evergreen species from China, such as B. candidula or B. verruculosa), the leaves are brilliant white beneath, a feature valued horticulturally. Some horticultural variants of B. thunbergii have dark red to violet foliage.

The flowers are produced singly or in racemes of up to 20 on a single flower-head. They are yellow or orange, 3-6 mm long, with six sepals and six petals in alternating whorls of three, the sepals usually coloured like the petals. The fruit is a small berry 5-15 mm long, ripening red or dark blue, often with a pink or violet waxy surface bloom; in some species, they may be either long and narrow (like a bar, hence ‘barberry’), but are spherical in other species.

Berberis species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species, including a moth, the Mottled Pug.

Berberis vulgaris (European barberry) and Berberis canadensis (American barberry) serve as alternate host species of the wheat rust fungus (Puccinia graminis), a grass-infecting rust fungus that is a serious fungal disease of wheat and related grains. For this reason, cultivation of B. vulgaris is prohibited in many areas, and imports to the United States are forbidden. The North American B. canadensis, native to Appalachia and the Midwest United States, was nearly eradicated for this reason, and is now rarely seen extant, with the most remaining occurrences in the Virginia mountains.

Some Berberis species have become invasive when planted outside of their native ranges, including B. glaucocarpa and B. darwinii in New Zealand (where it is now banned from sale and propagation), and green-leaved B. thunbergii in much of the eastern United States.

Dansk: Berberis vulgaris: Blomsterstand og løv...

Dansk: Berberis vulgaris: Blomsterstand og løv (med rust) English: Berberis vulgaris: Flowers and foliage (with rust) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Photo by Solmaz Hafezi

CultivationSeveral species of Berberis are popular garden shrubs, grown for such features as ornamental leaves, yellow flowers, or red or blue-black berries. Low-growing Berberis plants are also commonly planted as pedestrian barriers. Taller-growing species are valued for crime prevention; being very dense, viciously spiny shrubs, they make very effective barriers impenetrable to burglars. For this reason they are often planted below potentially vulnerable windows, and used as hedges.

Culinary usesThe berries are edible, and rich in vitamin C, with a very sharp flavour. The thorny shrubs make harvesting them difficult. Berries are often used in Middle Eastern and European rice pilaf recipes. They are an important food for many small birds, which disperse the seeds in their droppings.

A widely available Ukrainian, Russian, Estonian and Lithuanian candy called Барбарис (Barbaris) is made using extract from the berries, which are commonly pictured on the candy wrappers. Confiture d’épinette was a traditional sweet of Rouen.

CalafateBerberis microphylla or the similar Berberis heterophylla (both known as Calafate), and Berberis darwinii (Michay) are two species found in Patagonia in Argentina and Chile. Their edible purple fruits are used for jams and infusions; anyone who tries a berry is said to be certain to return to Patagonia. The calafate and michay are symbols of Patagonia.

ZereshkZereshk (زرشک) is the Persian name for the dried fruit of Berberis vulgaris, which are widely cultivated in Iran. Iran is the largest producer of zereshk and saffron in the world. Zereshk and saffron are produced on the same land and the harvest is at the same time.

Berberis vulgaris

Berberis vulgaris (Photo credit: color line)

Berberis vulgaris Photo by Solmaz Hafezi

The South Khorasan province in Iran is the main area of zereshk and saffron production in the world. Barberry cultivation in Iran is concentrated in the South Khorasan province, especially around Birjand and Qaen. About 85% of production is in Qaen and about 15% in Birjand. According to evidence the cultivation of seedless barberry in South Khorasan goes back to two hundred years ago.

A garden of zereshk is called zereshk-estan.

Zereshk is widely used in cooking, imparting a tart flavor to chicken dishes. It is usually cooked with rice, called zereshk poloRecipe, and provides a nice meal with chicken. Zereshk jamphoto, zereshk juicephoto, and zereshk fruit rolls are also produced in Iran.

In colloquial Persian, zereshk is used as a term for showing dissent or disagreement, similar to the usage of “blowing a raspberry” in English. Although not a vulgar term in that context, it is not used in polite speech.


Published April 5, 2012 by myberriesfarm
SambucusPhoto by Solmaz Hafezi

Sambucus (elder or elderberry) is a genus of between 5 and 30 species of shrubs or small trees in the moschatel family, Adoxaceae. It was formerly placed in the honeysuckle family, Caprifoliaceae, but was reclassified due to genetic evidence. Two of its species are herbaceous.

The genus is native in temperate-to-subtropical regions of both the Northern Hemisphere and the Southern Hemisphere. It is more widespread in the Northern Hemisphere; its Southern Hemisphere occurrence is restricted to parts of Australasia and South America.

The leaves are pinnate with 5–9 leaflets (rarely 3 or 11). Each leaf is 5–30 cm (2.0–12 in) long, and the leaflets have serrated margins. They bear large clusters of small white or cream-colored flowers in late spring; these are followed by clusters of small black, blue-black, or red berries (rarely yellow or white).

The black-berried elder complex is variously treated as a single species Sambucus nigra found in the warmer parts of Europe and North America with several regional varieties or subspecies, or else as a group of several similar species. The flowers are in flat corymbs, and the berries are black to glaucous blue; they are larger shrubs, reaching 3–8 m (9.8–26 ft) tall, occasionally small trees up to 15 m (49 ft) tall and with a stem diameter of up to 30–60 cm (12–24 in).

Ripe elderberriesThe flowers of Sambucus nigra are used to produce elderflower cordial. The French, Austrians and Central Europeans produce elderflower syrup, commonly made from an extract of elderflower blossoms, which is added to pancake (Palatschinken) mixes instead of blueberries. People throughout much of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe use a similar method to make a syrup which is diluted with water and used as a drink. Based on this syrup, Fanta markets a soft drink variety called “Shokata” which is sold in 15 countries worldwide. In the United States, this French elderflower syrup is used to make elderflower marshmallows. St-Germain, a French liqueur, is made from elderflowers. Hallands Fläder, a Swedish akvavit, is flavoured with elderflowers.

Sambucus nigra, Adoxaceae, Elder, Elderberry, ...

Sambucus nigra, Adoxaceae, Elder, Elderberry, Black Elder, European Elder, European Elderberry, European Black Elderberry, Common Elder, Elder Bush, inflorescence. Karlsruhe, Germany. Deutsch: Sambucus nigra, Adoxaceae, Schwarzer Holunder, Holderbusch, Holler, Infloreszenz. Karlsruhe, Deutschland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Photo by Solmaz Hafezi

The Italian liqueur Sambuca is flavoured with oil obtained from the elderflower.

Wines, cordials and marmalade have been produced from the berries or flowers. Fruit pies and relishes are produced with berries. In Italy (especially in Piedmont) and Germany, the umbels of the elderberry are batter coated, fried and then served as a dessert or a sweet lunch with a sugar and cinnamon topping.

Hollowed elderberry twigs have traditionally been used as spiles to tap maple trees for syrup.

Ornamental varieties of Sambucus are grown in gardens for their showy flowers, fruits and lacy foliage.

Native species of elderberry are often planted by people wishing to support native butterfly and bird species.

Black elderberry has been used medicinally for hundreds of years. Flavanoids from Sambucus nigra appear to inhibit the infectiousness of H1N1 flu virions in vitro. A 1995 study found: “A complete cure was achieved within 2 to 3 days in nearly 90% of the SAM-treated group and within at least 6 days in the placebo group (p < 0.001). No satisfactory medication to cure influenza type A and B is available. Considering the efficacy of the extract in vitro on all strains of influenza virus tested, the clinical results, its low cost, and absence of side-effects, this preparation could offer a possibility for safe treatment for influenza A and B.” A small study published in 2004 showed that 93% of flu patients given elderberry extract were completely symptom-free within two days; those taking a placebo recovered in about six days. A 2009 study found that the H1N1 inhibition activities of the elderberry flavonoids compare favorably to the known anti-influenza activities of Oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and Amantadine. A 2004 study found that symptoms of influenza A and B virus infections were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo. The study stated, “Elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza. These findings need to be confirmed in a larger study”. Elderberries were well known to Native American medicine people, who described the fruit as “strengthening the inner warrior”.

A 2001 study entitled “The effect of Sambucol, a black elderberry-based, natural product, on the production of human cytokines: I. Inflammatory cytokines” concluded: “We conclude from this study that, in addition to its antiviral properties, Sambucol Elderberry Extract and its formulations activate the healthy immune system by increasing inflammatory cytokine production. Sambucol might therefore be beneficial to the immune system activation and in the inflammatory process in healthy individuals or in patients with various diseases. Sambucol could also have an immunoprotective or immunostimulatory effect when administered to cancer or AIDS patients, in conjunction with chemotherapeutic or other treatments. In view of the increasing popularity of botanical supplements, such studies and investigations in vitro, in vivo and in clinical trials need to be developed.”

A Modern Herbal by Mrs. M. Grieve suggests several elderberry syrup recipes:

To make Elderberry Rob [syrup], 5 lb. of fresh ripe, crushed berries are simmered with 1 lb. of loaf sugar and the juice evaporated to the thickness of honey. It is cordial, aperient and diuretic. One or two tablespoonsful mixed with a tumblerful of hot water, taken at night, promotes perspiration and is demulcent to the chest. The Rob when made can be bottled and stored for the winter. Herbalists sell it ready for use.

‘Syrup of Elderberries’ is made as follows: Pick the berries when throughly ripe from the stalks and stew with a little water in a jar in the oven or pan. After straining, allow 1/2 oz. of whole ginger and 18 cloves to each gallon. Boil the ingredients an hour, strain again and bottle. The syrup is an excellent cure for a cold. To about a wineglassful of Elderberry syrup, add hot water, and if liked, sugar.

MusicBranches from the Elder are also used to make the Fujara, Koncovka and other uniquely Slovakian flutes.

The leaves, twigs, branches, seeds and roots contain a cyanide-inducing glycoside (a glycoside which gives rise to cyanide as the metabolism processes it). Ingesting any of these parts in sufficient quantity can cause a toxic build up of cyanide in the body.

Due to the possibility of cyanide poisoning, children should be discouraged from making whistles, slingshots or other toys from elderberry wood. In addition, “herbal teas” made with elderberry leaves (which contain cyanogenic glycosides) should be treated with high caution. However, ripe berries (pulp and skin) are safe to eat.

EcologyThe berries are a very valuable food resource for many birds. In Northern California elderberries are a favorite food for migrating Band-Tailed Pigeons. Flocks can strip an entire bush in less than an hour. Elders are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Brown-tail, Buff Ermine, Dot Moth, Emperor Moth, the Engrailed, Swallow-tailed Moth and the V-pug. The crushed foliage and immature fruit have a strong fetid smell.

Valley elderberry longhorn beetle in California are very often found around red or blue elderberry bushes. Females lay their eggs on the bark. Larvae hatch and burrow into the stems.

Dead elder wood is the preferred habitat of the mushroom Auricularia auricula-judae, also known as “Judas’ ear fungus“.

The pith of elder has been used by watchmakers for cleaning tools before intricate work.

Folklore is extensive and can be wildly conflicting depending on region.

In some areas, the “elder tree” was supposed to ward off evil influence and give protection from witches, while other beliefs say that witches often congregate under the plant, especially when it is full of fruit.

In some regions, superstition, religious belief, or tradition prohibits the cutting of certain trees for bonfires, most notably in witchcraft customs the elderberry tree; “Elder be ye Lady’s tree, burn it not or cursed ye’ll be” – A rhyme from the Wiccan rede.

If an elder tree was cut down, a spirit known as the Elder Mother would be released and take her revenge. The tree could only safely be cut while chanting a rhyme to the Elder Mother.

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Published April 5, 2012 by myberriesfarm
Vitis labrucsa grape Concord

Vitis labrucsa grape Concord (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Image via Wikipedia

Grapes are one of the oldest cultivated plants. They are classified as true berries because the fruit wall or pericarp is fleshy all the way through. The cultivation of grapes dates back more than 5,000 years in Egypt, and they were highly developed by the Greeks and Romans. Today there are nearly 200 cultivated varieties. Modern cultivars have all been derived from two main species, the European (Mediterranean) Vitis vinifera (a tight-skin grape with wine-like flavor) and the North American V. labrusca (a slip-skin grape with Concord-type flavor). In the European tight-skins, which are used for wines, the skin does not separate readily from the pulp. North American slip-skin grapes are generally more hardy than the European. The fruit is round with a more watery flesh and a thin skin that slips off very easily. The North American V. labrusca is also called the fox grape and is the source of the famous cultivar discovered in Concord, Massachusetts. Concord grapes are the most important American grape for juices, jellies and preserves. They are also used for certain wines. Some of the best wines and popular eating grapes, such as ‘Thompson Seedless’ and ‘Red Seedless’ are cultivars of V. vinifera. Sterile, triploid cultivars have been developed that do not produce seeds because of synaptic failure during Meiosis I resulting in non-viable gametes. Several varieties of grapes are dried and used for raisins. The best raisin grapes are selected for flavor, reduced stickiness and soft texture. In the United States, most raisins are produced in California’s Central Valley.

Concord grapes are used for jellies, jams and juices. Jellies are made from fruit juice, pectin and sugar. Jams contain the actual crushed fruit.

Thompson seedless (sultana) grapes

Thompson seedless (sultana) grapes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Image via Wikipedia

The fermentation of grapes is brought about through the action of wild yeasts which are present on the skins of the fruit (whitish powder). The maximum alcoholic content of natural wines is about 12 to 16% (24 to 32 proof). Higher alcoholic content will kill the yeast cells. Brandy is made from distilled wines and has a much higher alcoholic content (up to 140 proof). Red wines are made from grapes with colored skins (with anthocyanin), while white wines are made from white grapes (or red grapes with skins removed). In dry wines the sugar is almost completely fermented. In sweet wines fermentation is stopped before all the sugar is converted. Viticulture (the cultivation of grapes) and enology (the study of wine making) are enormous topics beyond the scope of this section of WAYNE’S WORD. They are discussed in more detail in the required textbook for Plants and People (Botany 115).

Two popular varieties of seedless grapes in California: ‘Thompson Seedless’ (left) and delicious ‘Red Flame’ (right). Grapes are considered a true berry because the entire pericarp (fruit wall) is fleshy.

A native California wild grape (Vitis girdiana) that grows in canyon bottoms and along streams in southern California. This species often forms massive vines that drape over large trees such as coast live oak (Quercus agrifolia). It intergrades with the very similar V. californica of central and northern California. Unlike the tight-skin V. vinifera of Europe, this is a slip-skin grape in which the skin readily slips off of the juicy, seed-bearing pulp (see arrow).

For years it has been known that people in France who consume red wines on a regular basis have a reduced risk of coronary heart disease compared with the United States. This data is paradoxical considering that the French also consume a lot of fatty foods, such as pastries. A phenolic compound in the grape skins called resveratrol was discovered that seems to inhibit the plaque build-up or clogging of arteries (atherosclerosis) by increasing the level of high density lipoproteins (HDLs) in the blood. Beneficial HDLs carry cholesterol away from the arteries so that it doesn’t form plaque deposits in the arterial walls. Resveratrol also reduces blood platelet aggregation or clotting (thromboses) within blood vessels. Resveratrol belongs to a class of plant chemicals called phytoalexins. They are used by plants as a defense mechanism in response to attacks by fungi and insects. One interesting phytoalexin called psoralen comes from the leguminous herb Psoralea. It has a chemical structure similar to coumarin. Psoralen has been used in the treatment of certain cancers, including T-cell lymphomas in AIDS patients

The Berry Botanic Garden

Published April 5, 2012 by myberriesfarm
Portland State University

Portland State University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Image via Wikipedia

Advancing the Art and Science of Banking Seeds

In 1983 The Berry Botanic Garden conceived of and built the first seed bank for rare and endangered plants in the USA. The BBG’s conservation program, which operates the seed bank, is known nationally for its expertise in plant conservation methods that involve banking seeds for research and as a safe house for genetic material.

In response to diminishing support for operating a public garden, The Berry Botanic Garden closed its gates to visitors in October, 2010, but its world-famous seed bank continues to serve the conservation community. Better still, it is poised to expand and flourish in a new location. In 2011, the seed bank will relocate to Portland State University-to a new state-of-the art seed vault and plant conservation laboratory.

Relocating the Rae Selling Berry Seed Bank to Portland State University guarantees: A secure future for the oldest seed bank for rare and endangered plants. Expanded research into the science and practice of seed collection, storage and reintroduction. Abundant opportunities to educate Oregon’s future scientists, citizens, and conservationists. An institutional environment where we can explore ways to use seed banks to blunt the effects of global climate change and to better support large scale ecological restoration efforts.

In anticipation of the move to PSU the BBG board of directors launched a fund-raising campaign in 2010 to support the construction of the new seed vault and the establishment of the program at PSU. The board is especially grateful to John Gray for creating the John Gray Oregon Native Plant Conservation Challenge through which $25,000 of matching funds was donated to the Seed Bank Campaign, and which created a powerful motivation for other donors.

You may still join our efforts by contributing generously to the Rae Selling Berry Seed Bank. Donate through PayPal by clicking on the “Donate” button to the right, or call 503-636-4112 ext 102. You may also send checks to:

Seed Bank Campaign The Berry Botanic Garden 11505 SW Summerville Ave Portland, OR 97219