Mystery Berries

Autumn Berries

I love to find and photograph berries. They are often as beautiful as the flowers that produced them. I found these berries along the walking trail near the library. I’m not sure what kind of berries they are.

I have a guess, though. I started with the idea that this plant could be wild grape but quickly rejected it. The berries just don’t look that grapey to me, and neither do the leaves (what I can see of them, anyway). I know that wild grape has a poisonous lookalike (Canadian moonseed), so I looked that up. That idea was a bust, too. Moonseed doesn’t have tendrils, and this plant does.

Having just found a vine growing in my own backyard, I decided to research that one, too. It’s a thorny vine, one I’ve seen often in the woods. My son used to call it “prickers and thorms,” as I wrote here and also here (near the end of the post, along with a picture of the thorns in wintertime). My research led me to a candidate that fit for both the berried vine at the library and the thorny one in my backyard: Smilax (a.k.a. greenbriar). Smilax is a vine that has thorns and tendrils and, at this time of year, berries.

There’s only one problem with that identification: there are no obvious thorns showing in the picture of the berries. That’s the problem with trying to identify plants from pictures. A picture rarely captures every part of the plant that’s necessary for identification. But let me show you some pictures of the vine from my yard for comparison.

This is a thorny vine. I know it, because I saw the thorns when I was taking the picture. But, there’s only one obvious thorn showing in this picture (lower right, near the big leaf blemish). So, it would appear that parts of the vine are thorn-free. (BTW, ignore the fruit near the top of the picture. That’s sweet pepperbush, which grows in the same corner of the yard.)
This is a picture of a tendril from the vine. The tendrils themselves are beautiful. Each one is different.

So the good news is that I think I’ve finally identified “prickers and thorms,” as well as the vine in my backyard and the fruit at the library. The bad news is that this plant, though native and therefore not considered invasive, is very aggressive and those thorns can be wicked big and sharp. It’s not an ideal plant for one’s backyard.

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1 Response to Mystery Berries

  1. Pingback: Flower Catalog | Blue-Footed Musings

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