Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Berry Flowers of the Northwest

We went for a walk Sunday afternoon, took the binoculars and camera. We almost never leave the house without them anymore. We didn't take the short drive to our favorite walk along the bay, but decided to just walk out our door and through the sparsely populated neighborhood woods and trails to the cliff above Chimacum Creek.

We found the berry flowers blooming in abundance right now. We saw four different kinds of berries, three natives (salmonberry, thimbleberry, and pacific blackberry), and one extremely invasive species from Europe (himalayan blackberry). Here's a surprise-- all of these species are in the rose family (Rosaceae). Who knew?


salmonberry

Salmonberry (Rubus spectabilis) -- this beautiful native of the northwest is a relative of the raspberry and blackberry. It produces a large orange to red (salmon) berry in late spring. The fruits have been an important, traditional food source for Native Americans, one which is still collected today. The fruits are readily eaten by a variety of birds and mammals. The early blooming flowers are an important food source for insects and hummingbirds. The twigs, stems, and leaves are all grazed by browsers such as deer. Salmonberry thickets provide important escape and nesting habitat for many birds. Salmonberry is also a useful shrub for landscape use in wetland areas.



thimbleberry



thimbleleaf

Thimbleberry (Rubus parviflurus)--the scarlet fruits are fleshy berries with many seeds which separate from their pith in a thimble or hemispherical shape. The thimble-like fruits are like soft, fuzzy raspberries, and are often eaten by songbirds, upland gamebirds, and many mammals. The leaves and twigs are grazed by browsers such as deer. Thimbleberry is often found in thickets where it provides excellent protection and nesting for birds.


pacificberry



nativeleaf

Pacific blackberry (Rubus ursinus) this is the small native blackberry
that ranges from Baja to British Columbia and into Idaho. This is the parent of Loganberry, Youngberry, and Boysenberry. Its flower is easily distinguished from the invasive himalayan by its rounder petals, and its stem is much thinner than thick and thorny stem of the himalayan.


himalayanberry



himalayan leaf



himalayan tangle



himalayan vine
The himalayan blackberry (Rubus discolor, R. procerus or R. fruticosa) readily invades riparian areas, forest edges, oak woodlands, meadows, roadsides, clear-cuts and any other relatively open area, including all open forest types. Once it becomes well established, HBB out competes low stature native vegetation and can prevent establishment of shade intolerant trees (such as Douglas fir, ponderosa pine and Oregon white oak), leading to the formation of apparently permanent HBB thickets with little other vegetation present. The resulting dense thickets can limit movement of large animals from meadow to forest and vice versa, reducing the utility of small openings and meadows as foraging areas. Although the fruit is widely consumed by native animals, and some butterflies use HBB, it is a poor functional replacement for a diverse native forest understory, meadow or riparian floodplain.

That's what the neighborhood looks like these days. It's going to be a very sweet and yummy summer, even if we do have to whack back invasive vines all summer long.

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