Wiltshire and Swindon Biological Records Centre

ID Guide

September – Wild Fruits

Here are some of Wiltshire’s familiar, and less familiar, wild fruits to look out for when in the countryside this month. Many of the fruits are vividly coloured such as the Spindle, Rosehip and Rowan, but whatever the colour they are irresistible to our wildlife. Fieldfares and Redwings, amongst others, can be spotted picking the berries from hedgerows and gardens. Don't forget to send us in any sightings either via Living Record, or one of our recording forms.

 

Elder berries, Sandy_R @ flickr.com
Elder – Sambucus nigra
Small hedgerow tree with flat clusters of round edible black berries hanging from red stalked stems. The berries are green for some time before turning black and are 6-8mm in size and usually have three seeds. The Elder berries are often used to make wine.
        
Black nightshade berries, Old Man Dancing @ flickr.com
Black Nightshade- Solanum nigrim
Tiny, tomato-like plant with dull black berries 6-8mm in size. A plant can produce up to 400 berries each containing about 40 seeds. Small mammals and birds each the fruits and seeds and disperse the droppings.

   

        
Burnet rose hips
Burnet Rose – Rosa pimpinellifolia
A low shrub of chalk grassland. Unlike other wild roses it produces large purple-black hips which are a distinctive globular shape. The leaves turn a bright red in the autumn and its multitude of thorns protects the plant from being nibbled by rabbits and other such animals.

 

        
Bittersweet berries, Jamie Richmond @flickr.com
Bittersweet – Solanum dulcamara
A woody scrambler with red, oval, bittersweet berries. Also known as wood nightshade. The fruits are bright red when ripe and although not as poisonous deadly nightshade they do contain poisonous alkaloids and should not be eaten.

 

Spindle berries , Steve Day/ WWT
Spindle – Euonymus europaeus
Small hedgerow shrub. The fruits are four-lobed seed capsules, which turn a deep pinkish-red when ripe. They are matt, not glossy, and contain four orange-coloured seeds. The seeds are eaten by birds, which digest the fleshy seed coat and disperse the seeds in their droppings.

 

 

        

 

Black bryony berries, Rob Large/ WWT
Black Bryony – Tamus communis
This is Britain’s only native wild yam. Its climbing tendrils twine around hedgerow plants and the bright red berries, which can be seen throughout the winter, are poisonous. The clusters of berries have an almost twining, vine-like, posture.

 

 

        
Dog rose berries, Anemoneprojectors @ flickr.com
Dog Rose – Rosa canina
Our most common wild rose the rosehips are oval and scarlet coloured and can contain up to 160 seeds. The hips of the Dog Rose are very rich in vitamin C and are eaten by fruit-eating birds such as thrushes and waxwings, which then disperse the seeds in their droppings. Some birds, particularly finches, also eat the seeds.

  

 

        

 

Honeysuckle berries, Old Man Dancing @ flickr.com
Honeysuckle – Lonicera periclymenum
A vigorous shrub that entwines around trees and hedgerow plants and produce bright red berries, about 6mm in size, in dense clusters. Each berry contains several seeds. Bullfinches, warblers and thrushes eat the berries.
Hawthorn, Darin Smith/ WWT
Hawthorn – Crataegus monogyna
Small or medium-sized thorny tree of hedgerows on rough ground. Clusters of bright red berries, called haws that ripen to a dark wine-red in autumn. They are about 9mm in size and each fruit contains a single seed.
        
Rowan berries, David Kilbey
Rowan – Sorbus aucuparia
Produces clusters of small scarlet berries that are popular with birds. Berries are round and scarlet coloured and 6-8mm in size, each contains 2-8 seeds. The berries are sharp tasting and often made into wine or jelly. The bright red clusters can easily be seen from roadsides.
        
Wild service tree berries, muffinn @ flickr.com
Wild Service Tree – Sorbus torminalis
A tree of ancient woods. The fruits are clusters of brown berries, a light leathery brown in colour with speckles. The fruit ripens in September and there are about 2 seeds in each. The fruits were once used to flavour beer.
        
Crab-apple, Hans Kylberg @flickr.com
Crab-apple –Malus sylvestris
A thorny tree with small, hard, apple-shaped fruits that can be used to make jelly. The fruits are small, bitter and hard, yellow-green in colour often flushed with red and/or white spots and 50mm in size.

 


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