Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Berry

You can be assured that Autumn is on it's way when the hedgerow starts to be filled with the fruits of it's Summer labours. This morning, Malcolm and I had a walk around the old lake which once formed part of the Shipley Hall estate and later formed the central lake of the American Adventure Theme Park. The walk itself is always pleasant, but at this time of the year, there is the added benefit of the Blackberries to be picked. Although, this year the fruits are rather small and shrivelled, following the very dry conditions during the early summer.  Harking back to our 'hunter-gatherer' origins, we did manage to collect a small bag full and will enjoy them later!  There are also many other berries filling the hedgerows right now. Among the most colourful are those belonging to the Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus).
The berries are edible, but only in small quantities. They are very bitter to taste and in larger quantity, they may cause vomiting and diarrhoea. They are best eaten (if at all) in the form of a jam. The bark of this shrub is useful when dried and made into a tincture, for alleviating menstrual pain. For that reason, it has been known historically as 'Cramp Bark'.
alongside these bright, red berries, there are a number of Snowberry Bushes (Symphoricarpos albus). These berries are poisonous to humans producing symptoms similar to those mentioned above, but also dizziness and mild sedation.
The footpaths are all rather full at this time of year, with the Great Willowherb, Brambles, Ash trees, Alders, Angelica, Nettles and Hogweed all competing to be the tallest thing in the shrubbery.
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