Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Nature of Easton: Wild Wineberries

"Nature of Easton" is a feature we'll be posting from time to time, as opportunity arises. It will highlight fauna and flora, along with other tidbits about our environment, most of which we see every day but often fail to notice, along with some interesting facts.

This luscious cluster of wineberries was photographed
Downtown last week.

July is the month for fresh raspberries locally, and in the City of Easton, it's no exception.

It may be surprising at first to realize there are wild raspberries, specifically of the "wineberry" variety growing in all four neighborhoods of our urban landscape, but even casual observation will prove this to be true.

The wineberry, or 'Rubus phoenicolasius' is a species of raspberry native to northern China, Japan, and Korea. The species was introduced to Europe and North America as an ornamental plant and for its potential in breeding hybrid raspberries.

It escaped from cultivation a rather long time ago and has become naturalized in eastern North America.

And, every year, pretty much without fail, they ripen in the first few weeks of July. That is to say, right now.

Their delicate edible fruit isn't one you'll find in any grocery store though--specifically because it is delicate, and they don't "keep" for long.

These wineberries were delicious!
Of course, because they are the most delicious of berries, they never last long anyway. Sweeter than traditional raspberries, they're also called wineberries for fact that they do make an excellent wine too.

They are also one of the most easily identified wild edible plants, with no poisonous look-a-likes in North America. Other plants that wineberries may be mistaken for include the red raspberry, black raspberry, and blackberry, all of which are also edible.

In and around the city, look for it at the edge of wooded areas, vacant lots, along nature trails, roadside, in just about any nook or cranny where the cane will get the sunny-shady, well-drained conditions it craves, and hope you get there at that perfect moment of ripeness before both the birds, and also all those other would-be urban foragers who now also know what wineberries are about.

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