Please help ID shrub w/berries

JuliaFan(z6bMA)August 23, 2005

Tall shrub, with bluish-black berries ripening same time as blueberries & huckleberries. Well-drained woodland edge in Massachusetts, Zone 6. Leaves 5-6 cm (not mm as on photo), and berries about 8mm.

Is this a wild highbush blueberry? Or something else, and in that case, are the berries edible?


Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
well_drained(z6a MA)

While you are waiting for an expert to respond, I'll throw in my two cents: My intial take is that it is not a highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), because of the color of the berries. V. corymbosum also has an interesting bark - it looks like a dark brown or tan bark has been stripped away in segments to show a lighter underbark -- there is something muscular or shredded looking about it. But I'm not sure this isn't true for other members of the family. The location is right for V. corymbosum, but it's also right for other berry-making plants, such as various native and non-native buckthorns (the non-natives are invasive) and the huckleberries. I believe buckthorns are toothless (at least the European is), while blueberries and huckleberries have toothed leaves. The general rule with the color of blueberries and huckleberries is that blueberries are more blue than black and huckleberries are more black than blue. Also, blueberry seeds are numerous and tiny, so you don't notice them when you eat the berry, while huckleberries (at least Gaylussacia baccata) have a small number of larger seeds, and you notice them. I live in eastern Mass. and have noticed in some wetter (but not swampy) areas, a lot of dangleberry shrubs (Gaylussacia frondosa?), a huckleberry, that may match your plant: black berries, toothed leaves (I think) and larger than some of the smaller huckleberries and blueberries (I think - wasn't clear from description). My only question is the wavy white line on the berries, which doesn't seem to fit with my understanding of either blueberries or huckleberries.

As I said, I'm not an expert, so I hope someone will jump in and correct me if I've led you wrong.

-- wd

    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 9:48AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Judy_B_ON(Ontario 5B)

Looks like glossy buckthorn to me, a non native whose berries will purge your system.

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 12:32PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Thanks, Judy B and well_drained,

The berries are bluish black. Is there a variety of buckthorn that has berries that look like huckleberries? They do not have the look of blueberries, with the matte haze. They are smoothe and shiny. The leaves are not toothed--they look just like the ones in the photo of the Glossy Buckthorn in Judy B's link.

I looked up Dangleberry (photo at link given), and all the definitions say it is a low-growing shrub (maybe what I have been calling the huckleberry). This shrub is tall, 6 ft or so.
There isn't a whitish line--that's just something to do with putting the sprig in the scanner)

I think it must be some kind of buckthorn. Thanks for the heads-up about what happens if one eats them!


Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 5:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo
Judy_B_ON(Ontario 5B)

Buckthorn berries are black, smooth and shiny (hence the name "glossy"). I go along on a local hiking club's walk twice a year, spring and fall, as a "wildflower expert". Every fall someone asks whether the buckthorns, with their big, juicy berries so abundant in the fall, are edible. My reply (stolen from another naturalist) is always:
"Everything is edible ... once. Buckthorn berries won't kill you, but they will make you wish you were dead."

    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 6:13PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Looks like Judy got it right. Where I live we are troubled with every invasive under the sun but I can honestly say I've never seen Glossy Buckthorn.
This is easily and readily distinguished from the blueberries and huckleberries. Buckthorn leaves have a much longer petiole. Buckthorn berries are borne singly. Blueberries and huckleberries have flowering racemes which become clusters of berries.

    Bookmark   August 24, 2005 at 7:22PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Agalinis auriculata and other imperiled species for your garden
Has any of you tried to introduce a locally imperiled/endangered...
WoodsTea 6a MO
ID needed - tall, yellow button flowers
These are currently in bloom, wondering what it is?...
Is it cheating to use varieties that were bread from natives?
For example, instead of native Itea virginica, using...
Buttonbush: sun or shade?
I have a question about a plant I received for free...
Callery Pear Forests
Today I had a shock. We were driving through the way...
Sponsored Products
Versailles Heirloom Bronze Two-Light Clear Heritage Handcut Crystal Wall Sconce,
$812.00 | Bellacor
Elk Lighting Distressed Textured Leaf Keepsake Box - 87-2636
$44.00 | Hayneedle
Vienna Full Spectrum Modern Crystal Column Table Lamp
Lamps Plus
Glistening Ridge Rug 6' x 9' - SOFT BEIGE
$1,699.00 | Horchow
Structures Bowl Pendant
$429.00 | Bellacor
Woven Textures Rug 5' x 8' - IVORY
$399.00 | Horchow
Progress Lighting Chandeliers Orbitz Collection 6-Light Brushed Nickel
Home Depot
Home Decorators Indoor/Outdoor Home Decorators Collection Rugs Crete Beige 2
Home Depot
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™