What is this bush with red,current-like berries?

rosie99(z6VA)July 13, 2006

This bush is growing around the lake where I walk my dog..Some are 5 ft high, some only around 3ft. It has small oval shaped leaves with clusters of 4 or 5 berries on the end of the branches. I haven't seen birds eating them, so the berries may not be edible. This is a handsome plant , reminds me of holly, though the berries are not the same.

Anyone have a clue? (I tried to add a picture but couldn't get it to work...help needed there, too!)

Thanks, rosie99

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It could be one of the bush honeysuckles.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bush honeysuckles

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 10:17AM
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catherinet(5 IN)

If it's bush honeysuckle, it's totally invasive. It has absolutely overtaken and fairly ruined my woods. It's very aggressive and shades all the natives out. We're trying to pull it all out, but it grows faster than we can get to it. We used to think it was nice too. We wasted so many years thinking that!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 8:08PM
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jeffseattle(z6 PA)

It might also be a variety of huckleberry, which has small ovate leaves alternating up either side of the branches. Huckleberry usually grows in areas where there are rotted stumps or other rich matter in the understory. Red huck, the one I'm familiar with, doesn't look much like holly, but others have darker and glossier leaves.

Here is a link that might be useful: Native Huckleberries

    Bookmark   July 16, 2006 at 1:08AM
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ladyslppr(z6 PA)

I agree the description you give matches one ofthe bush honeysuckles such as Lonicera mackii, Lonicera tartarica, or Lonicera morrowii - they are all exotic invasive weeds and should be removed. Another possibility is winterberry holly, but you seem to be familiar with holly berries and wrote that this bush doesn't have typical holly-type berries.

As an aside, ALL berries are edible for some creature. The whole reason a plant produces berries is so that an animal will eat them and pass the seeds, hopefully dropping them in a place where the seeds will grow and prosper. Many berries are considered inedible for humans. Most of these are merely undesireable to eat - tasteless, mealy, very sour or bitter, etc. Some are poisonous, which usually means they cause vomiting or nuasea. A few types of berries are actually poisonous enough to kill you. However, even those berries are eaten by something (often birds) or else they wouldn't do the plant any good.

However, not all berries are equally favored or eaten at the same time. Some berries are higher in fat or sugar than others, and these are eaten first in summer and early fall. I find that red osier dogwood is one of the most favored and my bushes are stripped of berries already this summer. Some berries are eaten late in the year because they are either lower in sugar and fat than other berries, or because frost seems to make them more palatable. Holly berries are usually not eaten until cold weather. Same goes for certain types of wild grapes, which taste sweeeter after a frost. The last berries eaten around here are usually Staghorn Sumac. I assume this is because the berries are very dry and seem pretty low in food value (This is based on just inspecting the berries. I haven't tried eating any).

The berries on Lonicera morrowii and Lonicera mackii usually last a long time around here. I think that is because there are so many of these shrubs that the berries glut the market at a time (now) when many birds are still feeding insects to youngsters, and more favored berries are available. If those berries were there in January they'd be eaten in a day.

    Bookmark   July 24, 2006 at 10:28AM
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Is this your property?If it is,then as a good steward,you are required to rip them out.Just as one would pick up trash along ones road frontage.They are very brittlely rooted though.Make a positive ID before you do anything.Turn back the silent holocaust.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2006 at 3:49PM
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barton(z6b OK)

What about american beautyberry? it is in the same family as honeysuckle but is native.

Here is a link that might be useful: beautyberry

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 7:08PM
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Beautyberry (callicarpa) is not truly invasive. Sometimes birds spread seeds, but the germination is very very low.

Beautyberry looks like a shrub or tree; not like a vine.

The berries are sometimes white, too.

Here is a link that might be useful: American Beautyberry

    Bookmark   August 18, 2006 at 8:58PM
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it is called bittersweet nightshade, Solanum dulcamara, pretty little purple flowers with 5 petals and yellow anthers. Leaf is tri-lobed with a large center lobe and two small lobes at the base. The berries are very pretty and very poisonous.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2007 at 9:55AM
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Birds: The eastern towhee would appear to eat the berries of bush honeysuckle. However, the towhees seem to have accepted me. I have stood three feet away and observed. They used to fly in, take a berry, and leave. Now they work the berry before my very eyes. They extract the seeds, and discard the pulp and skin.

I too realize the over proliferation of these bushes. I cut them off in August if the soil is dry, and brush on concentrated weed killer for the thirsty phloem to draw on.

    Bookmark   March 12, 2011 at 8:00PM
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Thanks to all who posted the info..The plant is a bush honeysuckle-(here in VA it IS all over the place).In the dead of winter, some birds do eat the berries(possibly a last resort for food). BUT...thanks again for your help! Sometimes I forget you all are here.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2011 at 2:31PM
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When I was up and around Lake Isabella, Ca. I came apon a plant that is from 1 to 2 ft. tall with lots of fruit on it and when you pick them you do by grabing the fruit and pulling back towards yourself to fold back the spines the berry is covered with. When I pinched it juice and seeds came out. Does anybody know what kind of fruit this is??
P.S. oh yeah, it tastes real good

    Bookmark   June 13, 2011 at 5:14PM
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The prickly fruit you describe is an actual gooseberry! They are delicious when ripe and you have discovered the way to get them out of their very prickly skin! Enjoy!

    Bookmark   June 24, 2011 at 9:20AM
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