I’m still pretty useless at identifying native British trees: I can get most of the more common big species, like Oak and Ash and Beech, but I probably couldn’t identify a Spindle if you paid me … except at this time of year. Because in the autumn, the Spindle (Euonymus europaea) lights up in psychedelic colours that remind me of a dress I had in the ’70s (yes, I am that old!).
The Spindle (so named because its wood was used to make the spindles used to hold wool and in spinning) has fruits that are hot pink. And not only that … when those fruits open up, the seed inside is bright orange. It’s such an outrageous colour combination that it makes me wonder why it’s so very bright … and I haven’t found the answer. I thought perhaps the orange was a way to attract birds and many websites say the seeds are eaten by small birds like Robins and Tits but, when I google images, I can’t find any showing birds actually eating them. The other alternative is that the colour is a ‘don’t touch me I’m poisonous’ warning – and certainly the fruits are poisonous to humans but to birds? If anyone has any information about this eye-popping colour combination, I’d love to hear it. Meantime, put on your shades and check out these psychedelics, man.
You’d think with the shortest day fast approaching that the landscape would be dull and grey and completely lacking in colour. But it’s not! If you look around, you’ll find the cotoneaster trees loaded with red berries, and holly trees, too, bursting with shiny red fruit. In my local park, the Mahonia bushes are flowering in brilliant yellow starbursts, and the Callicarpa shrubs are covered in stunning lilac berries that seem almost unreal and man-made, rather than something Ma Nature created. I thought I’d put some of Nature’s beautiful baubles together to make my very own ‘unreal’ Christmas tree!
I’ve been planning a ‘berry’ blog for a while and have been photographing all the lovely berries I’ve seen while out on my wanders but then, in the process of collecting together my various photos for this blog, I began to wonder what actually is a berry? Is a berry a fruit? Should I include hips and haws? Should I only include the fruits of those plants that have berry in their name? At that point, I gave up and decided a berry by any other name would look as pretty and I would include all the lovely reddish-coloured things I’ve seen growing on assorted trees, bushes and plants, whether they be berries, drupes, hips, haws, pomes, or just plain fruit. So here you go …