Sunday, June 7, 2009

Plants--beloved invasive, detested invasive

Every year in mid to late June i look forward to my wineberries ripening. They're in the same family as roses and raspberries, and are not a native plant, although they're certainly well naturalized in my yard! Their scientific name is rubus phoenicolasius and apparently they were brought to America from Asia in the late 1800s as ornamental garden plants. In my yard at least they are quite wild and brambly...the canes are reddish, the leaves are bristly, and the canes are covered with soft red bristles. The fruits ripen inside a bristly calyx, which opens as the berries grow and when they're ready to pick they are deep reddish-orange, a little sticky, on the tart side, and juicy. They're a lot easier to pick than wild blackberries and raspberries which have ferociously sharp thorns.

I didn't plant these plants...they were brought by the birds! I have a line of them on the narrow strip of land on the other side of my driveway. I just try to keep the canes pruned back a bit or else they'd completely overgrow the driveway. They back up against my next door neighbor's beautifully maintained garden...i have a feeling she's not so crazy about their abundant and vigorous growth.

The birds are absolutely crazy for the berries and i've occasionally seen a box turtle underneath the brambles, eating the berries as well. Unfortunately the same generous birds who pooped out the seeds for the wineberries also deposited honeysuckle, poison ivy, and poke seeds in the same place. In my picture of the wineberry plant i inadvertently caught the honeysuckle "on film"...i try really hard to keep the honeysuckle under control but obviously this plant escaped me and has even started to bloom.

The problem with wineberries i guess is that they're non-native plants and can choke out native plants (although they seem to provide very good wildlife food and shelter). The problem with honeysuckle is that it can strangle everything in its path, it spreads vigorously, it regrows from the tiniest bit of stem or root left in ground, and because it makes berries, the birds spread it around generously. It does have an upside...those white flowers are extravagantly fragrant and smell so sweet on a warm summer's evening.


  1. I didn't know that about wineberries! I'd love to have some honeysuckle, although I'm aware from our last house what a tough invasive pest it is--it pretty much tore a fence limb from limb as it grew and grew and grew. I've looked at honeysuckle in the nurseries, but none of that seems to have a scent.

    Thanks for your comments about Radiocat in Springfield. We will definitely do that as soon as we have Yazzie stabilized. She does not like the pills at all, and I have the scratches to prove it. Unfortunately she's also going through a course of antibiotics, so that's even more pills. She's improving amazingly in the stomach department, for which we're grateful. So worrisome when one of the crew gets sick!

  2. We never hears of wineberries but have tried to get rid of honeysuckle! It is a never ending task

  3. I think honeysuckle smells wonderful, but it really does choke out a lot of native plants. We have it all over the back of our yard. I have never seen wineberry, but I googled it after reading this, and apparently, it also outcompetes a lot of native species. It's good to know it's a helpful wildlife plant though.

  4. You seem like you must be a botanist - you have such a vast knowledge of plants!
    Thanks for your comment on my blog. Never heard of that 'frootbat'

  5. Mom said she is impressed wiv your knowledge of plants. She and Dad only garden out of necessity - they say there are always other things they would rather do (reading, being lazy and stuff like dat!)

  6. Glenna, i'd be glad to send you some many yards of it do you want?? I think my friends in the Virginia Native Plant Society would kill me for spreading the stuff around!

    Judy and Milo & Alfie's mom, thank you for your compliments...i'm just an amateur naturalist. I love to garden...but sure enjoy reading and being lazy, too!