Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Road to Hell, and fruit!

Yes, we all know about "the road". But guess what, I figured it out! I've been trying to sort through my notes going back to my last post, so as to catch up with all good bits intact. As some of my favorite webbers say, "REDONKULOUS!" So rather than trying to catch up by writing about Things Past, I'm going to PICK UP instead, and pepper the conversation with recollections where applicable. Deal?

Identify the Mystic Berries. These appeared in my back yard, growing on thick stems which curve over and are armed with Very Serious Thornage. I took a few pictures, because these are not something I planted; I know they're NOT ordinary raspberries because I know what those leaves look like.

And it's NOT this. I'm figuring these berries were carried about in the craw (sounds better than the alternative) of some birds who were enjoying the chaotic jungle that I think of as "my natural garden", and were ultimately deposited, where they began to grow. I think I've seen them before, but I've pulled them out or broken them down. This year, however, my indolence ...erhhm...Busy Schedule has prevented my doing much in the back yard, and you can imagine my surprise when I found these berries!

This is what they looked like a few days later, "redding up" as they say. They look very much like ordinary raspberries, which happen to be a great favorite of mine -- but which I cannot bring myself to pay eleventyfour dollars an ounce for. HOWEVER! Owing to my indolence extreme busyness at the Museum (see above), I wasn't able to get out to look at them very often.

NOTE: In order to get the previous photographs, I had to move VERY fast, and only the fact that my clothing caught on the thorns prevented my being carried off in the clutches of an Oscenity of Mosquitos; laughingly called "The State Bird of Wisconsin" I am here to state that there is NOTHING humorous about them, and only the fact that our neighbors are vampires and had a few quarts of Type O (I think it's a Pepsi product) in their fridge... and the knowledge of transfusing ... prevented that last from being my Final Blog post.

UNDAUNTED, however, as I am never, ever daunted at my age, I went out last night to examine them again, and found this:

NOTE: I went out wearing sweatpants (it was in my own backyard, not a soul around to see me) and a hooded sweatshirt with the hood tied tightly around my neck. Did they attack my hands? NO they did not. Fortunately I managed to protect my face....mostly.....

Now, I found this entirely beautiful, and there were several clusters identical to this on the other curving, thorny arms of the plants. Mr Dearling had thought they might be thimbleberries; someone else suggested blackberries. I had no idea - oh, and did it occur to me to (duuuuuuhh) look them up ON LINE? It did not. Lay it at the feet of above-mentioned Busyness.

So what I did instead was go back inside for a bowl, and at great expense to life and blood, I gathered up the ones that were actually like this and therefore, I thought, probably ripe:

I found it interesting that the berries AROUND the central one were still red, but I'm guessing that they're just unripe and will darken. I brought in the eleven ripe berries that I found, and brought them in, where they look like this:
They DO look so edible, and there's some rhyme about white berries being dangerous but red or black being fine....with the exception of Deadly Nightshade, which has bright cherry red berries and are also known as Bella Donna, the poison of choice in Renaissance Italy.....nevermind.

I put them in a pretty ceramic bowl,and showed them to Mr Dearling to see if he might be able to recognize what they were.

NOTE: Mr Dearling was born in da Bronx. Grew up on Longk Islandt. And I'm asking him to identify a wild berry found growing in the wilds of the back yard. Plus - he's a boy. So of course, being a New York boy with all those man genes and a healthy sense of scientific curiosity.......

He ate one.

And of COURSE (you saw this coming) immediately clutched his throat, made hairball hacking noises and slumped against the counter. Unconvincing -- but what could I do? I read "Romeo and Juliet". I immediately popped one into my mouth too.

And thus arrived at the following verdict, since corroborated by examination of information on line, might I add :


They're in the fridge, waiting for some of their fellows to ripen, and then they have an appointment with a splash of cream. There won't be many of them, I think, but we'll each have a small bowl...and then I'll read up to see what I can do to guarantee their future health and welfare, and I'll mark them out for Protection and Further Care.

Unless we were wrong, in which case we might be dead before you finish reading this. Lovely Daughter gets the stash.


Anonymous said...

You silly goose. I used to eat those all the time when I was on back-road bike rides as a teenager. YUM. Now I don't dare, because the bushes/trees might be sprayed. But there are some along the Glacial Drumlin Trail that I ride between Lake Mills and Jefferson.

Try to collect enough to make a tart. Good luck not just gobbling them up!

Lee said...

Yay! You're back! I really missed your posts.

Glad you identified the berries. From Mother Earth News: Foraging for Edible Wild Plants: A Field Guide to Wild Berries "No aggregate berry (those, like raspberries, that are made up of clusters of juicy little drupelets) is poisonous to man or beast." Tell Lovely Daughter hands off the stash for a few more decades.

Anonymous said...

Those are wild blackberries (at least, that's what we call them). We have them growing EVERYWHERE; they are the very definition of "invasive". They are incredible when ripe, but I'm not sure the ones you picked were really ripe. The test is when they practically fall off into your hand when you give them the slightest tug. Their taste makes me think of fantasy flowers, but I seldom get to eat them -- the birds get there first.

Cathy-Cate said...

Agree with Kat and Beth. The birds left you a wild treat to grow in your garden! We scavenge those from the woods whenever we run across them. Warm from the sun....yum!

I've heard them called 'brambles', black raspberries and blackberries...but the blackberries I see in the store do look different. Here's what I found from a Cook County IL naturalist:

The easiest way to tell raspberries and blackberries apart is by the
berries and the canes. As they mature, the fruits of both change color
from green to red to deep purplish black. However, the ripe raspberry
is a cup that slips from a central knob or core. In the blackberry the
core is part of the ripe fruit. The cross-section of a blackberry cane is a
five-pointed star. The raspberry's is circular. Also, the latter is dusted
with a silvery powder that rubs off with the touch of a finger.

Based on that, I think what I'm familiar with are black raspberries. Because the fruit slipping off is familiar. But now I'm curious -- next time I see some! (There's a walk I take through our local marsh, a mile from our house; there are some brambles there; will investigate.)

(and at the bottom of the Cook County naturalist page, a riddle which I will pass on to you, although you know the answer now:)

Q: What is green when it is red?
A: A blackberry!

cheesehead with sticks said...

Oh how I've missed you and am glad that your last post was not your "last" :)

You know, I believe that I have the very same berries - acres of them. I always forget about them, but something tells me they are never ready until fall. Now I think I will have to investigate our berry situation. Who knows, I could have a plethora of potential jam just sitting there right in my yard.

Kitty Mommy said...

Yum for black raspberries!!!

And welcome back from your *cough*, sabbatical.

CTJen said...

oh they do look yummy!

Randi said...

I'm glad you're back, too. And, enjoy the berries! I love berries.

Lovely Daughter said...

For the record: I am in NO hurry to get the stash, and am perfectly content to wait another 40 or 50 years. I haven't even figured out what to with my own considerable (but unorganized) stash - more's really the last thing I need (OY!) ;)

Welcome back, Mom!

Jamwes said...

They look so tasty.

Alwen said...

::*blinks eyes*::

Good heavens, those are edible? I have them in red and gold, too.

Next you're going to be telling me those purple things hanging in the mulberry tree are edible, too!

gayle said...

We've got a black raspberry patch that started from one 'rescued' berry plant years ago. Ours aren't ready till late July.
Black raspberries were the only kind of raspberry I was familiar with - we used to go berry picking when I was a kid. Pies, jam, etc, were made, then the excess frozen for winter goodness.
The first time I saw a red raspberry, it was hard to convince me it was RIPE...

Anonymous said...

They are a Rubus species. ALL Rubus are edible, but maybe not delicious. The spray issue is a good point, but in your own yard you should know what has or hasn't been applied. I learned this in a camping/outdoors class. The plant is identified by the placement and shape of leaves (and often thorns).
The leaves are fairly distinctive. The plant grows in disturbed land, as animals with soft lips won't browse it.