#462 Common Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

10 June

Growing wild but probably garden escapes. Naturalized in parts of Europe and North America. It is not regarded as an aggressive species. It is found in the wild in widely scattered sites, usually in the vicinity of past or present human habitations

#397 Common Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis)

06 April 2021

Native to a large area of North America east of the Rocky Mountains, south to Bolivia. It grows in a variety of conditions including both wet and dry soils, primarily in sunny locations. A deciduous suckering shrub growing to 3 m or more tall. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, pinnate with five to nine leaflets, the leaflets around 10 cm long and 5 cm broad. In summer, it bears large (20–30 cm diameter) corymbs of white flowers above the foliage, the individual flowers 5–6 mm diameter, with five petals.

The fruit (known as an elderberry) is a dark purple to black berry 3–5 mm diameter, produced in drooping clusters in the fall.

#303 Hobblebush (Viburnum lantanoides)

31 December

Viburnum lantanoides (commonly known as hobble-bush, witch-hobble, alder-leaved viburnum, American wayfaring tree,[2] and moosewood) is a perennial shrub of the family Adoxaceae (formerly in the Caprifoliaceae), growing 2–4 meters (6–12 ft) high with pendulous branches that take root where they touch the ground. These rooted branches form obstacles which easily trip (or hobble) walkers – hence the common name.

The shrub forms large clusters of white to pink flowers in May–June. The flowers on the outer edge of the clusters are much larger (3–5 cm across). The whole cluster is typically 10 cm across. It has large, cardioid leaves which are serrate, 10–20 cm long. The bark is gray-brown and warty and the fruit is a red drupe, which turns to black when ripe.

The flowers provide nectar for the Celastrina ladon (Spring Azure) butterfly. Mammals and birds feed on its fruit, twigs, and leaves. The large showy flowers along the edge of the cluster are sterile, while the small inner flowers have both male and female parts

#283 Choke Cherry (Prunus virginiana)

12 December

The wild chokecherry is often considered a pest, as it is a host for the tent caterpillar, a threat to other fruit plants. Other, more appreciated cultivars of the chokecherry are known. ‘Canada Red’ and ‘Schubert’ have leaves that mature to purple and turn orange and red in the autumn. ‘Goertz’ has a nonastringent, so palatable, fruit. Research at the University of Saskatchewan seeks to find or create new cultivars to increase production and processing.

The chokecherry is closely related to the black cherry (Prunus serotina) of eastern North America; it is most readily distinguished from that by its smaller size (black cherry trees can reach 100 ft tall), smaller leaves, and sometimes red ripe fruit. The chokecherry leaf has a finely serrated margin and is dark green above with a paler underside, while the black cherry leaf has numerous blunt edges along its margin and is dark green and smooth

#203 White Baneberry (Actaea pachypodia)

18 September

A herbaceous perennial plant growing to 50 cm (1.6 ft) or more tall. It has toothed, bipinnate compound leaves up to 40 cm (16 in) long and 30 cm (12 in) broad.

The white flowers are produced in spring in a dense raceme about 10 cm long. Its most striking feature is its fruit, a 1 cm (1⁄2 in) diameter white berry, whose size, shape, and black stigma scar give the species its other common name, “doll’s eyes”. The pedicels on which the berries grow are thicker than those of the related species, red baneberry (Actaea rubra). This is the reason for the species name pachypoda, which means “thick foot”, from Ancient Greek παχύς pakhús “thick” and πούς poús “foot”. The pedicels thicken and become bright red as the berries develop.

The berries ripen over the summer, turning into a fruit that persists on the plant until frost.

Both the berries and the entire plant are considered poisonous to humans. The berries contain cardiogenic toxins which can have an immediate sedative effect on human cardiac muscle tissue, and are the most poisonous part of the plant. Ingestion of the berries can lead to cardiac arrest and death.

The berries are harmless to birds, the plant’s primary seed dispersers

#107 Hobble Bush

Hobble Bush (Viburnum lantanoides)

15 June

A perennial shrub of the family Adoxaceae (formerly in the Caprifoliaceae ), growing 2–4 meters (6–12 ft) high with pendulous branches that take root where they touch the ground. This specimen is in the arboretum.

The flowers provide nectar for the Celastrina ladon (Spring Azure) butterfly. Mammals and birds feed on its fruit, twigs, and leaves. The large showy flowers along the edge of the cluster are sterile, while the small inner flowers have both male and female parts.

#97 Dogwood

Dogwood (Cornus sericea)

5 June

We inherited a number of dogwoods with this garden, of which this is the largest and most vigorous. Excellent browsing and sheltering facilities are provided for our birds.

Commonly grows in areas of damp soil, such as wetlands. It is a medium to tall deciduous shrub, growing 1.5–4 m tall and 3–5 m wide, spreading readily by underground stolons to form dense thickets. The branches and twigs are dark red, although wild plants may lack this coloration in shaded areas. The leaves are opposite, 5–12 cm long and 2.5–6 cm broad, with an ovate to oblong shape and an entire margin; they are dark green above and glaucous below; fall color is commonly bright red to purple. The flowers are small (5–10 mm diameter), dull white, in clusters 3–6 cm diameter. The fruit is a globose white berry 5–9 mm diameter.

Dogwoods are symbols of protection and safety in southeastern Native American tribes. In some Mohawk communities, the primeval Tree of Life in the Sky World was said to be a giant dogwood tree. In Northwestern tribes such as the Quileute and Makah, the dogwood symbolized good luck and dogwood berries were eaten during religious ceremonies. Dogwood fruit was a popular food item for many Native Americans, especially the Interior Salish tribes, but to Blackfoot people, the dogwood tree was associated with masculinity and women used to refrain from eating its fruit. The bark and roots of dogwood trees were frequently used as medicine herbs and dyes, as well. Dogwood sap, however, is toxic and was used in some tribes as poison.