Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Berries are for the Birds

I have a volunteer shrub in my backyard that I have allowed to spread since our purchase of our home three years ago.  It's an interesting plant in the spring and summer with green leaves on red stems and yellow blossoms. In the fall the leaves change out to a bright red.  It has berries that start out green and turn to yellow and then orange as they mature, finishing off with a dark purple or black in winter.  As I pull weeds and trim back foliage of a variety of plants, I have continued to allow this small shrub to expand because my thinking was perhaps the birds would be attracted to the berries.  However,  I have never seen any activity to support my hope of  providing for the birds.  That all changed yesterday morning when I photographed this Oregon Junco feasting on the dark berries.  This led me to get serious about identifying this plant.  Thanks to my sister-in-law Patty, and my wife Jeanette, I now know this plant to be a variety of St John's-wort (Hypericum). Mystery shrouds the real value of the plant, from poisonous to a number of healing properties.  I'll continue to keep a close watch, either for a dead Junco or robust harvesters, but at the moment I feel successful in providing berries for the birds.

1 comment:

  1. I have noticed that the Juncos are not interested in the seeds of my spent zinnias till the harshness of winter makes them hungry enough to lower their dining standards. Lee