Elderberries. Elder trees used to be found close
to every rural house. It was said that country people of old had lots of different uses
for this tree and its fruit. I dare say that its fruit was often put to good use and wine
made from this fruit is not at all offensive to the palate. It is a beautiful little
shrub-like tree, which is covered in off-white flowers in early summer.
Sloe. The attractive sloe berries have fooled many a youngster into eagerly biting into
its flesh only to find that its bitterness instantly gives one a sense of dryness in the
mouth. This is the Blackthorn tree from which our Shillelagh (cudgel) is made.
Damson. The damson -unlike the sloe- is a tasty
plum-like fruit and becomes especially sweet after the first frosts.
Hawthorn. The beautiful Hawthorn brightens up our
hedgerows in the early summer with its flush of white flowers, so plentiful that they
obscures the branches of the tree completely. As you can see this is then followed by a
huge crop of red berries. It is said that a large crop of berries is a sign of a bad
winter to come. The reasoning being that God made sure that the birds had a plentiful
supply of food for the tough winter ahead.
Blackberries. The fruit of this thorny briar is very tasty whether
eaten raw or used in pies and jams. In my school days most children earned pocket money by
picking these fruits and selling them at special collection points. It always seemed that
the biggest ones were just out of reach.
Clockwise from top left, Acorns from the Oak tree, Holly berries,
Chestnuts, Crab Apples, Hazel nuts and Rowan (Mountain Ash) berries.