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Wednesday, June 22, 2016



...FRUIT (Google photo)
Wednesday, 8:00 AM. 59 degrees F at the ferry dock, 56 on the back porch.  Wind ENE, light with slightly stronger gusts. The sky is partly cloudy with some haze, the humidity 68%.  The barometer is more or less steady, currently at 29.93".  The weather should be cool and pleasant until the possibility of thunderstorms sometime Saturday.  
   Highbush cranberry, Viburnum americanum, in the Honeysuckle Family, the Caprifoliaceae, is not a cranberry at all, which are in the Heath Family, the Ericaceae.  Its common name comes from the similarity of its fruits to the true cranberry.  Highbush cranberries are almost through blooming now, and will soon set fruit, which will persist into late fall and some through the winter, when it will be an important late winter wildlife food.
   The berries are edible  and very nutritious, but are extremely acidic and can hardly be eaten raw, although they make fine jams and jellies.  The whole plant, which is a large shrub at maturity, is very decorative, with large, flat, compound white flowers followed by bright red fruit and excellent fall foliage colors of orange and red.
   Highbush cranberry prefers a moist location but will grow on drier sites when planted.  It is somewhat shade tolerant, its natural habitat being the margins of wet woods and swamps.  Its geographical range is across Canada and the northern US.  It is closely related to the Eurasian V. opulus, and is often considered a variety of that species.  Both are important food sources of indigenous cultures throughout the Northern Hemisphere.
   Highbush cranberry is a very useful landscape plant, especially for native or naturalistic plantings, and my designs often include them for their decorative and wildlife qualities.

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