Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Saskatoon berries of the people in the Land of the Dead.

In a clearing among towering fir and hemlock survives a spindly, worm-eaten shrub with snow-white berries. This is snowberry, Symphoricarpos albus, whose fruits will persist throughout the winter. Aboriginal groups consider the berries toxic. According to Pojar and MacKinnon (1994), "One Stl'atl'imx story identifies the berries as 'the saskatoon berries of the people in the Land of the Dead.'" Kind of, well, a mouthful, but certainly more poetic than "snowberries."


Garden Lily said...

Do your kids like to step on them, and hear the wonderful "pop" sound, too? When we bought our property, there were snowberries here, so I've kept some of them in the garden. I keep fighting them back (they want to be a thicket, not just a bush), but I can't bear to remove them entirely.

Hugh said...

No, Lily, They haven't met them. I'll have to bring a few home. (They sure love working away at bubble wrap.)

Karen said...

We just admire them without touching, given their reputation for being poisonous. Saw a lot of them today, and my folks have some at their place. They make a nice contrast to holly.