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."