Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Berry Nice Discovery

Discoveries on my very short walk up the road.

White Baneberry AKA Doll's Eyes AKA Cohosh.

Actaea pachypoda, is native to eastern North America. The whole plant and especially the dotted, porcelain white berries are highly poisonous. Lovely fringed white flowers appear in Spring. Now clusters of white “doll’s eye” berry fruits sit atop brightly red pedicels. Each white berry is marked with a distinct black dot. Fruits persist over 4 – 6 weeks. Baneberry is a long-lived perennial which thrives in a moist, well-drained, compost rich soil. They are growing on the steep bank beside the dirt road here.


An excellent native bramble shrub with thornless stems - a treat for berry lovers, but not as much of a treat as the taste! Thimbleberry grows rapidly and forms dense thickets of upright 4-6' stems.The large, downy maple-like leaves are 4-8" across. The tart, red, edible fruits tumble into your hand when ripe. Birds love these berries and often it is a race to see who gets the first taste!

The pink thimbleberry flowers resemble a wild rose. The flowers borne are white or pink and are usually found in clusters of two to six. The thimbleberry fruit is not a true berry but an aggregate fruit. The fruit is larger, flatter, softer and with more seeds than other berries. This soft red berry plant is a species of Rubus genus. This species is botanically known as Rubus parviflorus, and also by many other common names such as western thimbleberry, mountain sorrel, western thimble raspberry, etc. Native to western and northern North America, the berries are used for making jam. This plant is not cultivated widely for its berries as they are soft and prone to damage but they are very sweet. The berries turn from pink to scarlet when fully ripe and are soft, cup-shaped and full of tiny seeds. It is easy to know when to harvest them: when ripe they tumble effortlessly from the branches at the slightest touch. They ripen extremely fast–just a few hours on a sunny day can turn a hard, pink berry red, soft and ready. These, too, grow on the steep bank beside the dirt road all mixed in with the Baneberries! They should be ready for picking soon. 

(Above Photo mine)

Above Photo from Walter Siegmund, Creative Commons License-
Enjoy them raw, or in your jam!
Above Photo from an image search on the internet

If you're lucky enough to have these delicious scarlet berries in your area, here is an easy jam recipe.
  • 2 cups Thimbleberries
  • 2 cups sugar
Do not wash the thimbleberries—pick them over to remove debris and insects. Mix the sugar and berries, then bring to a boil for 2 minutes. Pour into sterilized jars and seal at once. The thimbleberry, unlike other berries, contains a natural pectin.


  1. Hmmmm, don't know if my comment went thru...Blogger is on the fritz again...

    What a great walk!! Love nature, I do.
    And, I've been trying to catch up with your most recent posts since I've not had time to visit lately....your collage imprints you made are fantastic. And loved the 'driver dog'. Cute!! Also, your woodchuck. That is awesome that you got a chance to get a photo of it before it scurried off.

  2. had heard of doll's eyes, but not thimbleberries!