poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘red berries

haws and sharps

with 5 comments

As we trim our roads at our cabin, we sometimes get into arguments over what shrubs should stay and what should go. Most decisions are easy: mountain birch and willow are numerous on the property and will grow back; oak and maple are always kept because of their beauty and relative scarcity; alders disappear without the slightest consideration. However, whether to keep the hawthorn (Cretaegus) or let it grow, always takes some wrangling.



The Hawthorn is a woody shrub or bush with sharp thorns, growing in thickets and along rivers, lakes and coastal areas.  Hawthorn is also called Red Haw. The red, fleshy fruit is used to make tea, jelly or jam.



I think the shrub should be kept just for its beauty. Who could resist those bright red haws?



My husband wants it gone. The thorns are long and sharp enough to pierce an ATV tire or scratch a truck.



Who wins the argument? Beauty always prevails. Even those thorns have their own, terrible, loveliness.



Hawthorn (Cretaegus spp.)


each fall, the hawthorn bleeds

with berries, impales

with thorns


berries are difficult to gather

easier to flood, with red



to strip the bush of every drop

Cretaegus draws

so choose –


ignore the feast, or risk

a bleed to pick a berry

collude with birds


see how waxwings hover

twig to twig, manoeuvre

in the thorns


haws, of course, not wasted –

what red the thrushes leave

will rot


nourish another season



poem from within easy reach (Chapel Street Editions, 2016) –

one poem of many to celebrate the edible wild …

to order a copy of the book, contact Chapel Street Editions


All my best,


Written by jane tims

October 1, 2018 at 11:26 am

Partridge-berry (Mitchella repens L.)

with 6 comments

One of the evergreen plants in the spring woodland is a little vine called Partridge-berry.  It trails, low to the ground, in shady, mossy woods, sometimes covering moist banks and hummocks with its shiny greenery.

Partridge-berry (Mitchella repens L.) is also known as Twinberry, Snakevine, Running Fox and Two-eyed Berry. The word repens is from the Latin for ‘creeping’.

The leaves of Partridge-berry are small, ovoid and opposite on a vine-like stem.  The leaves have a bright yellow midrib and veins, giving them a clear outline against the background of dry leaves.

The flowers are white or pinkish, and bell-shaped.  They occur in pairs – the two flowers are closely united at the base, sharing a single calyx.  As a result, the bright red berries are two-eyed, each showing two blossom scars.

This time of year, in July, Partridge-berry has flowered and set its berries.  The berries are dry and seedy but edible, with a slightly aromatic flavour.  They are a good nibble along the trail or can be used as emergency food.  The berries are ordinarily eaten by birds, such as the Ruffed Grouse.

1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.



common names

( Mitchella repens L.)



Running Fox


a glimpse of red

between hairmoss and hummock

the fox slips into shrewd spaces

seeks the vacant way





a twist and a Twin-berry

trail woven and worn

mottled and mid-ribbed

Mitchella meanders

over feathermoss, under fern





Ruffed Grouse pokes and pecks

tucks a Two-eyed Berry in his crop

lurches on



©  Jane Tims  2012

red berries red

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Red Berries Red

Jane Tims









between ruby glass

and hard wood floor

a slide of light and three


extinguished candles

smoke lifts from smoulder

each mote a particle

of spectral light, mosaic

shard, image

reassembled in three



shepherd, hawthorn

pitiful lamb




Canadian Holly 

(Ilex verticillata (L.) Gray)

drab November

             and lexicon


umber leaves

grey verticals

dull stubble


astound the wetland

red ink on page

             words explode

             from exile

fever flush and holly

above December snow

icicles vermillion





©  Jane Tims, 2011


'red berries' Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis L.)

Written by jane tims

December 25, 2011 at 12:45 pm

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