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Growing Wild - Elderberries and Blackberries

Growing Wild - Elderberries and Blackberries

Catherine Keena, Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist takes a closer look at some of our native Irish biodiversity to look out for in the countryside.


elderberry plant

Look out for hanging clusters of dark blue-black elderberries, so much loved by birds that many trees are already stripped bare. They have an anti-viral effect and helped people to stay well in the winter months in the past. Elderberry syrup tastes delicious, not to mention the wine. This small tree growing up to six metres stands out in autumn as its leaves change colour.  It supports many invertebrates, including many that feed on the jew’s ear fungus which grows on elder almost exclusively. Known as bour tree in northern parts of the country, elder is part of our native Irish biodiversity.


blackberry plant

Look out for the last of the blackberries, each one a collection of small black drupes or druplets, with its own seed. While coming to the end of a long season of blackberries, it is still possible to see blossoms and green, red and black fruit at different stages of ripeness on the same arching briar. According to folklore blackberries shouldn’t be eaten after hallowen when the púca spits on them. The saying 'ní fiú sméar san fhomhair é' (it’s not worth an autumn blackberry) refers to later blackberries. Likely to be the first wild food you picked and tasted, blackberries are part of our native Irish biodiversity.

See previous Growing Wild articles below:

Keep an eye on Teagasc Daily for another Growing Wild later in the month. Learn more from Teagasc about Biodiversity & Countryside