Growing wild - Guelder Rose and Sloes
Catherine Keena, Teagasc Countryside Management Specialist takes a closer look at some of our native Irish biodiversity to look out for in the countryside. This week Catherine writes about Guelder Rose and Sloes, and how to spot them.
Look out for translucent crimson red fruit of guelder rose amid striking purple, red or yellow coloured, maple like leaves. While not poisonous, the fruit have a very nauseous taste, but are eaten by birds. This shrub is found in hedges and woodland edges on damp soil. While germination is erratic, propagation is worth a go. Collect fruit and store in a plastic bag until over-ripe or rotten. Wash to separate flesh from seeds and sow immediately after cleaning. Growing shrubs of local provenance is the best way to maintain our native Irish biodiversity.
Look out for sloes, the distinctive rich inky dark fruits of blackthorn. They look like damsons, but are very sour and bitter. While not eaten directly, they are foraged for flavouring gin or poteen. Birds eat sloes and blackthorn is the food plant of the Brown hairstreak butterfly, as well as numerous moth species. Blackthorn wood is used to make shillelagh walking sticks. If propagating, remove the flesh, partially rot if necessary. Store the seed in moist sand outdoors and sow in late winter. Growing shrubs of local provenance is the best way to maintain our native Irish biodiversity.
See previous Growing Wild articles below:
- Growing wild - Purple loosestrife and Lord and Ladies
- Growing Wild - willowherb and water mint
- Growing Wild - dandelion and greater stitchwort
- Growing Wild - willow, primrose and lady's smock
- Growing Wild - whitethorn and cow parsley
- Growing Wild - bluebells and guelder rose
- Growing wild – Honeysuckle and Foxglove
- Growing Wild - Elder and Ragged Robin
- Growing wild - dog rose and meadowsweet
- Growing wild - Privet and Lady’s Bedstraw
- Growing Wild - Bird’s foot trefoil and Knapweed
Keep an eye on Teagasc Daily for another Growing Wild later in the month. Learn more from Teagasc about Biodiversity & Countryside