How to identify wild fruits

Here are 12 familiar, and less familiar, wild fruits to look out for when in the countryside this autumn. 

Dog rose

                                                                           Illustrations by Felicity Rose Cole


1 Dog rose Rosa canina (above)

Vigorous hedgerow briar: our most common wild rose. Oval to flask-shaped scarlet rosehips.



2 Black nightshade Solanum nigrim

Tiny, tomato-like annual with dull black berries. Not to be confused with poisonous deadly nightshade.



3 Burnet rose Rosa pimpinellifolia

Low shrub of coastal dunes and chalk grassland. Unlike other wild roses produces purple-black hips.



4 Bittersweet Solanum dulcamara

Woody scrambler with red, oval, bitter-sweet berries. Also known as woody nightshade.



5 Spindle Euonymus europaeus

Small hedgerow shrub with garish clusters of coral-pink berries held in orange sheaths.



6 Black bryony Tamus communis

Britain’s only wild yam. Climbing tendrils twine around hedgerow plants. Red, poisonous berries.



7 Elder Sambucus nigra 

Small hedgerow tree with flat clusters of edible black berries. Frothy white flowers in May–June.



8 Honeysuckle lonicera periclymenum

Vigorous shrub that entwines around trees and hedgerow plants. Clusters of bright red berries.



9 Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna

Small or medium-sized thorny tree of hedgerows, rough ground and upland areas. Scarlet oval ‘haws’.



10 Rowan Sorbus aucuparia

Upland tree with clusters of small, scarlet berries (popular with birds). Also known as mountain ash.



11 Wild service tree Sorbus torminalis

Often-overlooked tree of ancient woods. Clusters of brown, spotted fruits (once used to flavour beer).



12 Crab-apple Malus sylvestris

Thorny tree with small, hard, yellow, apple-shaped fruits that can be used to make jelly.


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