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Friday, Sep. 7th 2012

Fall berries are bounty for birds

With the shortening days of late summer giving way to fall, most people notice a substantial decline in activity at their feeders. This time of year Mother Nature provides a bounty that lures the birds from the feeders to something more tempting. Ripening berries abound and one way to keep the birds, while not at the feeders, but
at least in the yard, is to grow some of the preferred berry- bearing natives. Not only do they have excellent wildlife value, but are attractive in the landscape as well. In addition, birds that are not normal yard visitors may show up for the fruit feast. Keep a close eye and you may see Cedar Waxwings, warblers, vireos, thrushes, bluebirds and king- birds among many others. Many of these natives provide cover and nesting sites for birds throughout the spring and summer. All of the following plants are native to Missouri.

American Beauty Berry (Callicapa americana) – deciduous shrub 3-5 ft. with spectacular bright violet berries in late September or early October. Full sun/part shade. May die back to the ground in winter.

Black haw (Viburnum prunifo- lium) – Shrub grows 12-15 ft. White, flat top flowers in spring, purple- black fruit in fall. Burgundy fall foliage. Fruit tastes like raisins. Full sun/ part shade.

Rusty black haw (Viburnum rufidulum) – 10-15ft., white flowers in March-April and clusters of red berries in September. Red fall foliage. Full sun/shade.

• Rough-leaved Dogwood ( (Cornus drummondii) – Small tree or shrub, to 16 ft., that is easily recognized by its white berries in late summer/early fall. Has showy white flowers in the spring. Full sun/part shade.

• Silky Dogwood (Cornus Amomum) – shrub 6-8 ft., white flowers in June and blue fruit in August, red stems in fall and winter. Sun/shade.

• Spice bush (Lindera benzoin) – shrub 9-15 ft., yellow-green flowers in late March-April, red berries in late summer/fall on female plants. Aromatic leaves, yellow fall foliage sun/shade but for best fall color plant in sun. Also host plant of the spicebush swallowtail butterfly.

• Service berry (Amelanchier arborea) – small tree 10-20 ft., fragrant white flowers in March-April, red fruit enjoyed by birds and people. Orange fall foliage. Full sun/shade.

• Fragrant Sumac (Rhus Aromatica) – spreading shrub 3-9 ft., yellow flowers in April, female plants bear red fruit in late summer/early fall. Fabulous fall color ranging from orange to scarlet to reddish purple. Sun/part shade.

• Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra) – spreading shrub 8-15 ft., yellow spring flowers, red fall fruit in 8” clusters. Striking fall color ranging from bright orange. Sun/part shade

Article written by: Mary Nemecke

3 Comments on “Fall berries are bounty for birds”

  1. Gwen Martin Says:

    I have 3 Service Berry trees (each about 3-4 years old) and watered them during the intense heat and drought. They didn’t fare as well as I expected. All are in full sun – 10-12 hours a day in the summer – and planted in our great clay soil. They appear to be alive. What should I do to help them recover?

  2. terrybmichel Says:

    You are asking a great question, Gwen. Serviceberry trees are natives to Missouri and can live in almost any environment here from swamps to rocky ridges so the soil you have shouldn’t be a problem for them. They prefer full sun but can live in partial shade as well. If they appear to be alive, they probably are. I’d just wait for them to recover and keep watering if we don’t get at least 1” of rain per week. Here are three articles on the subject you might find interesting: is a description of Serviceberries themselves and both and are about the drought and their toll on trees both written by Chris Starbuck, MU’s go to guy for trees.

  3. Sandy Berry Says:

    I planted two American Beauty Berry bushes just this spring, and I am delighted with them. They wilted a bit during this dreadful summer, but only a couple of deep waterings kept them going splendidly. They are beautiful little ladies and now are sporting those wonderful berries…can’t wait to see a bird sitting on one of their branches! I also planted Viburnum lentago ‘Nannyberry’ this spring, she is struggling even with my best efforts, has not grown a bit, but is still green. I’m hoping she’s just sleeping in this, her first year. And, I have some naturalized dogwoods which I believe are Rough-leaved. I’m planning to plant more native species.

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