Oct 07 2010
The trees and shrubs are all decked out in fruit right now.
Each fruit is a cunning seed delivery system. On the surface its beautiful color lures animals and birds to eat it. Under the skin is a tasty treat, the reward to the consumer. Inside that is the payload, the seed.
It’s quite an ingenious system for long distance propagation. The plants are rooted to the ground and would only spread as far as the wind moves their seeds unless they arranged for someone to carry them. Their solution is to offer their fruits in pleasing packages to hungry hordes of migrating birds.
This common grackle, feasting on dogwood berries in Marcy’s yard, may migrate 30 miles to his next destination where he’ll cast the seeds. In this way Marcy’s dogwood may have offspring near Maryland.
Viburnums and pokeberries, mountain ash and dogwoods offer their fruits in the hope that the birds will eat every last one of them. They’re berrylicious for a reason.
(photo by Marcy Cunkelman)