Oct 07 2010

Berrylicious

Published by at 7:30 am under Plants,Songbirds,Trees


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)

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Berrylicious”

  1. Libby Strizzion 07 Oct 2010 at 8:44 am

    Which comes first, the photo or the tale? Marcy Cunkleman takes a lot of your photos, and I’m wondering, does she send you one & say this would make an interesting story? Or do you have the story & request that she take a photo to illustrate it? Probably both.

  2. Kate St. Johnon 07 Oct 2010 at 9:01 am

    Good question, Libby. There are 3 ways:
    1. In this case Marcy sent me several photos in an email with the subject line “Berrylicious.” That sparked my interest so I asked for more photos to choose from & wrote about it today.
    2. Usually it’s the other way around. I come up with an idea and look for a photo in the stockpile I’ve collected from friends over the past 3 years.
    3. Occasionally I don’t have a good photo for my idea so I email a request to friends most likely to have photos of the subject. This is my least favorite way of blogging because I might not get the photo in time to post the blog … and then I have to abandon the idea.

    In most cases, a single blog entry takes one to two hours to publish because of photos + research + writing. Quite a commitment.

  3. Donnaon 07 Oct 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Kate, I enjoy every blog entry you post, and have learned so much. I didn’t realize how much of a time commitment was involved with each one. Thank you so much for your time, and the knowledge you share!

  4. Bird Feederson 07 Oct 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Great photograph! Excellent pose, I love how well you can see the berry in the bird’s bill. I agree, fruiting plants have quite the adaptation for dispersal. Its an excellent example of a symbiotic relationship very representative of the interconnectedness of the natural world. Thanks for sharing!

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