Sunday, June 6, 2010

Wild Strawberries and Wildlife

The Fragaria virginiana, the region's native strawberries, have started to produce their berries. The Rubus occidentalis, native black raspberries won't be far behind, and a very wet spring has plumped all of these berries more than last year.

Three years ago when I set the strawberries on their way to take over all of the shady moist spaces in the garden, I think I was imagining one small jar of jam each spring. I soon realized that the berries ripen over a long period in June, but also that just before each is perfectly ripe, it is eaten up. The one in the picture actually has a bite out of it, already.

The raspberries flip into ripeness almost all at once, and so we (Gracie picks her own from the low branches) actually get quite a few. But like the strawberries, they are a popular food source for the wildlife.

But the news for me was that it is not just the berries that make these good choices for supporting the ecosystem, because both the raspberries and the strawberries flower early, and seem to attract bees especially. The berries, the result of all of this activity, extend the benefit of these plants into food for other insects, birds and small mammals.

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