When do winter berries appear?
Different berries grow in different seasons – they’re not all around in winter. Elderberries, for example, ripen in late summer and are devoured by birds and mammals soon after.
All berries you can see in winter have grown in the autumn. Some will last longer than others, making it as far as February in some cases. It all depends on the species and how popular the berries are with the wildlife that depends on them for survival.
Amazingly, studies have shown that birds choose the order they eat berries in carefully, to make sure they have food available for as much of the winter as possible. First, they eat the non-toxic berries with short shelf lives, like blackberries.
Those with longer retention periods, or with a mild toxicity, like ivy, are left untouched until other food sources are scarce. Even then berries with mild toxicity levels can only be consumed in low numbers in any one sitting. This makes sure there’s a supply of berries long into the winter.
Where can we find winter berries?
Here’s a quick guide to some of the berries you’re most likely to see in winter, and how useful they can be to people and wildlife.
Holly (Ilex aquifolium)