A group of around 16 joined Willie McLaughlin, Wildlife Ranger, for a walk on a gloriously sunny afternoon on Sunday. Willie had very kindly stepped in to lead the walk as Richard had already left for Cumbria. The aim was to look for Fruits of the Wood – but as Willie reminded us it has been a dry year so berries and nuts are not so numerous as they might be.
So, the group enjoyed the walk looking at plants and trees that could be used for a variety of things. We started off with the glorious Beech Tree, the mast is not edible to humans but enjoyed by squirrels – however apparently the new young leaves can be used to flavour your gin!
We moved onto a more well-known fruit – the sloe – yes – sloe gin – but the flowers of the blackthorn also have medicinal purposes, as do the next couple of plants we stopped to look at – Hawthorn and Meadowsweet.
However, black bryony having wonderfully red berries is poisonous to humans but much liked by birds! The next-door Rosehips are full of vitamin C and can be made into a syrup to ward off colds.
Trees as well as providing shade and firewood, can also be used for making instruments and furniture. We have some wild service trees in the wood and the berries of these can be made into jellies once bletted.
Our thanks go to Willie for an informative walk – making us think about Fruits in a different way!
Photographs by Steve Goddard