Log Off… Shut Down… Get Outside!
Today is Tuesday, which means we had another Mystery Monday yesterday! Did you get the chance to check it out?
If you guessed that the flowering shrub was Common Elderberry… you were correct!
Common Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) is a native, flowering shrub that prefers to grow in moist areas, such as ponds, like this one found at the Line Hill Mound Area of Rentschler Forest MetroPark, streams, swamps, marshes, flood valleys, etc. This perennial shrub has opposite leaves (as compared to alternate or whorled leaves/branching), and small white to off-white flowers. Once pollinated, these flowers will turn into dark berries beginning around the month of August. These berries are rich in nutrition and are therefore an excellent addition to the diet of animals like birds, squirrels, and other fruit-eating wildlife. When these creatures eat the fruits, they in-turn spread the seeds throughout that habitat.
The fruits of this shrub have traditionally been used to make foods like syrups, jellies, jams, pies, and wine. However, eating any part of the plant raw, including the berries, has toxic effects. Additionally, please remember that it is prohibited to remove anything natural from the parks, including plants and plant parts. These natural resources within the MetroParks are meant for wildlife and to be visited by humans, rather than taken home.
When these beautiful flowers turn into their gorgeous dark berries later in the year, we’ll share what they look like as well! Stay tuned and watch for next week’s Mystery Monday!
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MetroParks provides opportunities to experience open green spaces near home. Pick the time of day that fits your busy schedule to spend some time with nature. Hike a trail, wander through natural habitats, view wildlife or just play! Please consider donating to further MetroParks ability to provide these resources.