Dogberry Details

Mountain Ash trees are native to Newfoundland, and according to local folklore, the amount of dogberries found on these trees can predict the conditions of the upcoming winter. If dogberries are plentiful, heavy snow can be expected in coming months. If you’d like to know more, the Telegram printed a story on the folk history and uses of Mountain Ash and dogberries in our province (you can read it here).

Dogberries are an important source of food for birds, and have been processed into jams and wine for generations.

At the spot around the bay, there’s a beautiful Mountain Ash on the other side of the deck’s rail; here’s how it looks through the seasons:

Bare branches in winter months

The compound leaves of the Mountain Ash, through the lens of a mojito

At the beginning of this September, before the dogberries turn ruby red

Todd Boland’s new field guide, Trees & Shrubs: Newfoundland and Labrador (Boulder Publications 2011), is a wonderfully exhaustive volume, with quality photos demonstrating each species as it appears through its cycle. It was published just in time for our slow fall hikes, allowing us to identify species we’ve wondered about in previous years, as we amble along, admiring the colours.

It’s easy to find Mountain Ash along popular trails, without even having to venture off the path.

While collecting, we cut bunches of dogberries to leave a few inches of stem, and handle them carefully (berries pop off without much force). I place them in water at home, until I’m ready to use. This year, the dogberries are noticeably heavier than in recent years; only time will tell how we’ll fare this winter (although long-term models look like less snow than usual).

Hanging out in the gravy boat, next to the pie bird from mom

It’s really quick and easy to make a dogberry wreath: just poke stems of berries through grapevine wreath tendrils, until it’s covered. I added a frosty gray bow, too.

If you know of any folklore traditions about weather prediction, post below! Thanks!

Todd Boland’s Trees & Shrubs: Newfoundland and Labrador is available through local bookstores, and directly from the publisher at the St. John’s Farmers’ Market. Follow this link to Boland’s June 2009 article on Mountain Ash trees.

and lastly, a photo of our first weekend with our puppy, among fallen dogberry bunches (two years ago on October 30).

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Filed under Arts+Crafts, Decor, Newfoundland+Labrador

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