Jan. 21, 2018

highbush cranberry, Viburnum trilobum

Highbush cranberries are not really cranberries. They do have bright red, juicy, edible fruit. Years ago, a commercial featured Euell Gibbons, a popular advocate of wild foods, eating cereal with highbush cranberries. The catch is that these berries are EXTREMELY sour. I always figured he got a real kick out of pulling America's leg, and no one knew it. Ultimately, according to Time magazine, he died of "natural causes". This species is very close to the Eurasian version, and is sometimes considered a subspecies. Recently I heard that it is the Eurasian berries, now naturalized here, that are sour. But so far the ones I have tried have not rewarded my curiosity. The large florets at the margin of the flower head are not fertile. Their function seems to be to attract pollinators to the vicinity of the smaller fertile flowers. Highbush cranberries grow in CT, IA, ID, IL, IN(E), KY, MA, ME, MI, MN, MT, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH(T), PA(R), RI, SC, VA, WA, WI, WV, WY, and across Canada except for LB, NT, NU, and YK. Lenawee Co MI, 5/31/11.