“Always maintain a kind of summer even in the middle of winter,” Henry David Thoreau said, and there are some local plants that are happy to oblige, by brightening the monochromatic landscape of winter with their brilliant color and zfinery. Here’s a look at a few.
CORAL BERRY: Also known as Indian Currant, this beauty turns brilliant red when other plants are losing their leaves, and it brightens the understory with its cluster of pinkish purple fruit all winter long. Cut branches make wonderful displays in the house during winter.
The berries are eaten primarily by overwintering robins and it is a favorite food plant of white-tailed deer.
And as every wild plant I’ve ever run across, it has medicianal uses. A decoction (boiling in water to extract the flavor or active component) of the inner bark or leaves has been used as a wash in the treatment of weak, inflamed or sore eyes. A cold decoction of the root bark has been used as an eye wash to treat sore eyes.
Coral berry can be grown as a hedge or informal screen. It is very tolerant of trimming. Plants have an extensive root system and, since they also sucker freely, they can be used for soil stabilization.
This coral berry was found at the Bear Creek Recreation Area.