While trying to shake the last few nuts free from the — knock on cyberwood — so far blight free fairly large American chestnut tree I’ve been monitoring for the last eight years or so, and with ongoing failures to get the nuts to sprout, I ran across a second patch of coral berry, reassuring because I know of only one other.
This is what I wrote about the little guy in an article on “nature’s winter colors.”
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.