On July 15, 2018, while wandering the park off path, I stopped occasionally to taste the summer berries. It was a three-berry day: Mulberry, Blackberry, and Black Raspberry. All three are black in color when ripe, having passed through a red stage.
Mulberry is the earliest of the three to ripen and has the longest picking season; some ripe ones can be found before the middle of June and some are still ripening.
Mulberry is a small tree and is usually found in Eliza Howell Park growing next to and under a large tree inside the road loop. Mulberry is eagerly consumed by birds and I have often spent pleasant time in a shady spot in late June or early July observing the variety of birds visiting a tree to pick up a berry or several. Six or more bird species can usually be seen in 10 minutes.
Mulberry is edible and, in addition to being eaten fresh, has often been used in jams and desserts and is sometimes used to make wine. I usually just pop a couple in my mouth and do not harvest for home.
The latest of the three to ripen is Blackberry.
Blackberry is just now beginning to reach the black stage. Blackberry plants have long horizontal-growing canes with short sharp prickles (or thorns) that can snare and tear clothes – and skin. Blackberry canes sometimes form impenetrable thickets\brambles. In Eliza Howell, Blackberry is most frequently found at the edges where woods and fields meet, though small plants are starting to grow in some open un-mowed areas.
Some mammals and birds eat the fruit. As do humans. I am sampling them these days.
Black Raspberry is at the end of its fruiting season by the middle of July; only a few edible berries can still be found. The picking season is quite short, three weeks at most. This picture was taken about 2 weeks ago.
Black Raspberries also have canes, with smaller thorns than those of Blackberries. In Eliza Howell Park, they are found along the edges, but also in the woods at times. They do not appear to be as much of a food source for birds and other wildlife as Blackberry, and definitely not as much as Mulberry.
Though I just ate a couple on my July 15 visit to the park, Black Raspberries are my favorite and I harvest a large quantity of Eliza Howell berries every year, spending many hours picking at my favorite spots. (I posted more on this, “Eliza Howell Black Raspberries: Winter and Summer,” on January 8. 2018.) Though the canes do not snag and tear as much as Blackberry, I do definitely get scratched.
This year, as I picked, I found myself thinking of the Kenny Rogers song, “The Gambler” and the line, “There’ll be time enough for countin’ when the dealin’s done.” My version to myself about scratches: “There’ll be time enough for healin’ when the pickin’s done.”
There is another edible and tasty summer berry in the park, one that I did not sample on July 15. The Wild Strawberries ripen in June.
Wild summer berries: another feature of Detroit’s Eliza Howell Park.