Hedgerow Berries

Late summer and autumn are the perfect times of year for seeking out wild fruits, nuts, seeds and berries. These can be found everywhere – in parks, woodlands, river banks … and hedgerows – one of my favorite places for berry hunting. 

Are you ready to join me? Let’s find some hedgerow berries!

rowan berries
sloe berries
rose hips
black berries
hawthorn berries

Hedgerow Berries

There are So Many different fruits and berries growing all across the British Isles. Some more common in particular areas; some edible; many poisonous. 

Here I shall introduce 12 of the most common hedgerow berries you are likely to come across in the hedgerows bordering our country lanes.

Please remember: Some berries are highly poisonous. Please do not eat any berry without being completely sure of it’s identity and also without being completely sure that the berry is safe to eat.

Blackberries

(Rubus fruticosus)

black berries

A well-loved, juicy, edible berry found almost everywhere along hedgerows and rough areas in our countryside. 

The blackberry is not a true berry, but is actually an aggregate fruit, made up of lots of little fruits called drupelets. 

Black Bryony

(Dioscorea communis)

black bryony berries

These beautiful, multi-coloured berries can be found strung like pretty necklaces, ornamenting the hedgerows.

Black bryony is actually a member of the yam family – and the only member of this family growing wild in Britain. Unlike yams, though, it is highly toxic. 

Elderberries

(Sambucus nigra)

elderberries

Hanging in heavy clusters above the hedgerows, these purple-black berries are easy to identify. 

Elderberry is used in a traditional herbal medicine as a winter immune booster. However, it is best not eaten raw, and the leaves of the tree should not be eaten at all. 

Guelder Rose

(Viburnum opulus)

guelder rose berries

Guelder rose berries can be identified by their thin, almost translucent skin and bright scarlet shine. Also, by their very distinctive usually three-lobed, reddish-green patterned leaves. 

Like elderberry, guelder rose has also been used as a traditional herbal medicine and is highly prized by wildlife.

Hawthorn

(Crataegus spp.)

hawthorn berries

Next to blackberries,  and sloe, hawthorn berries, called haws, must be one of the most commonly found berries in our hedgerows. 

The small, deep red berries can be found growing all along the twigs and branches of these gnarled, lichen covered trees. 

Holly

(Ilex aquifolium)

holly berries

Holly is pretty unmistakable and one plant that does not need a description. Its tell-tale sharp, pointed, dark green leaves being recognised by almost every school child in this country.

However, a fact that may not be as well recognised, is the holly’s use as a battle ground for mistle thrushes. These birds love holly berries so much, they will fiercely guard their trees, driving away any other birds and wildlife.

Honeysuckle

(Lonicera periclymenum)

honeysuckle berries

Honeysuckle berries grow in bright, scarlet ball-shaped clusters at the ends of the branches. The paired leaves along the length of the branches also help in identifying this berry. 

Honeysuckle is another valuable food source for winter wildlife – but beware, it is not valuable for humans.

Ivy

(Hedera helix)

ivy berries

Ivy berries are not easy to spot, as the black, gobular fruits hide among the tangled shadows of the hedge. but, once you have trained your eyes in, you will soon spot them everywhere!

While poisonous for humans, ivy berries provide a valuable, fat-rich food source for wildlife.

Rosehip

(Rosa canina)

rose hips

Wild rose berries, called hips are oval-shaped bright orange-red fruit found in small clusters at the ends of and dotted along the branches. They can be spotted throughout the autumn and add splashes of colour to the bare hedgerows in winter.

Once gathered as a rich, high-vitamin tonic during food rations in the world war, the hairs inside were also used by mischievous children to create an itching powder!

Rowan

(Sorbus aucuparia)

rowan berries

Rowan berries hang in thick clusters of yellow-orange or red coloured berries high up in the tree branches. This tree can be identified by its characteristic leaves – and often by the high concentration of lichen blanketing their trunks.

As a note for bird-watchers, this tree is high beloved of several visiting winter birds, including the fieldfare, waxwing and redwing.

Sloe

(Prunus spinosa)

sloe berries

Sloe or blackthorn are bluish coloured berries with a thick blue bloom found clustered along their spike-laden branches.

Used in the brewing of gin and wines, this tree was also once highly prized for creating excellent walking and dancing sticks for Irish and Morris dancing!

Wild Plum

(Prunus domestica)

wild plum

Wild plums can be found growing among our hedgerows too, and are always a treat to come across. 

You may come across several different varieties, including damsons, bullace and greengages. Sometimes, even some cultivated plums grown from a cast away seed! 

Nature Quiz

How well do you think You know your hedgerow berries? Are you ready to test your nature knowledge? 

You are enjoying an autumn nature walk along a country lane, when you spot these berries in the hedgerow. You stop to have a look. But, do you know what they are?

hawthorn berries Canva
Correct! Wrong!

Your clue for identifying these berries are the lobed leaves. And watch out for the thorns!

Further along the lane, you spot these clusters of purple-black berries hanging in bunches from a tree. Can you name them?

Elderberries Canva
Correct! Wrong!

The bark of this tree will probably show long, vertical ripples. It has beautiful, creamy-white flowers, too.

Hearing a commotion of birds, you look up and notice blackbirds squabbling over these orange-red berries. What are these berries called?

rowan berries Canva
Correct! Wrong!

The leaves of this tree re very distinctive. they grow side-by-side along the stem.

Leaving the birds to their meal you continue your walk and come across these blue coloured berries in a very spiky bush. Can you name them?

sloe berries Canva
Correct! Wrong!

These berries are easy to miss, as they blend into the hedgerow. But once you spot, them, they are everywhere!

The, in the bush next door, you spot these tear-drop shaped fruit. What are they?

damsons Canva
Correct! Wrong!

These fruits are yummy to eat when they are ripe. But watch out for the stones!

As you reach up to have a closer look at the purple-blue fruit, your coat snags. You bend down to un-snag it and notice these juicy looking berries. Can you remember their name?

blackberries, brambles Canva
Correct! Wrong!

These fruits are also a tasty treat. But, remember to keep a close eye on their thorns!

You finally free your coat and move back from the hedgerow, to continue your walk, and see these shiny red berries arching and branching all along the tops of the hedge. But, what are they?

rose hips Canva
Correct! Wrong!

Birds love these berries and devour them all through the winter. Humans can use them too, but the hairs inside you are best avoided... they can make you itch!

Further down the lane, you spot strands of these berries draped like garlands along the hedge. What are these berries?

black bryony berries Canva
Correct! Wrong!

They may look very pretty, but remember, they are poisonous!

A bit further down, you spot these ball-like clusters of berries. What are they?

honeysuckle berries Canva
Correct! Wrong!

Notice how they cluster at the leaf junctions. Remember, though, these are also poisonous.

Last, but not least, at the end of the lane, you find thrushes squabbling over this bush full of berries. Can you remember their name?

holly berries Canva
Correct! Wrong!

The clue to this plant is the sharp, dark green leaves!

Hedgerow Berries Nature Quiz
Well done! You're getting there!

identifying hedgerow berries

Keep practicing, and you will soon get there! Maybe our hedgerow berries ID cards and scavenger hunt will help you build your confidence while out and about on your nature walks?
Very good! You are doing well!

identifying hedgerow berries

You are doing really well and have a lot of nature knowledge. Well done you! Don't forget to keep practicing! If it helps, perhaps you can try carrying our hedgerow berry ID cards to help out with those berries you are not too sure about. Or, why not challenge yourself to a hedgerow berry scavenger hunt?
Excellent work! You're a true nature whiz!

identifying hedgerow berries

Excellent work. You really know your berries. Remember to keep your eyes open while out and about. There are many other berries growing in our countryside! Perhaps you can challenge yourself with a hedgerow berry treasure hunt?

Nature Guides

Check out our Hedgerow Berries Nature Walk Carry Cards and Hedgerow Berries spotter sheet!

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