Walking around Fingle Woods this week you may notice a good crop of rowan berries. In fact, when the sun is out, you can see them from some distance, glowing in fiery orange bunches. Large clusters of the weighty fruit are straining the slender branches of the small tree of the woodland edge and scrubby areas. Though there are some magnificently grand specimens around Fingle, the rowan (Sorbus aucuparia) tends to inhabit the fringes of the woodland and the hedgerows and scrub land around the valley. This year is giving us a particularly good show of these spectacular bunches of berries and the birds will be enjoying them too.
The rowan berries may be prolific this year but they are not the only one of the woodland shrubs storing the summer’s energy. You may see other brightly coloured berries putting on a show. They need to get noticed at this time of year so the woodland wildlife can feed on the fruity flesh and disperse the seeds inside.
Another attractive hedgerow berry that is peculiar to this county is the Devon whitebeam. Though they are not seen in Fingle Woods, they do inhabit the scrub and hedges either side of the valley.
Across Devon, they are a good example of how landscape conservation projects such as the Fingle Woods restoration can protect our landscape and its unique features. Another “Sorbus” that can be found around Fingle Woods is the Sorbus torminalis, or the wild service tree. It is another small, berry bearing tree that we hope will flourish and spread in Fingle Woods with a bit of careful woodland management.
Get out into the woods this week and enjoy the juicy spectacle of berries before the local birds have a feast on them. Please don’t forget to take some photos yourself and send them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
by Matt Parkins