Viburnums

rokchipr
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rokchipr
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Joined: May 16th, 2005, 9:18 pm

October 16th, 2014, 8:35 pm #1

Forager, Did you sample any of the wild raisins (Viburnum cassinoides) I located at the Washington's Crossing State Park? The fruits were quite good, sweet, with pulp the consistency of dates and tasting like a combination of date & prune. The skin was a bit tough but easily masticated. The seed was a rather large percentage of the fruit volume and was flat and oval in shape. On a woods walk there the following day I located several other viburnums sporting clusters of red berries looking very much like the highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum) but having a serrated nearly oval leaf 2-1/2 inches long instead of the highbush cranberry's maple leaf. the berries were juicy and sour but not unpalatable, having a softer skin than the wild raisin, and again having the viburnum's characteristic flat oval seed. I was reluctant to sample them until I had positively identified them as a viburnum knowing that there are no harmful species of the genus. There are Viburnums considered inedible but they are more correctly classified undesirable due to having little edible flesh that is often bitter tasting not because they are poisonous.
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Forager
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Forager
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Joined: October 22nd, 2010, 11:42 pm

October 17th, 2014, 12:12 am #2

The description of your fortuitous find at WC matches my own sense of this fruit. The details you cite are beautifully precise and exceed my own casual description from our discussion at the time of your find. I was delighted to see them and took their early ripening (you'll recall a few still-green ones in the clusters) as an indicator to check my own location further North across the NY border, a task I've yet to accomplish. I'll look up V. cassinoides to see how it compares with my own ID of the NY V. lentago once I return with a leafed twig with fruit. Curious about the subtle distinctions between the two eminently edible and virtually identical fruits.

My local landscape is stocked with your alternate red-fruiting Viburnum with serrated leaves. Again, your assessment agrees with my own down to the fine points, but I have not bothered any culinary experiments with these (my fresh samples were bitter verging on noxious, discouraging further pursuit; too much corrective sweetener and I feel like the fruit value has been diminished if not lost) as this time of year provides too many other final options and my priorities usually lie with mushrooms. Please let us know what results you come up with if you do anything with the red V's.
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Forager
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Forager
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Joined: October 22nd, 2010, 11:42 pm

October 22nd, 2014, 2:03 am #3

I gathered some of my regional V. lentago and immediately recalled your specimen.  As I recall, the leaves I examined of your sample of V. cassinoides were shorter and more rounded, whereas mine are more lanceolate, finely toothed and have pointed tips.  The fruits are nearly identical although V. lentago seems to be a bit more elliptical or elongated but the flavors are quite similar.  I'll see if I can get a picture up, I deliberately tried to get some leafed twigs in my collection for this purpose.
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