Wine Berry- Ellen Nibali

Asked June 19, 2016, 11:38 AM EDT

Ellen....I read you article about Wine Berries in the Sunpapers today ( June 19, 2016 ) and was surprised to find out that Wine Berries are considered an " invasive species". Forty years ago I built a house on 4 mostly wooded acres in Cockeysville off of Falls Road near near Padonia Rd . At that time I noticed a few odd Wine Berry bushes on the side of Falls Road and began picking and eating the berries. At that time I decided that I would would like to have a few of these bushes on my property....and I actually began cultivating them. I transplanted some of them to my property and began caring for them. For the past four decades my wife and I have been harvesting them in July and we often freeze a dozen or so pints a year. They freeze well right off the bush in plastic containers...and during Holiday season the dark red berries make a great festive touch added to the citrus fruit salad ( oranges and grapefruit ) my wife makes for Holiday gatherings. The Wine Berry bushes do well on our property......and in fact seem to get along with other native plants that we have brought onto our property. We always considered them a " local " plant since they grow so readily in our area. Apparently they like the soil....and they tolerate shade well since we live in a wooded area. They have never appeared to be " invasive "....and require little care other than the trimming of the old dead berry-bearing cane after the plant has produced for the year. They get along great in our garden with another local plants that we brought onto our property...especially the Day Lilly. I am sending you a picture of a part of our property right off our driveway that has a nice patch of wine berries and Day Lillies combined....where they have gotten along together for literally decades....with neither crowding the other out. We have cultivated several patches of Wine Berry canes on our property....and none of them seem to be crowing out any of the local plants.....and in fact from time-to-time I remove creeping vines from the Wine Berry canes in order to keep them from being overwhelmed by other vegetation . I guess that one person's " invasive species " is another person's " cultivated species ". This year's Wine Berry crop looks very promising. Just another opinion....and keep up the fine weekly article in the Sunpapers.

Baltimore County Maryland

1 Response

Thank you for your comments. In this instance, I was using "invasive species" in the scientific sense, meaning a non-native species that has proven itself to be harmful to the natural environment, primarily because its aggressive spread displaces native plants that the native ecosystem needs. Think kudzu. Many, like kudzu, were brought into the country on purpose for their ornamental or crop value. Some are still sold today.

Oftentimes, invasive plants form dense growth that crowd out or smother native plants. (While this is not occurring with wineberry in your vicinity, it is occurring elsewhere in Maryland.) But also, it's the accumulation of many invasive species, mixed together, that effectively eliminates native plants. Some of our "natural" parks are now 90% non-native invasive plants.

Native plants are so important because native wildlife in all forms evolved dependent upon native plants. Some are totally dependent upon just one plant!

There's a lot to be said for anecdotal situations. Because you harvest all your wineberries, you are (for the most part) effectively preventing birds from eating them and spreading them in the environment. We hear they are truly delicious.

Here is some info from our website, including a list of invasive plants in MD: