add flair to seasonal designs .
by Steven W. Brown, AIFD
Photos courtesy of Flower
Council of Holland
1 the fruits of winter.
Berried branches come from various types of trees and shrubs, some of
which are evergreen and some of which are deciduous. They also are
members of different botanical families and genera. These branches are
treasured for their fanciful fruits that lend accent to fall and winter
around the world.
Here are a
variety of berried branches along with their genus and family
Aquifoliaceae (holly) family
Euphorbiaceae (spurge) family
Anacardiaceae (cashew) family
Meliaceae (mahogany) family
Caprifoliaceae (honeysuckle) family
Rose hips (Rosa)
Hypericaceae (St. John's wort) family
not just red or white.
are available in reds, oranges or yellows; beautyberries are purple,
lavender, magenta, mauve or white; tallow berries are white;
pepperberries are rosy pink or red, or green when they are immature;
chinaberries are pale orange, yellow, green or cream; snowberries are
white, green or pink; and tutsan berries are brown, burgundy, red, coral
4 how and when sold.
branches are packaged either by stem count or weight. There is seldom
any foliage present during late fall and winter months except on
pepperberries and tutsan. These branches are most available from
September through December, except for pepperberries and tutsan, which
are available year-round.
5 buying right.
that exhibit signs of bruising, mold, rot or berry drop. Make sure that
your supplier handles berried branches with care; rough handling can
bruise the berries and cause them to drop.
6 check the gas.
of berried branches are sensitive to ethylene, so check with your
supplier to ensure that the products you buy were treated with an
anti-ethylene agent at the grower level or during transportation.
7 care and storage.
stems, removing at least 1 inch; dip or place them into a hydration
solution; and place them into properly prepared flower-food solution.
While some berried branches might not benefit from the nutrient in
flower-food solutions, most will benefit from the biocide, which will
reduce bacteria levels in the storage containers. Store fresh berried
branches in a cool (40 F to 55 F) environment until sale or use.
8 long or eternal life.
conditioned and stored, most berried branches will last for one to two
weeks. Pepperberries and tallow berries can be air dried by hanging
bunches upside down in a dark, dry, room-temperature environment.
9 fun facts.
The milky sap
of tallow trees is used in the manufacture of rubber, and the waxy
substance covering the seeds (which forms the berries) is used in making
candles and soap. Pepperberries have a peppery taste, but they can be
somewhat toxic. The seeds of chinaberries have holes in them and were
used for centuries to make rosaries. One species of Hypericum (H.
perforatum) has medicinal value including as an antidepressant; this
species is different from those grown commercially as cut flowers (H.
androsaemum and H. inodorum).
10 on their own or mixed.
to being beautiful on their own, these berries are excellent fillers and
textural additions to all kinds of mixed floral designs.
Some information provided by:
R.J. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson; Hortus Third, Liberty Hyde Bailey and
Ethel Zoe Bailey; Chain of Life Network, www.chainoflifenetwork.org;
Holly Society of America, Inc., www.hollysocam.org; Virginia Cooperative
Steven W. Brown, AIFD, is a professor and
department chair of horticulture and floristry at City College of San
Francisco with 27 years of consulting and educational experience in the
floral industry. You may contact him by e-mail at
or by phone at (415) 239-3140.
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