Bushes that produce dark purple berries add color and texture to your landscape. Some bushes produce berries you can eat, while others bear the inedible sort. Whether the berries are edible or inedible, they are likely to attract birds, especially in dry years. To discourage birds from feeding on edible berries, you can try applying netting, setting out motion-activated sprinklers or placing audio bird-scare devices around the yard.
Berries in Early Summer
The edible purplish-black berries on true laurel (Laurus nobilis) and serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) ripen in early summer. Female true laurel bushes bear edible berries if pollinated by a nearby male bush. Its fragrant leaves are a culinary herb, and this broadleaf evergreen grows in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 10. Serviceberry, also known as Juneberry, bears green berries that mature to red and turn purplish-black when ripe. The berries are commonly cooked into jams and pies, and the bush grows in USDA zones 4 through 9.
Berries From Late Summer Into Fall
Some bushes put out dark purple berries from late summer into fall. American elder (Sambucus canadensis) grows in USDA zones 3 through 9 and produces dark purple to black, berry-like fruit that taste good in preserves, wine and pies. This bush spreads into colonies, so choose a space where this growth habit won’t cause problems. The extremely tart, but edible, berries on smooth witherod (Viburnum nudum) emerge light pink, turn deep-pink and mature to purplish-black. Planting a few of these bushes to promote cross-pollination, in USDA zones 5 through 9, results in the best berry display.
Berries in the Fall
Oregon grape-holly (Mahonia aquifolium) and beautyberry grow in USDA zones 5 through 8 and their berries ripen in the fall. The deep blue-purple edible berries on Oregon grape-holly taste a bit sour when eaten fresh but make outstanding jelly and resemble a cluster of grapes. This broadleaf evergreen produces more fruit when grown with at least one other Oregon grape-holly, and it has a spreading habit. Beautyberry produces inedible berries that birds love to eat. Although a deep and vibrant shade of purple in the fall, these berries promptly turn brown.
Berries Persist Into Winter
Certain bushes produce an abundance of dark-purple berries that persist into winter, which adds interest to your landscape during these cold months. The edible berries on purple-fruited chokeberry (Aronia x prunifolia) ripen in late summer, and the bush grows in USDA zones 4 through 7. Although the fruit is too acidic to eat raw, you can turn the berries into wine or syrup. The inedible purple-pink berries on coral berry “Kordes” (Symphoricarpos x doorenbosii “Kordes”) are ripe in September and birds love to eat them. This deer-tolerant bush grows in USDA zones 3 through 7.
- Cornell Cooperative Extension: Bye Bye Birdie – Bird Management Strategies for Small Fruit
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Amelanchier Arborea
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Laurus Nobilis
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Symphoricarpos x Doorenbosii "Kordes"
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Aronia x Prunifolia
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Viburnum Nudum
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Sambucus Canadensis
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Callicarpa Cathayana
- Missouri Botanical Garden: Mahonia Aquifolium
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