Weather Forecast


Berries identified as edible, a rosebush hasn't ever bloomed and more

Don Kinzler identifies this reader-submitted photo as Silver Buffaloberries. Submitted photo

Q: Do you know what these berries are? Are they good for jelly, or should I leave them alone? They were on large shrubs or trees about 12 feet tall growing at Rollag, Minn. — Jean Siirila, Wadena, Minn.

A: Thanks for the wonderful photo. It's Silver Buffaloberry, Shepherdia argentea. The berries are very edible, commonly used now for jelly-making. It's been a long time since I nibbled a buffaloberry, but as I recall, they are a little tart until fully ripe. Native Americans used them extensively, combined with buffalo meat.

Buffaloberry, with its silvery leaves, forms a large shrub or shrubby tree 6 to 14 feet high. It's native to the Upper Midwest and is commonly found in creek draws and in undisturbed areas like North Dakota's Badlands and are sometimes planted in shelterbelts.

A study published in the Journal of Food Science indicates buffaloberries are higher in the antioxidant lycopene than tomatoes. The red component is a natural food colorant, and the acid content of the berry makes it attractive to wine producers. Because buffaloberry grows well in poor soil and is extremely drought tolerant, it's increasingly attractive for commercial production.

Q: Recently we pulled out a rosebush that has never bloomed in over 30 years. We tried everything and realized it's just taking up room. — Pam Pfaff.

A: Good choice. If a rose will not bloom, chances are it was a grafted rose whose top winterkilled and the below-graft rootstalk burst forth, often with great vigor. The rootstalks grow well, but rarely bloom. This phenomenon was even more common in past decades when tender hybrid tea roses were more popular, with the desirable flowering variety grafted onto non-flowering rootstalk. You deserve the "Patient Gardener of the Year" award.

Q: Do you recommend cutting daylilies down this fall? — Betty Heller.

A: Daylilies are best cut down to about 1 inch above ground level in fall after one or two frosts. Most perennial flowers winter best with tops left intact to catch insulating snow, but the foliage of some types turns to mush by winter, making cleanup difficult. That's why the tops of daylily, hosta and iris are best cut back in fall when they are firm enough to handle. Another exception to leaving perennial tops intact is peony, which is often affected by foliage diseases, so tops are best cut back to 1 inch and disposed for sanitation.

Q: I have two Honeycrisp apple trees that are about 7 years old. They have never bloomed or given us one apple. Are they never to produce? — Eric Halvorson, West Fargo.

A: They will flower and produce in time. The average time length from planting to bearing of apples is three to seven years depending on variety, sometimes longer. Although some begin fruiting unusually young, it's not unusual for Honeycrisp to take seven to nine years. If the tree is healthy and growing nicely, there's little cause for concern.

However, it's important to avoid applying lawn fertilizer in the near vicinity of young apple trees, as high nitrogen fertilizer can keep an apple tree in all leaves and no fruit. If you fertilize the lawn, stay at least 15 feet away from the trunk in all directions on a young apple tree. Good luck, and I'll bet you're only a year or so from a great apple crop, hopefully this next spring. Facebook Friend Bill Schumacher responded, "I had the same situation. On the seventh year, I had apples."