From midsummer to late autumn, it is the turn of the fruits and berries. This is, of course, one of the few types of foraging that the British have always engaged in, even if it was only collecting blackberries.


Berberis sp.

Berberis wilsoniae. Who needs Tangfastics when you’ve got some of these!?

I’m going to start with one that is neither native nor widely-eaten.  In fact, I’m not even sure which species/cultivar this is.  It wasn’t growing wild; I found these growing in somebody’s front garden in Brighton, and at first I wasn’t even sure what they were.  Some research led me to conclude they were some sort of Berberis, and on that basis I tried eating them (I now know they are B. wilsoniae). They were very sharp/sour, but absolutely delicious if you’re into that sort of thing.  In fact, just looking at the picture makes my mouth water.  Bring it on!

Cherries/Plums/Cherry Plums

Cherry Plums

Botanically speaking, cherries are just very small plums.  There are numerous sub-species of plum (wild ancestor: Prunus cerasifera) in the UK, and since the cultivated versions can freely interbreed with various native strains, it is often quite difficult (or impossible) to know exactly what you’ve got.  But they’re all edible, so there is no problem here.  You just have a taste, and if they are good then they are good!  These are typical “cherry plums.”


Common Sea-buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)

Common Sea-buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)

Mainly a coastal species, as the name suggests, these plants are resistant to salt and wind.  They are becoming more common inland due to intentional planting.  The berries are available well into winter, if somebody else hasn’t collected them first.  Collecting them is not easy – a very fiddly job.  They can be used to make a strong-tasting sauce, and also as a medicinal component in preparations such as hand creams.

4 thoughts on “Fruits/berries

  1. Ben

    Just enjoying reading through your website and got to this page, then I realised i had something to share! When foraging you should be on the look out for a Strawberry Tree, the autumn borne fruit of this tree is softly spiky on the outside a little bitty but tastes like a mild plum, very nice! They also sweeten up beautifully in a forager’s crumble.

  2. JS

    Berberis produces what are nown to cooks as barberries, first becoming known to me in 1986 with Claudia Roden’s latest edition of “Middle Eastern Food”, published again that year. They are used for flavouring, whole or ground, in Iranian dishes especially, and she rates them highly. Have a look!

  3. Adam

    Dear Geoffrey,
    I hope that you will forgive me, I love your blog, but I am a beginner in foraging. My health is very weak and I am looking for natural ways to support it. My body is asking for fresh food all the time in order to heal from disease. Do you know of any specific places in the Univeristy of Sussex or near Brighton and Hove where I can forage elderberries or any other fruit? I have just moved in to the area and I am really not familiar with public places, parks, wild etc where legal foraging is possible. A few pieces of advice about specific locations would appreciated very much. Would devil’s dyke or any other nearby countryside be a good choice?
    Kind Regards,

    1. Geoff Dann Post author


      There are elderberries all over the place in Brighton, and you are free to forage them anywhere. Try up near the racecourse, heading down towards the sea. Or anywhere on the downs. Elder is very common.



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