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November bushes, berries and seeds

Other November pages: Leaf fall and autumn coloursFlowers • Birds and insects Weather

Put your cursor over any photo to see its caption, or click here to see more November berry and seed photos.

Once leaves have fallen from all other bushes, one notices those that are still green. Ivy is an obvious example – its berries remain green with a black cap throughout the month. Privet hedges - the kind you find in gardens - are still green, though with some leaves turning yellow and falling: they generally do not go entirely bare even in the depths of winter, however. You can also see the wild version of this bush which keeps some foliage (narrower and with more pointed leaves than the garden version) and maybe some black berries well into the winter.

Other shrubs which hold onto some foliage include buddleia and bramble. Buddleia often seems to have done most of its shedding by November, with the remaining leaves being the new shoots that will start to grow again in the spring. Bramble continues to lose foliage during the month, with some leaves turning yellow or even an intense red, but again it does not usually go entirely bare.

With other species the picture is less clear. Elder sheds most of its remaining leaves during November but can keep a few leaves into December, at least in warmer years: it sometimes produces faint yellow tints but not always. Dogwood may keep some leaves (green or an attractive maroon) into the early part of the month, as can forsythia. Honeysuckle can retain its foliage in suburban or semi-wild settings in towns, but seems to lose it all in woodlands.

Once leaves fall, the remaining berries become very visible and prominent. That is certainly true of the snowberry, whose white spherical fruits have in fact been around since late summer and can stay on the plant all winter. (This is another shrub which keeps some foliage after the end of the main leaf fall, though it eventually does go bare.)

Many other shrubs still have some berries left over from October, though as the month more and more of the edible ones are consumed by birds or squirrels. This is true of rosehips on wild rose bushes and haws on hawthorn, though in both cases you can find bushes with quite a few berries left even late in the month. Sloes seem to be less attractive to birds (or perhaps harder to get at) and often linger on the bare twigs of blackthorn. Any haws or sloes left on the branches by the end of the month tend to be going over, however - turning maroon in the case of haws, or black and even shrivelled in the case of sloes.

Other berries you can see include the bright red ones of holly, the fluted pink ones of spindle and, in hedgerows bright red strings of berries on now leafless climbers – probably black bryony, though white bryony is also possible. A few rowan and whitebeam berries may survive even after all the tree's foliage is gone, as may some dogwood berries. You may also see the bright orange berries of stinking iris on a plant whose fronds look a bit like oversized daffodil leaves.

In gardens and semi-wild situations, firethorn (also known as pyracantha) still sports its bright orange or red berries - consumed eagerly by birds later in the winter, though for taste or other reasons not much in demand at this stage. Cotoneaster bushes also have masses of red berries while later in the month winter flowering jasmine shrubs and winter flowering cherry trees burst into bloom.

Some of the red berries on female yew trees fall to the ground (or get eaten by birds) as the month goes, though some may remain on the tree. On heathland gorse can sport some yellow flowers. In hedgerows on chalk soils old man’s beard, the popular name for the fluffy seeds of traveller’s joy, seems much more abundant than the plant's flowers did in July and August. Bracken may have already died back by now but in places still shows yellow or golden tints, or early in the month may even still be green.

Seeds and catkins revealed

Falling leaves reveal seeds and catkins on trees. Hazel has in fact had new catkin buds on its twigs since July but they will not lengthen into the characteristic yellow lambs tails till late January or February. Likewise the catkins buds on alder, also formed in summer, will not flower till February: its new seed cones turn from green to brown during the month, to match last year's which are still on the tree. Birch also has catkin buds which do not flower until late March or early April, and may also retain some of its dried brown seed cylinders.

Similiarly awaiting the spring are the spherical seed cases of London planes and the bunches of dried keys on female ash trees (which don't seem to appear every year). Some limes also retain some of their winged fruit and beech has a few open nut cases still on its twigs. Likewise sycamore can keep bunches of seeds after its leaves have fallen (it is easy to confuse them at a casual glance with ash seeds) and some field maple or Norway maple hold onto a few seeds.

More November pages:

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