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November bushes, berries and seeds

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

As foliage tints and falls, one notices shrubs that are still green. Ivy is an obvious example, as is garden privet - the species common in garden hedges. The latter does have some leaves turning yellow and falling but keeps most of them green throughout the winter. The narrower-leaved wild privet gets a lot thinner, sometimes with quite a lot of yellow tint, but it usually retains at least some foliage.

Other shrubs which still have green foliage include buddleia and bramble. Buddleia sheds its foliage - sometimes producing muddy tints and sometimes not - but at the same time produces new leaf shoots that remain small until the spring: the two processes overlap and you can often see both types of leaves on the plant in November. Bramble continues to lose leaves during the month, with some turning yellow or even an intense red, but others remaining green.

Woodland tendrils of honeysuckle can also be showing new leaf shoots from early in the month, though generally they do not do this until December. Honeysuckles in more suburban settings may not go bare at all and can even still be showing the occasional flower early in the month.

On other shrubs some foliage can linger on. Hawthorn and blackthorn mostly lose their leaves in October but may hang onto some - tinted or even still green - until late in the month, Dogwood may also keep some leaves (green or an attractive maroon) into the first half of November, and once it sheds its twigs they are a bright maroon colour too. Also in the first half, spindle and forsythia can both sport an attractive mix of colours - golds, yellows and pinks on spindle, yellow and some maroon on forsythia - and you may see some reddish leaves on guelder rose.

Bracken still has some tint - yellow or gold, maybe even fronds that are still green - into the first half of November, though the overwhelming majority has died back to brown by now. Elder and traveller's joy can all hold onto some green-yellow leaves right till the end of the month, and Russian vine may also still have some foliage. Snowberry loses its leaves inconspicuously as leaf fall comes to an end, mainly shedding them green but with some shrivelling.


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.

Many other shrubs still have some berries left over from October, though as the month goes on more and more of the edible ones are consumed by birds, mice or squirrels. This is true of hips on dog rose, haws on hawthorn and sloes on blackthorn, though in all three cases you can find bushes with quite a few berries even late in the month. As the month progresses any remaining haws or sloes tend to go 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, guelder rose and whitebeam berries may survive even after their foliage is gone, and you can occasionally see the red berries of woody nightshade (aka bittersweet). Black berries that you may just come across include those of dogwood and privet (usually wild privet, though garden privet is possible). Note also the bright orange berries of stinking iris on a plant whose fronds look a bit like oversized daffodil leaves.

Ivy is covered with berries, but they are not yet ripe - still green, though with a black cap. 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 have masses of red berries, though some may be starting to fall or being eaten during the month. The red berries on female yew trees continue to fall to the ground (or get eaten by birds) as the month goes on, though some may remain on the tree.

On heathland gorse can sport some yellow flowers, while in gardens later in the month winter jasmine shrubs and winter flowering cherry trees burst into bloom. In the same place viburnum continues to flower. Rhododendron may put out flower buds though they will not bloom until May. In hedgerows on chalk soils, old man’s beard, the seed of traveller’s joy, takes on the fluffy appearance that gives it its name, if it has not already done so in late October: it seems much more abundant than the plant's flowers were in July and August.

Seeds and catkins on trees

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 early in the month if they have not already done so in late October, matching last year's which are still on the tree (though the new cones are closed while last year's are open). 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 still on the tree are the spherical seed cases of London planes, which turn brown early in the month if they have not already done so, and the bunches of dried keys on female ash trees. Some limes retain some of their winged fruit and beech has a few open nut cases still on its twigs. Dried brown clusters of hornbeam seeds may remain even after the leaves have fallen. Likewise sycamore can keep bunches of seeds on bare twigs (it is easy to confuse them at a casual glance with ash seeds) and some field maples or Norway maples hold onto a few seeds.

More November pages:

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