How to identify wild fruits

Here are 12 familiar, and less familiar, wild fruits to look out for when in the countryside this autumn. 

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Illustrations by Felicity Rose Cole

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1 Dog rose Rosa canina(above)

Vigorous hedgerow briar: our most common wild rose. Oval to flask-shaped scarlet rosehips.

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2 Black nightshade Solanum nigrim

Tiny, tomato-like annual with dull black berries. Not to be confused with poisonous deadly nightshade.

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3 Burnet rose Rosa pimpinellifolia

Low shrub of coastal dunes and chalk grassland. Unlike other wild roses produces purple-black hips.

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4 Bittersweet Solanum dulcamara

Woody scrambler with red, oval, bitter-sweet berries. Also known as woody nightshade.

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5 Spindle Euonymus europaeus

Small hedgerow shrub with garish clusters of coral-pink berries held in orange sheaths.

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6 Black bryony Tamus communis

Britain’s only wild yam. Climbing tendrils twine around hedgerow plants. Red, poisonous berries.

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7 Elder Sambucus nigra 

Small hedgerow tree with flat clusters of edible black berries. Frothy white flowers in May–June.

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8 Honeysuckle lonicera periclymenum

Vigorous shrub that entwines around trees and hedgerow plants. Clusters of bright red berries.

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9 Hawthorn Crataegus monogyna

Small or medium-sized thorny tree of hedgerows, rough ground and upland areas. Scarlet oval ‘haws’.

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10 Rowan Sorbus aucuparia

Upland tree with clusters of small, scarlet berries (popular with birds). Also known as mountain ash.

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11 Wild service tree Sorbus torminalis

Often-overlooked tree of ancient woods. Clusters of brown, spotted fruits (once used to flavour beer).

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12 Crab-apple Malus sylvestris

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Thorny tree with small, hard, yellow, apple-shaped fruits that can be used to make jelly.