Coralberry, winter beauty
Shrubs may just seem to be one big mass of green and brambles that create a barrier to entry at the forest’s edge, but sometimes they are worth a closer look.
Coralberry is a beautiful native winter shrub that is a rare treat to find in eastern Pennsylvania. It’s pink berries form in clusters along the stem and become visible once leaves have fallen. The berries provide food and cover for ground birds like thrushes and robins and in the summer the nearly imperceptible flowers provide nectar for specific pollinators including species of moths and other insects.
Another common name is buckbrush, possibly because deer eat its leaves. Other mammals like bear and rodents, eat the whole plant.
Shrubs like coralberry provide great habitat for small mammals and birds, are hosts for pollinators, and help prevent erosion. If you are walking near the edge of the woods, and notice a patch of pink, or find your feet getting caught on lateral stems along the ground, you might be in a thicket of coralberry, bringing some color to the browns and grays of winter.