Tag Archives: Malvikodden

Stock Dove: A new species for the garden

A new bird species for the garden this morning,  a stock dove (skogdue) in the company of a woodpigeon? Stock doves are very rare breeders in my area, but seem to becoming more common. In fact, apart from one observation in 1928 and, remarkably, one bird on exactly the same day on the other side of Trondheim, I recorded the first stock dove in my county (Trøndelag) on 13th May 1982 at Malvikodden on the other side of the bay from where I live and the first spring after I moved to Norway. I would probably have missed it as I only heard the song, which I was familiar with from living in Scotland. Although breeding was never proven, singing birds were observed on Malvikodden until the last observation in 1987. It was then almost 20 years before the next breeding observation in Trøndelag (see the histogram).
An article was written about this by a neighbour, Stein Are Sæther;
Sæther 1987: Skogdua i Trøndelag. Trøndersk Natur 14: 86-94.

Number of breeding registrations of stock dove in Trøndelag from 1980 to 2021 (NB! there are several registrations of the same breeding pair, so this is not a true record of trends)
Number of records of stock dove in Trøndelag from 1980 to 2021 (NB! there are several registrations of the same birds, so this is not a true record of trends)

Lemon Berberis

Norwegian: for en norsk oversettelse av denne artikkelen (Norwegian translation), se KVANNs (Norwegian Seed Savers) Nyhetsbrev #15

The barberry in my garden has been a large 3-4 m plant since we moved here in 1984; here in full flower

There’s always been a barberry (Berberis vulgaris) in my garden, in dry soil in the root zone of my largest spruce trees. It was a large plant when we moved here in 1984 and may be wild as it’s a common plant on the other side of the bay (Malvikbukta) where it grows on shallow dry soils next to the fjord in company with sea buckthorn (Hippophae tamnoides). It is thought that this species was originally introduced in monastery gardens and later naturalised. It’s nowadays a relatively common but local plant along the Trondheimsfjord, but isn’t found much further north.

My oldest barberry grows in very dry shallow soil near to my largest spruce trees

I also planted one next to the kitchen window in order to get good views of waxwings (sidensvans) and thrushes (troster) that feast on the berries in autumn and winter:

Redwing (rødvingetrost) outside the kitchen window feeding on low-hanging barberry fruits

I also have a form with dark berries which I propagated by seed which I received in 1998:

Ethnobotany
There are many species of Berberis, and the closely related Mahonia, which many botanists consider to be a part of Berberis, that have been used traditionally for food around the world. In South America, several species were used including  the fruit of the michay (Berberis microphylla) used by the Mapuche people of Chile and Argentina. Numerous Native American tribes used various Mahonia species both fresh and dried, for jelly and jam, tea, wine and lemonade. In Japan, several species are used for drinks and at least one species is used for a drink in China. 7 species are known to be used in Nepal, both eaten fresh, pickled, distilled into alcohol and in the case of Berberis chitria, the seeds are roasted. Fruit of Mahonia acanthifolia and Mahonia napaulensis are also eaten fresh and pickled. Another Himalayan barberry (Berberis asiatica) is said to make the best Indian raisins.
However, it is in Iran (and neighbouring Afghanistan) that barberries are really an important part of the national cuisine(s), notably zereshk polow (literally barberry rice). The eastern Iranian province of  South Khorasan is the main production area of seedless Iranian barberries on (in 2014) 11,000 ha and over 9,000 tonnes of dried fruit.  Cultivation goes back 200 years or so. Most authors consider that the seedless barberry, which is propagated by suckers, is Berberis vulgaris var. asperma but others that it is a form, or hybrid, Berberis integerrima ‘Bidaneh’ (bidaneh meaning seedless). Difficulty of propagation, the spiny nature of plants and the tendency to yield every other year are problems being addressed. 
I like to let the birds, and in particular waxwings, take most of the barberries. However, I normally dry a few for my dried fruit mixes which I have for breakfast once the fresh apples are finished normally from April to when the first fresh fruit is available again in July (see   https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=25352). However, this year there were very few waxwings and I dried many more than normal (over the wood stove).

Red and black-fruited barberries
Red and black-fruited barberries

Dried barberries

I’ve been inspired by Persian cuisine many times over the years, like the Persian spice golpar from the seeds of Heracleum persicum and other Heracleum species, now the spice I use more than any other (see https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?s=golpar) and Persian shallots (see https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?s=persian+shallots).
I therefore decided to try using my dried Berberis harvest in various Iranian dishes. The first was just to give a “lemony zing” to rice. I ground the dried berries and just sprinkled on the rice before serving. 


There are numerous recipes for preparing zereshk polow which you can find easily by searching on the net (including youtube videos). It’s either a layered rice dish, but the rehydrated berries are usually sprinkled on the top as a jewel-like decoration. The berries are either rehydrated by soaking in cold water for 5-10 minutes or quickly in hot water. They are also added to melted butter which plumps them up. Saffron is often an ingredient (South Khorasan is also an important production area for saffron). The Iranian spice mix, which often contains golpar (ground seeds or the flower petals of Heracleum persicum). The pilow is usually steamed and often onions, garlic and almond slices are included.  I’d like to adapting this using barley or rye grains in place of the rice.

Other Ethnobotanical Uses
I’ve also recorded other uses of Berberis vulgaris in the ethnobotanical literature in Europe and West Asia:
Czech Republic: Snack food for children
Estonia: Spice for fermented cucumbers
Slovakia: Young shoots eaten raw in spring or added to sauces
Bulgaria: Fruit added to soups as a sour taste
Turkey: Used fresh or dried
Basque Country (Spain): Young shoots are eaten

Other species
In 2011 on a visit to the Dublin botanical garden, I tasted my way through a nice collection of Berberis in fruit and two of them stood out with good taste:

Berberis polyantha
 Berberis x carminea “Pirate King”

Nutritionally, Berberis fruits are rich in vitamin C (similar to citrus). 
In some areas, it may be unadvisable to plant Berberis vulgaris as it is an alternative host for the stem rust Puccinia graminis of wheat and barley. However, modern day varieties are usually resistent. 

Brrrrrrrrrr

It wasn’t until the last day of December towards midnight that the air temperature finally sank significantly below zero (C), an almost frost free winter month is becoming common up here. However, since New Year it hasn’t been above zero and today was the coldest yet with “sea smoke” forming on the other side of the fjord where it was maybe 5C colder. Due to the wind blowing from the east across the fjord, the air temperature increases due to the relatively warm water. Makes for a nice view from the office now that the sun is also back now.
 

The wild dawn call of the Curlew

I am so fortunate every year to hear the song of the curlew (storspove) singing in the bay from early April and through most of the summer, sometimes overhead too. Sadly, there are no lapwings (vipe) any more, but at least one pair of curlew is here. But, there are no definite breeding records from the whole of Malvik kommune ever (no young birds, eggs or nests observed)..so where do they breed? This video is from 4:40 this morning! You can also here both great tit (kjøttmeis) and redwing (rødvingetrost)