I’ve tasted them, and they are sweet with a hint of astringency, like a dry wine.
They are cultivated, not wild plants, in the north Midwest. I just took the pictures so they ripened in late august/early September
Thanks for the tip, but being a faithful follower of the Straight Dope and the methodology of Cecil Adams, That was the first thing I did. He doesn’t know what they are.
The elderberries I’m familiar with are much much smaller and seedier. Unless these are a domesticated cultivar bred for large berries, I don’t think thats it. I’ll look though and see if I can find a variety that produces such large berries.
Definitely not an elder tree. The leaves and branches are like those of an apple tree or similar fruit tree, not any kind of berry bush. In fact the fruit looks superficially like crab apples, apart from the colour.
A description or picture of what’s inside the fruit would help to narrow it down.
Yeah, I was going to say they resemble aronia, which my mother has several plants of in her yard and is apparently one of the latest health food fads, but I wouldn’t describe them as sweet with a hint of astringency. They are definitely astringent with maybe a hint of sweetness. But they sure do look like that.
the reason I’m leaning more toward Black ChokeBerry instead of Huckleberries is that the fruit clusters in umbel shape that hangs down more than multiple smaller clusters that your huckleberry pictures show.
Aronia/black chokeberries have a very pronounced tannin astringency to them. Your description of “dry wine” is just right for the chokeberries I’ve had, but the word “hint of” really isn’t. They’re supposed called chokeberries for their astringency and tendency to make you pucker. It’s a bit like a cranberry, I suppose, like that. But perhaps maybe you have a particularly sweet cultivar of that berry or something.
I’m going to bet that choke berries are the origin of the hundreds of pits that robins spit out all over our yard. Every year we notice dozens of robins flying back and forth from some trees in a neighbor’s yard into some tall trees in our yard. I’ve watched them then open their bills and yack up a pit which looks vaguely like a cherry pit, but it’s much smoother. Images online of choke berry pits look just like them.
So they scatter them all over our yard and the pits sprout into tiny saplings that we have to pull out.