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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Which berry-plants to put in your "birdscaped" yard, that'll make it in Texas

    You’ve seen how much some berry-eating birds need to consume in a day, now take action in the one place you have control—your yard. Fall is a great time to plant shrubs (after they have become dormant). So that you can get started planning and planting your new berry-full yard, here's a partial list of the top native berries utilized by birds.

Includes many varieties in the genus Ilex.  My personal favorite is a tree-form Yaupon Holly, which grows to 10-15 feet. For a complete list visit the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website. Berries usually are on the male plants only. The berries are high in carbohydrates and protein. Fruits are usually eaten as soon as they ripen by as many as 40 different bird species, who usually stay around all day or until the plant’s bare.


Includes species such as Arrowwood (Viburnum acerifolium), Southern Arrowwood (V. dentatum), American Cranberrybush (V. opulus var.americanum), Nannyberry (V. lentago), and Wild Raisin (V. nudum var.cassinoides). See a more complete list of native viburnum on the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center website. Produces fruits late summer–December, Fruits have a high fat, carbohydrate, and protein content, making them very valuable to migratory songbirds that need sustenance for their long journey, as well to birds overwintering in areas where insects are not available.


Includes Black Elderberry (Sambucus nigra) and Common Elderberry (S.  Canadensis) which grow well here. Its relatives are "iffy": Blue Elder (S. nigra ssp. caerulea), and Blue Elderberry (S. nigra ssp. cerulea)— and Red Elderberry (S. racemosa). They fruit August–late October. The berries are rich in carbohydrates and protein making common elderberries an important food for migrating songbirds. Provides cover habitat for birds.

Roughleaf Dogwood

Not to be confused with Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) or Silky Dogwood (C. obliqua), which are troublesome here. Fruits in late summer. High-fat berries are important for migratory and wintering birds.


Grows best in partial shade, requiring little water. Often called American Beautyberry. Fruit production occurs from midsummer through early fall. Fruits are rich in carbohydrates and a favorite of birds preparing for migration or fattening up for a north Texas winter.


OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at in Denton.


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