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These blue berries are growing in clusters on a medium size bush in Southern Ontario, Canada.

What are they, and are they edible?

Here are some details:

  • The leafs are leathery and slippery.
  • The seeds are about the size of the berry, but flat and have a small ridge down the middle of one side.
  • The flesh is the same color as the skin and slightly fluffy.
  • It does not taste like much when touched to the tongue, possibly slightly like an overripe blueberry.
  • These fruits appear quite overripe at this time.

Click on pictures for closer view.

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  • 1
    Hi Jonathon. There are so many similar berries in Ontario I'm having a lot of trouble trying to narrow it down. A potential candidate is the Saskatoon Berry. These are great pictures but could you add a close-up of the inside of a berry? Does it have a pit? If it's Saskatoon the pit's only edible after cooking. I see one in your top picture that has white lines on it. Are those cracks? Do the leaves feel leathery or soft? Don't eat it yet! – Sue Sep 5 '17 at 23:18
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    @Sue Added. It looks to me like those were cracks but they healed over. – Jonathon Sep 6 '17 at 21:13
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    Could be one of the many varieties of elderberries, or a saskatoon, i thought saskatoons had a more distinct tuft on the end, for lack of a better word, are they smooth on the end opposite the stem or do they have a star shaped tuft? – Nate W Sep 6 '17 at 21:23
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    They seem pretty flat and smooth, free of distinctive markings. Definitely do not appear to be Saskatoon, leaves and berries are wrong. That is an interesting idea about elderberries. They do share many similarities with them. But I did just pick some elderberries from the neighbors a few weeks ago, and they definitely are different in a lot of small ways. Maybe mine is some wild variety. – Jonathon Sep 6 '17 at 22:06
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    I think elderberries are generally smaller as well and have larger clumps of fruit but i know there are a few varieties so i am not sure. Will be curious if anyone has the answer! – Nate W Sep 6 '17 at 22:27
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Disclaimer: I may be wrong, don't eat things that you are not 100% sure are edible!!!

This is a Nannyberry. It is edible.

More information here.

Wikipedia Link for convenience.

Fun fact: The English translation of its German name is "Canadian Snowball" (Kanadischer Schneeball).

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    This is definitely it. I even think I remember the big bushy white flowers now that I am looking at these pictures. – Jonathon Sep 8 '17 at 11:00
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    Very nice find Peter1807! I couldn't find it on lists of Canadian Berries or even by picture. You have a great eye! – Sue Sep 10 '17 at 21:56
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A bit more methodical approach to IDing this plant:

Opposite leaves + a corymb of multiple dark-colored, round drupes is very indicative of the genus Viburnum.

If we check BONAP and Ontario Trees & shrubs, we can see that only a handful of Viburnum species are found in Ontario.

  • From Ontario Trees & shrubs:

    • Viburnum alnifolium (Hobblebush)
    • Viburnum dentatum (Smooth Arrowwood)
    • Viburnum lantanoides (Hobblebush)
    • Viburnum lentago (Nannyberry)
    • Viburnum nudum (Wild Raisin)
    • Viburnum rafinesqueanum (Downy Arrowwood)
    • Viburnum recognitum (Smooth Arrowwood)
  • (BONAP additionally shows V. acerifolium, V. lantana, V. edule, and V. opulus).

If we examine images of each of these (found by following the links at Ontario Trees & shrubs), we can see that the majority have the wrong leaf shape or leaf margin (i.e., toothiness). In fact, of all the viburnum species listed, Viburnum lentago (Nannyberry) is the only one that appears morphologically similar to the OP's specimen.

So as Peter1807's answer suggests, this is very likely a native shrub to Ontario called Viburnum lentago (commonly called Nannyberry).

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Source: Demeter's Dish

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Source: BONAP

Are they edible??

According to Ontario Trees & shrubs, the fruit are edible. Amy over at Demeter's Dish provides the following taste profile:

The taste is mildly raisin-like. Slightly sweet and with a not-unpleasant grainy texture, similar to dates.

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