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by Fred Wiggins
(Madison, MS)


Sky Lake Mystery Shrub

Came across this very striking shrub or small tree (this one in the 8-12 foot range) near the Sky Lake swamp, North of Yazoo City, Mississippi. Not IN the swamp, just growing near it.

The bark was bright coral, the limbs sort of ropy or sinewy, and the berries green turning to dark blue. Picture attached.

Hi Fred, what a great shrub. When I first saw this I thought it might be Cornus stolonifera, sometimes also called Cornus sericea, for good reason. Known commonly as Red Osier Dogwood, this is a fabulous native plant.

It tends to grow as a thicket or group, which your shrub is not, and also the berries seem to be arranged differently.

Other possibilities: some kind of Prunus, in the sour cherry or Prunus melanocarpa group. These also like an area that has access to water, however, their preferred situation would be confined to rocky or gravelly slopes above a water source, not necessarily close to the swamp.

Then I looked for native shrubs that grow in your area, and here are the possibilities:

Red Buckeye

Callicarpa linnaeus or American Beautyberry(same page as above, scroll down a little)or look on this page for a picture of the beautiful berries in the Starkville Daily News

Also scroll further and see more about Clethra alnifolia, or Summersweet, also called Sweet Pepperbush.

You have no end of great possibilities there – it looks like you’re in shrub heaven!

Best of luck with the hunt for the identity of your shrub!