Mystery berry revealed

You guys are just too smart – I was hoping to trap someone into guessing a Vaccinium species. But no, you all knew this was a Taxus spp. (yew):

Because Taxus is a gymnosperm, this reproductive structure is actually a cone.  It’s botanically incorrect to call it a fruit of any sort, as the term "fruit" refers specifically to angiosperms. Taxus cones are modified for seed dispersal to include an edible, fleshy aril (very good, @GardenHoe!), whose taste and color are attractive to birds. The seed (which is toxic, like all vegetative parts of the plant – you’re right, Jimbo!) passes through the gut undigested.

The toxin in Taxus is the alkaloid taxine.  Like many alkaloids, it’s a potent neurotoxin. Other alkaloids you’re more familiar with include caffeine, nicotine, and codeine.

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Linda Chalker-Scott

Dr. Linda Chalker-Scott has a Ph.D. in Horticulture from Oregon State University and is an ISA certified arborist and an ASCA consulting arborist. She is WSU’s Extension Urban Horticulturist and a Professor in the Department of Horticulture, and holds two affiliate associate professor positions at University of Washington. She conducts research in applied plant and soil sciences, publishing the results in scientific articles and university Extension fact sheets. Linda also is the award-winning author of five books: the horticultural myth-busting The Informed Gardener (2008) and The Informed Gardener Blooms Again (2010) from the University of Washington Press and Sustainable Landscapes and Gardens: Good Science – Practical Application (2009) from GFG Publishing, Inc., and How Plants Work: The Science Behind the Amazing Things Plants Do from Timber Press (2015). Her latest effort is an update of Art Kruckeberg’s Gardening with Native Plants of the Pacific Northwest from UW Press (2019). In 2018 Linda was featured in a video series – The Science of Gardening – produced by The Great Courses. She also is one of the Garden Professors – a group of academic colleagues who educate and entertain through their blog and Facebook pages. Linda’s contribution to gardeners was recognized in 2017 by the Association for Garden Communicators as the first recipient of their Cynthia Westcott Scientific Writing Award. "The Garden Professors" Facebook page - "The Garden Professors" Facebook group - Books:

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