Winter Shrub ID: Maleberry

I met Maleberry (Lyonia ligustrina) when it was flowering in June of this year. I think the superficial resemblance of its fruit to that of Coastal Sweet-pepperbush kept me from noticing this plant as something different. Like a novice birdwatcher that thinks all ducks are Mallards, I had lumped this plant in with a more showy shrub. Finding this plant in bloom allowed me to finally see it.


Now that I know where to find a few of these shrubs (there are some at the Plainville Cemetery), I've taken time to get to know them in different seasons. The five-parted fruit capsules of Maleberry are arranged in branched clusters, and the winter twig tips are brown with handsome red buds. In early December, some stems still retain a dried up terminal leaf.


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