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Pheasant Berry - Leycesteria formosa

Pheasant Berry - Leycesteria formosa

Main features

  • An ornamental native shrub that can be found as a garden escapee in woodland, hedgerows and parkland

  • Forms long thin canes that turn from green to purple-red

  • Oval leaves narrowing at the tip to a point

  • Veins on leaves are purple-red

  • Dangling stalk of flowers with bell shaped purple-red bracts

  • Flowers are white tubes with five-lobes

  • Flowers followed by berries oval berries that mature to a brown/black

  • Ripe berries are extremely soft

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Pheasant Berry - Leycesteria formosa 

Edible plant - novice

Other common names: Himalayan Honeysuckle, Elisha's Tears, Flowering Nutmeg, Himalayan Nutmeg, Chocolate Berry


Scientific name meaning: Leycetseria is derived from the name of horticulturalist William Leycester. Formosa means having a connection to Taiwan

Season All year

Habitat - where will I find it? An ornamental shrub imported from the Himalayas, it is found in planting schemes. It is also a garden escapee and found in hedgerows, along fence lines, near other trees and in woodland

Description - what does it look like? Pheasant Berry form tall thin green canes, that eventually turn burgundy red. The leaves a roughly oval shaped thinning to a point at the tip. The leaf veins are burgundy red.

The flowers form on long dangling purple-red stalks with similar coloured bracts forming bell-shaped domes along the stem. The flowers are white tubes with five petal-like lobes.

In late summer, the flower are followed by glossy egg-shaped berries that turn from green, to purple to brown/black

Possible lookalikes A very distinctive plant. It may be mistaken for a Fuschia on first glance, but the bell-shaped flower bracts would confirm identification on closer inspection

Use as a food The berries when very ripe are edible and ave a treacle/caramel flavour. They can be used like any soft fruit but care must be taken when harvesting as they are extremely soft

Use in herbal medicine Has been used to treat cystitis

If you are suffering from any ailment or need medical advice, please see your General Practitioner

Other uses Whistles and flutes can be made from the hollow stems

Hazards None known

Importance to other species Birds are particularly fond of the berries

Always stay safe when foraging. You need to be 100% sure of your identification, 100% sure that your foraged item is edible, and 100% sure that you are not allergic to it (it is good practice to always try a small amount of any new food you are consuming). If in doubt, leave it out!

Pheasant Berry - Leycesteria formosa
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