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Twinberry, BC Coastal Region
Twinberry, Photo By Bud Logan

The Twinberry plant is a long-lived deciduous shrub which grows up to 4 m in height. Leaves are bright green, elliptical, and paired opposite each other on the stem. The flowers are small, tubular and yellow, they grow in pairs that are surrounded by leaves. The plant flowers in June and July. The leaves turn from green to a striking dark red in late summer as the fruit ripens.

The paired berries are black and about 1 cm in diameter and they are unpleasantly bitter-tasting, I know this from testing them. They have limited food use but can be used as a dye for hair and to dye other materials. The fruits, stems, and leaves were also used for a variety of medicinal purposes.

The plant is found throughout the Pacific Northwest as far north as the mid-coast of BC. Habitats are generally moist forest openings, swamps, streamsides, and meadow edges, ranging in elevation from sea level along the Pacific Coast to sub-alpine sites in the mountains.

Twinberry, BC Coastal Range
Twinberry, Photo By Bud Logan

The plant is particularly known for attracting crows, as well as black bears and grizzly bears when it grows in the wild. The Twinberry plant is also used by the robin, the chestnut-backed chickadee, the house finch, and the rufous-sided towhee. Hummingbirds like the nectar in the flowers, as do butterflies and bees are a steady visitor.

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