Can you eat silverthorn berries?
Do they taste good?
The eleagnus family has plenty of edibles in it, though they’re not well known. The best-known edible is the goumi berry – but the most common plant you’ll see around central and north Florida is the “silverthorn,” also known as Eleagnus pungens. If you’ve wondered “are silverthorn berries edible,” this post is for you.
Finding and Eating Silverthorn Berries
Because we’ve had a mild winter, the berries are popping up a bit earlier than usual. Silverthorn berries are normally a February fruit, but I got a few ripe ones at the end of January. It’s hard to beat something that makes fruit so early, stands the cold, and stays evergreen. Though most people grow silverthorn as an ornamental hedge plant, it’s a good edible and a good nitrogen fixer. Plant it in lousy soil and it will still thrive.
I’ve got them growing near my citrus trees and as they grow bigger, I’ll chop them back and use the trimmings for mulch. That way they’re simultaneously feeding the ground with their roots and with what I drop. Win-win.
The fruits taste like a tart-sweet cherry. Quite nice. If you don’t have any of these yet, go buy a few. They’re lovely, fast-growing and hardy plants that fit excellently into a food forest.
Even if you aren’t currently growing silverthorn, keep an eye out – chances are, you can snag some berries locally. This is your window of opportunity – seize it!