View Full Version : Need help identifying a plant in my pasture

Jul. 23, 2012, 02:39 AM
I just moved my horses and need to id a plant in the pasture. I am not good with plants, so help please! They are "shrubby," about 6' high and these are what the leaves and berries look like currently. I am in Wisconsin. I don't have a clue what this is and want to know if it could be dangerous to my horses.

Jul. 23, 2012, 09:26 AM
The berries look like gooseberries, but I've never seen gooseberries on a bush, so I don't know if that's correct. But at least it's something you can look up.

Jul. 23, 2012, 10:34 AM
Look up Beautyberry

Jul. 23, 2012, 10:41 AM
Not gooseberry. but some form of prunus. The leaves look like chokecherry but the fruit isn't right, suspect it may be pincherry.

Katy Watts
Jul. 23, 2012, 12:45 PM
look up Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis).

If they turn really dark purple, you've got the makings for some really awesome jelly or syrup. I used to make it when I lived in Michigan.

Jul. 23, 2012, 12:55 PM
The leaves are wrong for elderberry, unfortunately. Elderberry has serrated leave edges, and these are smooth.

Justa Bob
Jul. 23, 2012, 01:14 PM
Here's a place to start. I don't recognize the leaves /berries for a 6' shrub. Also matters what part of the country you are in -- and whether it's a horticulture or native plant. Very smart to figure out what's in your pastures!


Jul. 23, 2012, 01:46 PM
I don't know off the top of my head, but I will say that the Petersen Field Guide to Medicinal plants:
is terrific for identiying all sorts of things. My brother calls it the Field Guide to weeds :)

Justa Bob
Jul. 23, 2012, 01:54 PM
And another classic in the Weed dept that lives in my trunk. For those in the West - Great pics, notes if toxic, solid binding and can take a beating. Has been rained on many times. "Weeds of the West" The Field Guide to Medicinal looks great....thx!


Jul. 23, 2012, 02:35 PM
I am going to chip in with Honeysuckle bushes. They are quite prolific, have the berries starting about now. The Amur Honeysuckle bushes spread with birds eating the berries and are a terribly invasive species over here in Michigan. Probably the same for Wisconsin, and you folks have had more rain than us, so your bushes are thriving. Wiki has flower photos, berry photos of ripe berries with leaves.


My horses will chew the bushes, have not had a bad reation to chewing the shrubs in winter woodpiles, and helps horses with the "NEED to chew wood" during that season.

I have removed most of my Honeysuckle, because it is so invasive. It can cover the fence in a year, without strenuous measures to keep it weed whacked out of the wire for electricty to work. Lots of folks have the bushes for the flowers and berries. Does smell good, birds eat the berries, to create more stupid bushes!

The Amur Honeysuckle is the WORST of all Honeysuckle for spreading, is tough as nails to survive all weather issues, cold or hot. Weed spraying it only works in EARLY spring, before the leaves get their coating which prevents absorbing the spray. I have to cut or saw the trunks to get Honeysuckle removed. Then spray weed killer on the raw wood still in the ground, to get the roots dead.

Other Honeysuckle varities are not nearly that agressive of spreaders. They all are tough bushes if planted, to survive in the landscape for you.

Jul. 23, 2012, 04:41 PM
Unripe huckleberries.


Jul. 23, 2012, 05:51 PM
Leaves are still wrong:

the Huckleberry leaves don't have the "spike" at the tip of the leaf like the OP's picture has.

But it's not beautyberry either - those have serrated-edged leaves and the OP's don't

Jul. 23, 2012, 06:30 PM
Those reddish twigs under the berries are significant.

Jul. 23, 2012, 06:36 PM
For starters, it definitely is not any of the above plants mentioned by others.

It "could" be a young Serviceberry (also known as Juneberry) tree/shrub. Depending on the age of the plant, the leaves can vary from fat to more narrow like yours. And if you do some research on Serviceberry, you'll also find that it can range in height & form from tall to short & shrubby. Here's a link to some pics:


If it is Serviceberry, then it definitely IS toxic to horses (all livestock & pets for that matter), & should be removed from your pasture. (Frankly, regardless of what it turns out to be, I'd remove it from your pasture. Better safe than sorry.)

Jul. 23, 2012, 06:57 PM
It is absolutely NOT elderberry -

It could also be a red nightshade....which is also toxic.

Dad Said Not To
Jul. 23, 2012, 08:00 PM
Not honeysuckle-- they fruit along the length of the branch, not in a cluster at the end of the branch. Not any kind of nightshade-- leaves and berries are all wrong.

My vote is some kind of dogwood. The leaves and berries both match.

Jul. 23, 2012, 09:23 PM
Red Osier, dogwood family.

Jul. 23, 2012, 09:29 PM
Not service/june/saskatoon berry (Amelanchier spp), the berry is the wrong shape. I consulted with my former business partner in the tree selling business and she said prunus of some sort as well, some sort of wild cherry

Jul. 23, 2012, 09:33 PM
Lightbulb moment: Take a branch of it to your nearest nursery.

Jul. 23, 2012, 09:37 PM
LOL...you ask 100 horse people a question................

Jul. 23, 2012, 09:41 PM
Hard to tell from the size of the photo, but I'd vote for chokecherry.
What kind of seeds/pit are inside the fruit?

Jul. 23, 2012, 09:44 PM

Jul. 23, 2012, 11:53 PM
I vote with sunridge1, that's a Red Osier. I don't know whether they're toxic to horses or not. Only thing I could find was that wild animals will eat the berries, though they are not a favorite.

Jul. 24, 2012, 01:13 AM
Thank everyone for the suggestions! It does seem to match up best with the dogwood, but I think I may take a cutting of it to a nursery to double check (awesome idea, didn't ever cross my mind to ask there!)
All info I can find on red osier dogwood does not mention toxicity to horses so that would be good.

Jul. 24, 2012, 11:35 AM
Thank everyone for the suggestions! It does seem to match up best with the dogwood, but I think I may take a cutting of it to a nursery to double check (awesome idea, didn't ever cross my mind to ask there!)
All info I can find on red osier dogwood does not mention toxicity to horses so that would be good.

A local extension agent will have access to plant experts even a nursery would consult with. :yes:

Jul. 24, 2012, 03:45 PM
We have them in Kentucky, they grow up tall each year, have dark purple squishy berries, then die off, they're like big weeds.

OP, take a picture of the entire plant, that will help.

Jul. 25, 2012, 12:44 PM
I'm in the dogwood clique.