Snow Berry - Corpse Berry

The rain today has made the world muted with greys, greens and dusky purples. The last of the Snowberries glow from delicate branching twigs. Snowberry
Called the Corpse Berry by some families of the First Nations, one can see why in this dim light, for the beries stand out in an eerie manner in the dim undergrowth. One can make up a fairy-tale with this plant to be sure. Of course I had to make my drawing far more dramatic than it is.

The berries are edible but bitter and considered toxic in large quanitites (I'm just repeating what I read in a parroting Internet fashion. If you actually check around, the Canadian plant toxicology site only mentions one reference from 1979 that one child vomited... So to what degree of toxicity the berries hold, it is not clearly stated.) Anyway, the whole shrub was used as one would use a medicine cabinet in our modern day. From its berries, leaves, and roots (depending on which part of the plant for the complaint) sore eyes could be soothed, cuts and sores treated, fevers abated, hair washed, armpits deoderized, and itchy skin cleaned.  

And let's not omit the laxative effect.

I shall keep my eye on the cluster at the bottom of my garden to not only enjoy the blooming of its delicate pink flowers against the small blue-green leaves come summer but also to enjoy the knowledge that such a healing plant skirts the borders of my yard.