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Schisandra Berries Offer Medicinal Benefits
If youre looking for a new challenge, you might consider Schisandra berries, especially if you are interested in fruits with herbal and medicinal benefits. The perennial vine bears clusters of pea-size red berries and is hardy in Zones 4-8.
Its not as vigorous as wild grapevine, but it needs support, even as simple as a single wire trellis, says Jesse Stevens, owner of Sys Trees in Oxford County, Maine.
He starts plants from seed and sells 2 or 3-year-old plants. He also has a row of Schisandra in his 2-acre orchard thats filled with more than 100 species of woody tree crops, including exotic fruits and nuts, along with common fruit trees.
Schisandra is native to Asia and referred to as the Five Flavor berry because its sweet, salty, bitter, pungent and sour. While some growers say they like the flavor of the berries and leaves, Stevens says it has a tart, piney flavor, and Schisandra fruit is mostly used by herbalists. The berries ripen in late summer or early fall, and he dries them for a tea additive and makes tincture for a mild tonic as an energy boost.
I grow in a no-spray environment because I want to see what they do in typical conditions, he says. Schisandra is fairly easy to grow and bears fruit in 3 or 4 years. Its shallow, fibrous root system requires it to be in root-free soil with organic matter. Stevens uses deep mulch to keep the plant cool at the base.
Though one Schisandra vine pollinates itself, Stevens recommends buying two plants in case one dies. He also suggests that people interested in new crops consider arctic kiwi, which is also a viny plant. It requires some shade and bears smooth grape-size fruit that tastes like kiwi.
He ships plants and bare roots in the spring and fall from his Maine orchard. Schisandra plants sell for $25. Email him for a list of all available plants and prices.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Sys Trees, Oxford County, Maine (ph 207-595-9723, systrees@gmail.com).

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2023 - Volume #47, Issue #3