Spindle berries are my favourite fruit of the autumn. From inconspicuous little green flowers in the spring, the oddest, brightest and most extravagant seeds grow.
The fruitcase in an astounding lipstick vibrant pink and when ripe they open to display a fluorescent orange seed. Most plants make do with dry seeds in a papery dead case, but the spindle pouts its glory in colours that seem almost artificial and unnatural in their unexpected vibrancy.
The wood is tough and sharp and was used to making spinning spindles, knitting needles and even toothpicks. Folk law says when used to make a meat skewer, the wood will keep all meat impaled upon it sweet.
In Germany it is called Rotkehlchenbrot or Robin’s Bread and from watching the bush in my garden I understand why . The robins adore the orange fruit and hang upside down on the long branches to pull them out from the pink lips. Black birds and black caps will eat them too and the poisonous seed passes harmlessly through their digestive tracts to be flown to new hedgerow places, where they take root and eventually make more bread for the hungry robins!