How to identify a tree with red berries

Updated February 21, 2017

Trees with red berries grow in most of the United States, with the exception of the hottest and coldest regions such as Florida and northern Minnesota. Red chokeberry is predominantly grown in zones 4 to 9 and hawthorn berries can be found in zones 4 to 8. These berry trees provide wildlife with a food source and provide you with a beautiful specimen that adds interest to the landscape. Most trees with red berries produce beautiful white flowers in the spring, which make way for the berries in the summer and fall. Look at the flowers, leaves and berries to identify a tree with red berries.

Notice the flowers in the mid-spring. Washington hawthorn trees have clusters of white flowers and are commonly grown in urban landscapes. The red chokeberry tree grows groups of small, white flowers with five petals each. Purple-knobbed stamens grow from the centre of each flower. The tree can grow up to 10 feet tall. The berries turn from bright red to reddish-purple in the fall.

Look closely at the branches for berries. Small, bright orange-red berries growing in groups of 30 or more indicate a mountain ash tree, while small red berries in groups of about 10 point to a holly tree.

Examine the tree into the winter. European mountain ash trees hold onto their berries well into the winter, and Washington hawthorn trees have orange-red berries through the fall and winter. Animals and other wildlife eat them, especially when other sources of food are not as readily available.

Check out the leaves. Peruvian pepper trees have narrow leaves, much like those of a fern. Pepper trees have large clusters of small red berries. The Pacific dogwood has medium-sized rounded green leaves, while the English holly tree grows shiny, dark leaves with points along the scalloped edges.


Take a small piece of the tree to an expert at the local cooperative extension if you need help identifying it.

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About the Author

Based in New York State, Kelly Shetsky started writing in 1999. She is a broadcast journalist-turned Director of Marketing and Public Relations and has experience researching, writing, producing and reporting. She writes for several websites, specializing in gardening, medical, health and fitness, entertainment and travel. Shetsky has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Marist College.