Thursday, November 28, 2013

Crane-berries, Thanksgiving, and Sandhill Cranes...

Cranberries...people either love them or hate them. I'm one that loves them, so earlier this week while thinking about the big feast, I decided to research how cranberries were grown. I knew they were native berries that grew in bogs, etc., but I didn't really know the mechanics of it. Before learning about their cultivation, however, I stumbled across a history of the berry and was delighted to learn cranberries were named after one of my favorite birds, the Sandhill Crane...

Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) blossoms watercolor painting
Pilgrims and other early European settlers thought the tiny cranberry blossom resembled a Sandhill Crane and soon took to calling them crane-berries. Over the years, the name of the sweet and tangy native fruit was shortened to cranberry.
With the long slender stem, the pink-white petals that curve back forming a head, the red on at the top of the stamen creating a "forehead," which then curves down to a long tapered "bill," it's easy to see how a cranberry blossom would make people think of a Sandhill Crane...

Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) watercolor painting
A long slender neck, a whitish head, a rosy red forehead, and a long bill....yep, looks like a cranberry blossom to me! 
Cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) are native to North America. They are unique and grow only in acid peat soil with a supply of fresh water, sand and a long growing season (April to November, which makes them the perfect Thanksgiving treat!). They also require dormancy and cold temps in winter to complete their life cycle. Cranberries grow on vines in beds made up of layers of sand, peat, gravel and clay. Mother Nature created the original "bogs" from glacial deposits. Man continues to refine the process today:

Click here for "Cranberries 101" - an introduction to how cranberries grow from the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association

Click here for a history of cranberries from the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association

Click here for a description of cranberry crop pollination by bees

Click here for the heath benefits of cranberries


Happy Thanksgiving!
(...and yeah! for the crane berry.)

16 comments:

TexWisGirl said...

how cool is that?! loved that bit of history!

blessings to you and yours, today, kelly!

KaHolly said...

The wonderful Cranberry!! I have a 2.5 acre wet maadow up here in Nova Scotia chuck-a-luck-a full of cranberries! (And where there aren't cranberries, there are blueberries!). Lovely pictures. Originally from Mass., I used to love to go to the cranberry bogs in the fall.

Sue said...

When we travel in Wisconsin around the Black River Falls area, there are tons of cranberry bogs--but man made, nowadays!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Montanagirl said...

That is VERY cool! I always learn something new when I visit your blog. And it's amazing how the Cranberries resemble Sandhill Cranes!!

Kerri Farley said...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Janice K said...

My, what a resemblance! Beautiful flower and beautiful bird. I had never heard the history.

Betsy Adams said...

Hi Kelly, Hope you all had a Happy Thanksgiving also. I love Sandhill Cranes. My oldest son sees them near his home in Galveston, TX during the winter…. He's gotten some great photos.

I love Cranberries also --and definitely think of Cranberries going with Thanksgiving Dinner….

Hugs,
Betsy

Tim Garza said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tim Garza said...

Wow - thanks for sharing that. I had no idea about the history of the name!

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Ana Mínguez Corella said...

Just beautiful.. :-)))

Roy Norris said...

Perfect watercolours Kelly.
Yes, Cranberries are nice.
One of the 'Super foods' as they are named over here.

Tammie Lee said...

both your paintings are lovely.
i had no idea as to what the flower looked like.
reminds me a bit of a shooting star. lovely weekend to you and yours Kelly.

eileeninmd said...

Kelly, Lovely post. I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful!! I love your Crane painting, it is beautiful. Have a happy Sunday and week ahead!

Laure Ferlita said...

You come up with the dangdest things! Love this! And the sketches are fabulous. Thanks for sharing and I hope y'all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Kelly said...

Thanks, everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends. I was so happy to read that cranberries were named after cranes! Very fun. The small cranberry blossoms definitely look like Sandhill Cranes!

Guy said...

What beautiful water colours.

Guy