The sun berry is a variety of local fruit, particularly common along the edge of roads.
Appearance and Characteristics
A particularly large patch of sun berries spreads along much of Tiger Lily Road. The plant grows best in partial sunlight, and sun berry bushes planted in an area with higher sun exposure often are stunted, growing to no more than half of their normal maximum height of approximately four feet.
Sun berry bushes are recognizable in most seasons by their narrow, spiky silvery-green leaves, standing out sharply against the very dark, hard wood of the branches. In the autumn, these leaves turn bright golden yellow. In the summer, the bushes flower, the blossoms a brilliant scarlet hue and bell-shaped. These flowers are fairly tiny and grow in close, tight clusters. Towards the end of summer these clusters are replaced with the slow ripening berries, which reach their peak in early to mid fall. Berries left on the bush are generally edible throughout most of winter, as the hardy bushes are very resistant to low temperatures. Unripened, the sun berry is hard and a pale yellow-green hue. As the berry ripens, it darkens until it reaches a brilliant orange hue.
Effects and Usage
Naturally caffeinated, the berries are a very popular stimulant food on the island. Eaten fresh off the bush, they are less concentrated than coffee beans, and are a popular breakfast food or accent among local families. When dried, both the berry's distinctive sharp sweetness and its caffeine levels are intensified. After drying, local slang refers to the berries as 'sunnies' instead. These are often brewed into a strong tea that is a regional alternative to coffee. Chocolate covered sunnies are also commonly found in local pantries.
The berry is rarely used in baking, as they tend to grow excessively mushy after exposure to high heat. However, sun berry jams and syrups are known. The most common cooking application, however, tends to be in ice cream and sorbets. Sometimes, the berries are fermented and distilled to produce what is locally known to the tourist population as Sunshine.