Today we’re look at an interesting berry with a funny name: FARKLEBERRY. Yes that’s the real name, and it is a real fruit.
The Farkleberry is a large shrub tree with small, hard black berries that mature in the fall but are inedible. This berry is also referred to as sparkleberry. The inedible berries themselves are relatively tasteless but birds and other wildlife will indulge and enjoy them. The evergreen or persistent-leaved shrub tree is usually found on acidic soils, sandy and well-drained fields. It particularly loves the wet bottomlands in east Texas. They grow wild throughout the Midwest and Southeast United States. It has small, bell-shaped, drooping white or pinkish flowers in loose racemes followed by small, black inedible fruit that matures in the fall. Interestingly enough, the farkleberry is actually related to a huckleberry, and some folks have been known to cook the farkleberries and make farkleberry jelly.
The farkleberry is definitely a unique berry type and particularly in Arkansas politics associated with its Governor (Fabus) during the 1950’s to mid-1960’s, farkleberry became the symbolic term referencing all things unique to Arkansas politics.
The farkleberry plant itself is pretty when blooming in the wild, but as mentioned it isn’t one that you want to eat. The root bark extract from it, however, can be used to treat diarrhea; and the bark itself is used for leather tanning and its wood for making tool handles.
History records that a Muscogee Indian, Creek Chief of the Upper Creeks, was one of the first known recorded users of farkleberries for physical ailments in 1765. Other Native Indians had used various wild varieties of berries in treating various physical ailments as well.
Unrelated to the real Farkleberry but similar in name only is the dice game, Farkle. It is always a fun addition to action-packed get together whether at home or at church. We first played this game the other year and found that it is definitely a fun fast-moving, challenging game for adults.
Whether it’s Farkle or Farkleberry, you’ve just learned about a unique berry and game.