This section is from the book "Sub-Alpine Plants Or Flowers Of The Swiss Woods And Meadows", by H. Stuart Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Sub-Alpine Plants: Or, Flowers of the Swiss Woods and Meadows.
Lonicera Alpigena is a bush of about three feet which has much larger leaves and a shining berry resembling a small, double cherry. It frequents woods and rocky places in the mountains. The Black Honeysuckle (L. nigra) is a sub-alpine shrub, a yard or two in height, with small flowers in pairs, which develop into a pair of black, rounded berries united at the base.
In many of the shady ravines and wooded gorges one sees an elegant Alpine Elder-tree (Sambucus racemosa), which in late summer and autumn is usually heavily laden with dense clusters of small round berries of a blood-red colour. It grows well among the granite boulders and tall ferns bordering the road which skirts the Tete Noir and overlooks the famous Trient Gorge between Martigny and Argentiere. Indeed, most of the fruit-bearing shrubs and bushes mentioned in this chapter can be seen in a walk along that picturesque route. Here also can sometimes be found the fruits of two kinds of Polygonatum, or Solomon's Seal, as well as those of an allied plant called Streptopus amplexifolius, or Knot-foot. The globular, crimson fruits hang on delicate flower-stalks springing from the leaf-axils and always bent at right angles halfway down, so that this curious plant with very handsome ' berries' is unmistakable when once seen. It is, however, by no means common. It sometimes grows by the side of huge granite boulders, as near the main road crossing the Col des Montets, and occasionally it can be seen under the shade of a Mountain Ash, whose scarlet berries ripen at the end of August in the higher regions.
Autumn visitors to the Alps sometimes have their attention arrested by a spiny bush of stiff habit, with narrow, olive-green leaves and orange-yellow almost stemless berries, which are much more densely attached in axillary clusters to the main axis of the shrub than to its branches. This is the Sea Buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides). In other countries it grows on the sea coast, and in England and the north of France it is planted on sand-hills to mat the sand together, but in parts of the Alps it grows naturally in the sandy beds of rivers, both by glacier streams and large rivers such as the Rhone. At the foot of the Col de Balme we have often seen bushes of it situated as high as 5500 feet. It is a somewhat curious example of a littoral plant which ascends to considerable heights in the mountains, though where it does so it is always either in river beds or on steep, sandy screes. But even in such places on the mountains it very probably answers the same useful purpose and prevents the steep slopes of sand and debris from being washed away by torrents of surface water.