Saturday, January 20, 2018

Berry Picking Time

One very amazing thing about the Pacific Northwest is its ample supply of berries. The domesticated and wild varieties are endless! Of course, there are the ever popular ones like strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries, which can easily be found at U-Pick farms around the state, but there are also lesser known berries (outside of the region) like Marionberries, Huckleberries, and Saskatoons.

There are also a myriad of wild berries to taste and learn about, like the somewhat sour but high in Vitamin C ‘Cloudberry,’ which grows in beat bogs and peaty forests:

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Salmonberries are strikingly similar in appearance to Cloudberries, but can be found in coastal forests:

Salmonberries

Oh, and we mustn’t forget about my personal favorite, Thimbleberries, which are a refreshing treat when backpacking in mountain foothills:

thimbleberries

There are even ‘bear’berries (aka kinnikinnick) believe it or not, but I wouldn’t recommend eating them because they may cause nausea or constipation… or maybe a bear attack(!):

bearberries

There are also many blue-ish berries that look very similar to one another. For this reason, it’s important to know which ones are edible and which ones are not if you’re seeking to forage. For example the Crowberry, which bares resemblance to the Chokeberry (when less ripe). An easy way to distinguish the many varieties of blue colored berries is by identifying their leafage and growing regions.

The Crowberry grows in shady dry areas, tundra, muskeg, and forests:

crowberries

Watch out for non-edible Chokeberries! (Note: They do possess *edible* look-alikes: Pin cherry and Bitter cherry if you do your research and have a discerning eye.)

Chokes

Another very common sight in Oregon is the Oregon Grape, which is technically considered a berry. Be mindful of these sour berries as they may be toxic or even deadly if eaten in large quantities, but apparently suitable for casual foraging:

oregon grape

To learn more about all the wonderful berries of the PNW, check out this website: http://northernbushcraft.com/berries/