Forum Index > Full Moon Saloon > Wild Blueberries, Blue Huckleberries, Red Huckleberries - Can somebody set me straight?
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Bowregard
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Bowregard
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PostWed Sep 08, 2021 12:20 pm 
I grew up here and was fortunate to have family that taught me about the fauna and flora of the area.

I have picked:
      Blueberries, Strawberries, and Raspberries from farms.
      pink/red tart Huckleberries (you really have to want pie/jelly bad to pick enough of those).
      Blackberries (2 big types that grow along the road and tiny tart ones that make pies taste so good).
      Wild Strawberries, Loganberries, Marionberries, Black Raspberries (we called them "Black Caps"),
      Salmonberries, Thimbleberries, even Oregon Grape in the little green clusters.

But nobody ever explained about the blue berries you find in the mountains.
      dark blue berries that generally grow on upright bushes individually and are very flavorful.
      lighter blue berries that grow low to the ground in clusters and are very sweet but have less flavor.

I am looking for the common names and yes - I know you should never eat berries you don't know are safe. I can recognize which berries are edible but have gotten different stories about what to call them.

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Ski
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PostWed Sep 08, 2021 12:47 pm 
The "two blackberries along the road" are the more common Himalaya Blackberry (Rubus Procerus, or R. Discolor, or R. armeniacus *) and the Evergreen (or "Cut Leaf") Blackberry (R. Laciniatus)
The "tiny blackberry" is the dewberry:


The "Black Cap" (or Western Raspberry) (R. leucodermis) is usually found in the wild. Powdery white canes. Can be domesticated if handled carefully. Produces prodigiously.


We are blessed with a confusing array of wild huckleberries:


The red one (Vaccinium Parvifolium) is pretty much done for the season.
The tiny little black one - the Evergreen Huckleberry (V. Ovatum) is ripe right now.

I've never been poisoned eating the blue ones, even though I cannot tell one from another.

Here are some elderberries, since they're also getting ripe right now and the blue ones make fabulous jelly:


* The community of botanists, for reasons you and I will never understand, has a propensity for renaming and re-classifying plants with about the same frequency as you and I change our underwear. Pay no attention. It's just something they do. (Paraphrased from a phone conversation with an NPS botanist.)

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day_hike_mike, Bowregard
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PostWed Sep 08, 2021 12:54 pm 
Bowregard wrote:
"...even Oregon Grape..."

Oregon Grape berries make excellent jelly.
I like to eat them right off the bush. Most people think they're too sour.
When making Oregon Grape jelly:
Use HALF as much pectin as what they're telling you in the online recipes.
Use TWICE as much sugar as they're telling you in the online recipes.

Remember: Spoons were invented so you could taste stuff in the kitchen before serving (or putting up in jars.)

YMMV

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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Anne Elk
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PostWed Sep 08, 2021 12:54 pm 
The dark ones growing on tall bushes are my particular favorite huckleberry (vaccinium membranaceum); pretty sure that's the one you mean.  They grow at higher elevations; the bright red huckleberry in the lowlands.  I'm not positive, but I don't think v. membranaceum can be cultivated in the lowlands here; it needs that long winter freeze.  It takes forever to pick enough to make a pie, but I used to do it.  I had a favorite patch on a well-known trail; I even picked all day in the rain one fall until thunder drove me off.  But now it's one of the "mobbed" trails and I don't go there any longer.  With all the drought these days I figure the more than can be left for the critters, the better.  I pigged out enough in the good old days.

From Wikipedia re Vaccinium species:

From coastal Central California through Oregon to southern Washington and British Columbia, the red huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium) is found in the maritime-influenced plant community. In the Pacific Northwest and mountains of Montana and Idaho, this huckleberry species and several others, such as the black Vaccinium huckleberry (V. membranaceum) and blue (Cascade) huckleberry (V. deliciosum), grow in various habitats, such as mid-alpine regions up to 11,500 feet (3,500 m) above sea level, mountain slopes, forests, or lake basins.[2] The plant grows best in damp, acidic soil having volcanic origin, attaining under optimal conditions heights of 1.5 to 2 m (4.9 to 6.6 ft), usually ripening in mid-to-late summer or later at high elevations.[2] Huckleberry was one of the few plant species to survive on the slopes of Mount St. Helens when the volcano erupted in 1980, and existed as a prominent mountain-slope bush in 2017.Where the climate is favorable, certain species of huckleberry, such as V. membranaceum, V. parvifolium and V. deliciosum, are used in ornamental plantings. The 'garden huckleberry' (Solanum scabrum) is not a true huckleberry, but is instead a member of the nightshade family.

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"There are yahoos out there.  It’s why we can’t have nice things."  - Tom Mahood
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fourteen410
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fourteen410
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PostWed Sep 08, 2021 1:02 pm 
Growing up, we were always told to never eat blackberries in urban areas because they were sprayed with chemicals. I wonder if that was just urban legend?

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PostWed Sep 08, 2021 1:03 pm 
Anne Elk wrote:
"...ornamental plantings...."

The red (V. Parvifolium) can be quite a challenge to transplant from the wild. Be sure to get as much of the root of the plant as you possibly can.
I did have one raving success when I bare-root transplanted one into a cedar stump that was in the advanced stages of decay and left a sprinkler running on it for a month.

YMMV

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I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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PostWed Sep 08, 2021 1:09 pm 
fourteen410 wrote:
"...because they were sprayed with chemicals..."

State and County road crews regularly spray herbicides along roads and highways, and the Himalaya Blackberry is a prime target.
Glyphosate is commonly used, as well as "Garlon" and triclopyr.
If they'd been sprayed with an herbicide, you'd be able to tell by the shriveled up leaves and canes.

Personally, I usually avoid stuff growing right along roads just because it's usually real dusty, although my sister and I gorged on blackberries on our walk down to the beach in Sequim last week.

There are so many places to find them you shouldn't have to pick them along a road.

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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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Tom
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PostWed Sep 08, 2021 1:13 pm 
I sample blackberries often along my daily bike ride.  No ill effects, but only 2 years of gorging on them.  This year has been strange.  During the initial drought the first batch of berries was large and flavorful.  After the first rain they shriveled up, and the second wave has been smaller and almost tasteless (if this hadn't continued over 2-3 weeks I'd think I had COVID).

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Bowregard
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PostWed Sep 08, 2021 1:49 pm 
We used to pick the little blackberries "dewberries" every summer near the 7 lakes NW of Marysville. 3-5 years after a clearcut they would be abundant. They take a lot longer to fill your bucket but for pies and jam there is no equal. My father would blunder through the brush ignoring thorns and such (never understood why we couldn't use a trail) and the rest of the family would follow with us kids complaining until our bucket was full. Some summers we would even pick enough to sell to the local restaurants and private parties at $15-$20 a gallon bucket (and that was 50 years ago).

What got me thinking about the blue berries was a day hike my wife and I took half a dozen years ago into Island/Rainbow lake. The berries around Rainbow lake were everywhere and clearly fell into two categories. The dark blue upright plants with individual berries and low growing larger light blue berries that grew in clusters. I have never seen them that thick before or since. I kept switching from one type to the other trying to decide which tasted better.

Thanks for the info. Still not sure what to call the low growing version but nice to know more about them

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Ski
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PostWed Sep 08, 2021 3:52 pm 
Bowregard, referring to the Dewberry wrote:
"...for pies and jam there is no equal..."

Thank you. up.gif

I won first prize for my Blackberry Pie recipe (actually my mother's recipe) in a "dessert" recipe contest in the Pierce County Herald in 1988. Still have the newspaper clipping here somewhere.

Unfortunately I was only able to pick enough of the dewberries this season for a few jars of Blackberry-Huckleberry jam back in June.


NO, I am not telling you where I found them. wink.gif

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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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Anne Elk
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PostThu Sep 09, 2021 10:51 am 
Ski wrote:
The red (V. Parvifolium) can be quite a challenge to transplant from the wild. Be sure to get as much of the root of the plant as you possibly can.
I did have one raving success when I bare-root transplanted one into a cedar stump that was in the advanced stages of decay and left a sprinkler running on it for a month.

This reflects what I've discovered - that vaccinium grows best in acid soil with conifers.  They just seem to struggle otherwise.  I'm not that keen on taking stuff out of the woods, only because there's such a huge scavenger industry out there for everything from greenery for floral arrangements to wild mushrooms.  You can get one or two cultivated vaccinium species from nurseries.

Ski - what is the source of your illustrated berries? One thing not noted is that elderberry is poisonous if eaten raw.

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"There are yahoos out there.  It’s why we can’t have nice things."  - Tom Mahood
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PostThu Sep 09, 2021 12:03 pm 
As far as I know, all Vaccinium species prefer acidic soil.

I had a hell of a time with my sister's blueberry bushes.
They just would not do anything in the crappy soil behind her house in University Place.
I dug them out, and re-dug the holes - about 36" diameter x 20" deep. I went out into the woods behind her house where I'd been dumping yard waste for years, and dug down into a layer of fir needles about two feet thick. Ran a few wheelbarrow loads through my dirt screen, and filled in the holes I'd dug and replanted the blueberry bushes.
Took about two years, and they took off with a vengeance. She had more fruit than she could eat.

The images are from my "Pacific Coast Berry Finder" © 1978 Nature Study Guild - Glenn Keator, PhD

They publish a number of different pocket-sized field guides for various types of plants. Find them online.

Nature Study Guild field guides
Nature Study Guild field guides

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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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treeswarper
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PostFri Sep 10, 2021 10:02 am 
I am attempting to grow domestic blueberries.  The soil here leans towards alkaline so I mixed in a lot of peat moss and have been working in conifer shavings and mulching with them.  The shrubs were planted last year and didn't do so well.  This year, I cut down the arborvitae so more sun was available and they seem to have come out of their shock.  I got about three sweet berries to eat from six plants.  I will expect more next year.

I also use Miracle Grow for acidic loving plants.

Stay tuned.

The raspberry crop came in right when we had 117 degree temps so was a fail.   (my thermometer said 120 on one day).

It wasn't a very good season.

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Ski
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PostFri Sep 10, 2021 11:10 am 
^ You can buy products to increase the acidity level in the soil. Hydrangeas supposedly respond quite well to supplements of that nature.

The groundskeepers at Glenacres Inn down in Westport, Washington (where the Robert F. Kennedy family stayed on a vacation) uses discarded grapefruit rinds under their hydrangeas to produce fabulous blooms.

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"I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach. 
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each."
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Anne Elk
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PostFri Sep 10, 2021 4:42 pm 
Ski wrote:
You can buy products to increase the acidity level in the soil. Hydrangeas supposedly respond quite well to supplements of that nature.

This is true, however for increasing soil acidity when you're growing stuff to eat, it's recommended to avoid products that contain aluminum, such as the compound aluminum sulfate. Elemental sulfur is the best, if you can find it.  There are a number of garden amendment products that contain it.

treeswarper - if interested, PM me with your email address and I'll send you a PDF doc I've had for years that includes photos.

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"There are yahoos out there.  It’s why we can’t have nice things."  - Tom Mahood
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