Berry Buffet

July 24-28, 2018

I closed my eyes as I placed the blackberry in my mouth and slowly bit down. Sun warmed juice flooded my mouth with intense flavor. My eyes popped open. “Oh my gosh!” I gasped. “Jay, these are incredible!”

“Mhmm,” Jay nodded, his mouth full, hand reaching for more berries.

A bank of blackberries had greeted us as we crossed the Bridge of the Gods. Little did I know, the next few days would bring a smorgasbord of berries!

Jay picking fruit from a bank of Himalayan blackberries (rubus armeniacus)

Two weeks ago, the forest was adorned with flowers everywhere – and mosquitoes to match! Insects (including mosquitoes) having done their job of pollination, now many flowers have gone to seed, producing berries for mammals and birds. I was delighted to participate in the harvest!

Thimble berries, sparsely scattered through the forest, were delicious!
Twisted stalk was a new plant to me. My good friend, Wikipedia, informed me that eating too many of the berries could have a laxative effect. I was glad I had not tried them!
Smooth sumac also did not look edible to me. Wikipedia later told me that a drink high in vitamin C could be made from the berries. However, it is ALWAYS good to err on the side of caution when it comes to eating wild foods.
I was delighted to see salal berries. I first ate them as a teenager, and it has been decades since I’ve had the pleasure of their subtle sweetness.
Blueberries! Sweet, tart, juicy, fortifying!
Queen’s cup, in the lily family, is a favorite food of ruffed grouse, but not edible to humans according to the US Forest Service.
We also found the queen’s cup lily still in bloom at higher elevations.
Devil’s club, used as medicine and for spiritual purposes by Native Americans, grows very slowly and is mostly found in old growth forests.
The gold and red mottled berries of false Solomon’s seal are beautiful, but not edible to my knowledge.
Salmonberries are a thirst-quenching treat on a hot day!
Yummy!!
As Jay and I walked through a fairly recent clear-cut, we found a sizeable crop of mountain blackberries, rubus ursinus, begging to be picked! These berries are much sweeter and smaller than their more numerous Himalayan cousins!
Purple huckleberries, the sweetest berry in the forest!
I was delighted to find one bush of red huckleberries! These can be easily confused with the red baneberry and other poisonous red berries, so don’t eat them unless you are sure!
Red baneberry. Very poisonous!
Oregon grapes are edible, but should be eaten with restraint. Too many can cause an upset stomach.

One can learn a great deal about edible plants from the internet. However, it is very easy to make a mistake when harvesting wild foods. I urge anyone who wants to begin to pick wild berries, make sure to accompany an experienced forager on your first several times!

4 thoughts on “Berry Buffet

  1. How fun to be able to eat your way along the trail and what a treat when backpacking. We’ve enjoyed the blackberries, blueberries, and red huckleberries on trips to the Oregon coast.

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  2. Sarah, What a berry find!! I hope you enjoyed them, and were able to pick some to take with you on your journey. Martha

    Sent from my iPhone

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