Posted by: Kiersten | November 7, 2010

Berry time

From the end of August to mid-November, it’s berry time in Ucluelet.

Himalayan blackberries are everywhere, as are salal, bog blueberries, alaskan blue berries, red and black huckleberries and Saskatoon berries.  These are all new plant species to me, and it’s taken me a while to learn how to tell them apart.

In particular, the huckleberries, blue berries and Saskatoon berries look quite similar, and since there are two types of blue berries and black huckleberries growing locally, it’s hard to know what you’re picking.   I’ll take the dogs to the beach and let them sniff around while I have a breakfast of berries, or Kat & I will get serious and walk the trails, filling up ziplock containers with miscellaneous berries as we go.  At home, the berries are added to biscuits, muffins, yoghurt and cereal.

Sometimes tourists stop to watch us as we harvest the berries.  They’ll ask us what the berries are, and whether they’re edible.  Once I told someone I was picking blue berries and was corrected by the tourist’s friend, who told me they were Saskatoons.  Well I don’t want to be spreading berry mis-information, so I took pictures of the berries and looked them up when we got home.

I was sure they were Alaskan blue berries, because the leaves are shiny, reddish, and the older branches are tree-like.  But in this photo I see the leaves are actually quite toothy, which is a feature of Saskatoons.  However, Saskatoon leaves are much more delicate, lighter, more rounded along the top.  These leaves are thick and shiny, and pointed as well as toothy.  Additionally, the new branches are often bright red, a tip off of the Evergreen Black Huckleberry!  We were both wrong!

Whatever the berry, all the black-blueish berries in our area are edible, so our loved ones do not need to worry about death by poisonous berries.

This, for example, we would not eat:

I’m still trying to figure out what it is.

Rainbow this morning:

I wonder if that means the fish plant will have enchanted fish!

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Responses

  1. Hi,
    I think that the plant you are wondering about is called bunchberry or Cornus canadensis. There is a book called Plants of Coastal BC by Pojar and Mackinnon that is a good introduction to all the native plants for BC as well as the First Nations uses of the plants.

    Love the blog,
    Jenn

    • You’re absolutely right! A friend of ours suggested it was a dogwood, and so it is, aka the bunchberry.

      Thank you!


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