Wild Fruit, Pacific Northwest
The Pacific Northwest is fortunate to have a variety of wild fruit producing plants, vines and shrubs. Some are native to the coast and some are invasive plants. By learning to identify the edible berries, you can enjoy a real healthy food for free and as most native wild fruits are high in antioxidants, vitamins and other nutrients, you can get real benefits from the berries.
You can find blackberries, salmonberries, thimbleberries, huckleberries, blueberries, indian plum, currant berries, trailing blackberries, and wild strawberries along with others. This but some that can be found, more are listed in the wild fruit section.
Some of these berry plants have a wide distribution and may be found not just on the coast, but in many areas of North America. No matter where you live, you can find species of delicious fruit for your enjoyment.
If you would like to enjoy growing carefree native fruit bearing plants, there are sources for obtaining them inexpensively or you can collect some plants yourself, but please only take a few and from areas that have many plants so you do not disrupt their ability to feed the birds and animals. Planting native berries will also attract birds and animals to your yard.
Many mammals, from black bears to mice, feed on huckleberries. Herbivores graze on the entire plant, it appears to be a favorite browse of deer. Huckleberries and blueberries form a major part of the black bear’s diet in late summer and fall. Grouse feast on the leaves and blossoms. The fruits, twigs, and foliage are eaten by raccoons, squirrels, deer, elk and mice
Taken on regular basis, huckleberry tea will gradually help alleviate both glycosuria and hyperglycemia and has a benign but useful effect as an adjunct treatment to diabetes mellitus.
The flowers droop loosely, and are up to 10 cm long, they are in clusters that form at the ends of short auxiliary branches. The flowers are mostly uni-sexual. The male and female flowers are on separate plants. The flowers appear very early in the year, just as the leaves are developing.
When the fruits develop, they are like small plums with a large stone, about 1 cm long, bluish black with a whitish bloom, up to 5 per female flower are produced with each containing one stone. They grow in a variety of soil and weather conditions, you can find them on the south coast islands and corresponding south coast. Although the fruit is edible, it has a bitter taste, best to dry them and eat like large raisins.
Salal grows from sea level to mid elevations. Salal is found in coniferous coastal forests all over the coast as well as the outer islands. The strong, flexible branches and stems of the salal plant are well designed to withstand the wet heavy snows, they tend to bend instead of breaking.
Salal berries have long been a major food source for BC’s native peoples and settlers learned to make jams and jellies from them. I like to just pick and eat them while on a hike. There is a fairly big business in gathering salal branches to be used in floral arrangements and quite a few people make a living doing just that.
The flowers come in up to 15 on stems that are up to 25 cm long (usually longer than leaves) with white petals that are up to 12 mm long. The Fruit is a small, delicious, red berry with seeds distributed on the surface, they ripen in July.
These Strawberries like to grow in moist open woods, stream banks, and meadows and widespread across the Pacific Northwest.