Black Cap Raspberry
The Black Cap Raspberries grow on all the BC Coast including all of Vancouver Island. Its stems are covered by a bluish, waxy bloom, and are armed with flattened, hooked prickles. Leaves usually have 3 sharp-toothed leaflets and are white on the undersides. Flowers come in clusters of up to 7 and the petals are white to pinkish. Fruits look like a regular raspberry but turn a dark purplish-black when ripe. Read More….
Black Huckleberries are an erect, deciduous shrub 1 to 2 m tall. The leaves, up to 5 cm long, are elliptical with a long pointed tip and a finely serrated margin. The bell-shaped flowers are creamy pink and are found singly on the underside of the twigs. The berries are large, spherical, sweet, and dark purple or black. In some forms the berries are covered with a waxy bloom; others have shiny dark berries. Read More….
Blueberries have received much attention in recent years due to their health attributes. The fruit is rich in antioxidant compounds that fight free radicals that are associated with cancer, heart disease, and premature aging. They also used the whole plant for medicinal purposes and made a strong aromatic tea from the root. It was used as a relaxant during childbirth. Early medical books show this same tea was used by wives of settlers during labor. Read More….
Black Swamp Gooseberry
The Vancouver Island Black Swamp Gooseberry (Ribes Divaricatum) is in my humble opinion, is a very tasty treat indeed. It has such a tart flavor. Far better than other Gooseberries and Currents. Good on the side of the trail or use in a variety of recipes. Add to oats before a big hike, it will give you a boost of energy. Read More….
The further north you go, the lower in elevation the crowberries can be found, in Alaska you will find them at sea level, here on Vancouver Island you have to get up above 1000 meters to find them, with that said, I can say that they are quite abundant and easy to find on our island mountains. Read More….
Evergreen blackberry is a spreading evergreen shrub in the rose family that grows up to 2 meters tall. Stems are erect when young, but arch to touch the ground as they grow and root at the nodes. Stems are heavily armed with sharp thorns. New canes are produced each year and usually die after flowering and fruiting in the second year. Read More….
Flowering Red Currant
The Flowering Red Currant is a member of the gooseberry family. It grows in the form of a medium to tall shrub up to 3 m tall. Crooked, brownish stems stand erect or lean against other shrubs in open to dense thickets. Grey to green leaves cluster on short branches arranged along the twiggy stems. Each leaf is shaped like a small, rounded maple leaf with three to five lobes and its underside is covered in fine matted hair. Read More….
Himalayan Blackberries prefer to grow on disturbed sites, look for them along back roads where illegal dumping is a problem. This is one of the more means for these plants to get to and pioneer. You will find them along waterways as well. Blackberries spread by root and stem fragments, birds and animals will eat the berries and the seeds will be discarded in their scat, already fertilized. Read More….
The Indian plum is a shrub that can grow up to 5 m tall. The stems are clumped, and the bark is purplish to brown. The Leaves are oblong shaped with a short leaf stalk, the blades are up to 12 cm long, pale green and smooth above, paler, and often sparsely hairy below. If you crush a leaf, it will smell like cucumber. It smells very nice. Read More….
Northern Red Currant
The wild Northern Red Currant is a tasty treat indeed. If you’re lucky enough to find a big batch of them, they can be used in any recipe for cultivated berries. If you find only a few, then they make a fine addition to summer puddings or wild fruit salads or just as a trailside treat. Red currant is a native shrub, forming dense patches and growing up to 2 m. Read More….
Red Huckleberries are translucent, red, acidic berries that grow on many-branched shrubs that are up to 2 meters tall. The small, bell-shaped flowers are solitary in the axils of the leaves. Huckleberries are found on all of Vancouver Island. The berries are available in the fall. They make a superior jelly and may also be eaten raw or used for jams, preserves, pies, muffins, and puddings. Read More….
The pacific northwest salal plant can be upright or ground crawling and grows up to 5 meters in height. Salal growth can be sparse or form a dense barrier almost impossible to penetrate. Salal spreads by suckering layer upon layer and is the most dominant shrub in the BC coastal forest area. The berries are black, reddish-blue, or dark purple and are up to 10 mm around and somewhat hairy to the touch. Read More….
Salmonberries are raspberry-shaped fruit ranging in color from pale yellow to deep orange found across much of the Pacific Northwest. The berries can be slightly bitter to sweet and are often snacked upon by passing hikers. They are usually not found for sale unless at small farm stands and markets, although they make passable jam and preserves if enough can be collected. Read More….
Saskatoon berries, commonly known as Saskatoon’s, are purplish blueberries that grow on a bush. Other names used to describe this berry are service berries, June Saskatoon berries, and Indian pear. These Berries look similar to blueberries with a slight variation in color and size. The berries are purple-colored, and the size of berries varies due to different growing conditions. Read More….
Slipping easily off into your hand when ripe, this ruby-red berry is aptly named for its pronounced cup shape. “This is the best tasting and least appreciated berry going. Thimble berries are a little sour, but not too much, which gives them a bit of a kick. Read More….
This is the only native blackberry species in British Columbia. It is a low, trailing plant with deciduous leaves and white to pink flowers that produce the small blackberry fruits. It is common in disturbed sites and dry, open forests from low to middle elevations throughout the BC coast. The fruits were eaten fresh. The leaves were used for a medicinal tea for stomach ache and the roots were used for a medicinal tea for diarrhea. Read More….
Wild strawberries are a common creeping plant that grows in forests, fields, lawns, forest edges, roadsides, and streamsides. It can grow up to 15 cm tall, and its leaves are split into three leaflets. Creeping plants, like strawberries, have runners. Runners are stems that grow sideways on the surface of the soil. As the runners grow, they send up new strawberry plants. Read More….
The Woodland Strawberries are a low perennial with scaly rhizome and long, slender trailing stolons, leaf stalks, and flower stems are a greenish or very lightly tinged reddish-purple color and lightly to densely hairy. The Leaves are basal; compound with 3 leaflets; each leaflet ovate with straight, prominent veins and no individual leafstalks, somewhat pointed at the tip; margins appearing roughly toothed with the terminal tooth protruding past the two adjacent lateral teeth. Read More….
Vancouver Island is fortunate to have a variety of wild fruit-producing plants, vines, and shrubs. Some are native to the Island and some are invasive plants. By learning to identify the edible berries, you can enjoy 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, like blackberries, salmonberries, thimble berries, huckleberries, blueberries, and wild strawberries. On Vancouver Island, you can find most of these berries easily and close by.
Some of these berry plants have a wide distribution and may be found not just on Vancouver Island, but in many areas of North America. No matter where you live, you can find species of delicious berries 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 native birds and animals to your yard.