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Foraging wild berries?

 
Posts: 25
Location: SE Wisconsin, USA - Growing Zone 5b
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What kind of wild berries are you able to forage where you live? I've been foraging wild blackcaps (which I think are black raspberries?) for many years. But when we moved to this house three years ago, I hit the mother load lol

I have several mulberry trees, as well as tons of wild blackcaps and gooseberries. Gooseberries were new to me and I really like them.

I've also found many patches of elderberry nearby. Hopefully I can plant some here at my house this year.

All of this has really been exciting. I also found a very odd one that I can't identify. Can anyone tell me what it is?
Screenshot_20230403_182256_Messenger.jpg
[Thumbnail for Screenshot_20230403_182256_Messenger.jpg]
 
Kathleen Marshall
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I should mention that I'm in SE Wisconsin.
 
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Is that Common Buckthorn (RHAMNUS CATHARTICA) in the photo?
I have seen it or something like it but don't know much about it.
The only thing I can find near where I live right now is mulberry ( a bunch of different varieties from the colors) but if i range out a bit, I've seen a lot of blackberries and wineberries.
I'm urban/coastal North east.
 
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With all the winter moisture this year, I am expecting a bumper crop of wolf berries. It is the desert Southwest version of the Goji Berry, and our hillsides are abundant with these shrubs. The non-native Gojis that I planted have taken off as well, and are threatening to take over the front yard!
 
Kathleen Marshall
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Now I have to see what wine berries and wolf berries are.

The only berries I have planted (so far) are strawberries. I got one whole strawberry last year. lol I'm guessing the birds got them.

I'm not sure what the one in the picture could be. I took the picture last year. I discovered it behind my shed in a clump of blackcaps, so it was difficult to get closer. Maybe if they come back this year I can get closer so I can get a better picture.

I hope they are something I can eat.
 
Kathleen Marshall
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Ted, what do you do with the wolf berries? And out of curiosity, what made you decide to also grow goji berries if they are so similar?
 
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The only kind of berries we have where I live are agaritas.

I generally leave them for the wildlife who love them more than I do.

When we lived in the Piney Woods of East Texas there were tons of wild blackberries.
 
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That could be of a smilax or greenbriar— apparently often called a carrionflower? It’s a bit hard to be sure from just one photo though. You could upload a few pics of the stems, leaves and growth habit to an ID app like iNaturalist to get a positive ID.

I love iNat & find that it’s a great way to keep all of my IDs in one place for easy access later.
 
Kathleen Marshall
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Manda Bell wrote:That could be of a smilax or greenbriar— apparently often called a carrionflower? It’s a bit hard to be sure from just one photo though. You could upload a few pics of the stems, leaves and growth habit to an ID app like iNaturalist to get a positive ID.

I love iNat & find that it’s a great way to keep all of my IDs in one place for easy access later.



Carrion flower does not sound very tasty. lol I hope the birds enjoy it at least. I'll have to do some research on it. 🙂
 
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1.  Your pic does resemble a greenbrier or buckthorn, as mentioned earlier.  The small fruit has a huge seed inside, so very little edible fruit.

2.  Black raspberries abound here in central Virginia.  All-you-can-eat, for 3-4 weeks.  When I find super healthy plants in the wild, I attempt to transplant them closer to the house.  Limited success, only about 1 in 5 plants take hold and thrive after transplant.
 
Manda Bell
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From what I read it’s not as fragrant as the infamous corpse flower but does also smell like rotten flesh. It will definitely be appreciated by many pollinators!
 
Kathleen Marshall
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Gary Numan wrote:
2.  Black raspberries abound here in central Virginia.  All-you-can-eat, for 3-4 weeks.  When I find super healthy plants in the wild, I attempt to transplant them closer to the house.  Limited success, only about 1 in 5 plants take hold and thrive after transplant.



I've often wondered about pruning them as one would domesticated varieties. My gut says to let wild things be wild, but I have large areas that are not productive. It makes me think they could be tidied up and pruned so they can produce again. (not that I need more!)
 
Kathleen Marshall
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Manda Bell wrote:From what I read it’s not as fragrant as the infamous corpse flower but does also smell like rotten flesh. It will definitely be appreciated by many pollinators!



That is very interesting, because last year I kept thinking I was smelling something dead, but never did find what it was. I assumed it was something out in the woods. Maybe it was this plant!
 
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The forests surrounding us are filled with blueberries and lingonberries.. Last fall we went for adventures to the forest with the toddler and then sat there eating blueberries.
 
Manda Bell
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Saana Jalimauchi wrote:The forests surrounding us are filled with blueberries and lingonberries.. Last fall we went for adventures to the forest with the toddler and then sat there eating blueberries.



That sounds epic. I would love to see pictures of the plants in the forest setting if you took any! I plan to add both of these berries to our forested areas and would love to see how nature handles them.
 
Manda Bell
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Kathleen Marshall wrote:I kept thinking I was smelling something dead, but never did find what it was. I assumed it was something out in the woods. Maybe it was this plant!



That is hilarious.
 
Ted Abbey
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Kathleen Marshall wrote:Ted, what do you do with the wolf berries? And out of curiosity, what made you decide to also grow goji berries if they are so similar?



I usually graze more than anything, as my time is limited, but I have collected and dried them. Also, I planted the Goji before I realized the wild variety existed in such close proximity and abundance.
 
Saana Jalimauchi
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Manda Bell wrote:

Saana Jalimauchi wrote:The forests surrounding us are filled with blueberries and lingonberries.. Last fall we went for adventures to the forest with the toddler and then sat there eating blueberries.



That sounds epic. I would love to see pictures of the plants in the forest setting if you took any! I plan to add both of these berries to our forested areas and would love to see how nature handles them.



Umm okay so I lied it seems. They are not blueberries, but bilberries! Wikipedia tells us that:

Wikipedia wrote: Vaccinium myrtillus or European blueberry is a holarctic species of shrub with edible fruit of blue color, known by the common names bilberry, blaeberry, wimberry, and whortleberry.[2] It is more precisely called common bilberry or blue whortleberry to distinguish it from other Vaccinium relatives.


Vaccinium Myrtillus in Wikipedia (Our Mustikka)


Wikipedia wrote:

Bilberries (/ˈbɪlbəri/), or sometimes European blueberries, are a primarily Eurasian species of low-growing shrubs in the genus Vaccinium (family Ericaceae), bearing edible, dark blue berries. The species most often referred to is Vaccinium myrtillus L., but there are several other closely related species.
— — —
Bilberries – which are native to Europe – are different from North American blueberries, although the species are closely related and belong to the same genus, Vaccinium. Bilberry are non-climacteric fruits with a smooth, circular outline at the end opposite the stalk, whereas blueberries retain persistent sepals there, leaving a rough, star-shaped pattern of five flaps.[3] Bilberries grow singly or in pairs rather than in clusters, as blueberries do, and blueberries have more evergreen leaves. Bilberries are dark in colour, and often appear near black with a slight shade of purple.


Bilberry in Wikipedia

Oh well.

But I will tell you about our bilberries! There’s a  pine forest and the understory basicly consist of mosses and bilberries. They are everywhere.

Lingonberries hang out in the sunny places, edges of the forests.

Here’s one picture from the fall, this is from 20th September last year. Some of the bilberry plants have changed colours beautifully!
B1BACC18-D9D0-45C3-A132-A63F5911C398.jpeg
Diving into the bilberry forest!
Diving into the bilberry forest!
30024CD2-ACD7-483D-B8EF-10A2F319C535.jpeg
Bilberries in their fall gown with some lingonberries.
Bilberries in their fall gown with some lingonberries.
 
Kathleen Marshall
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Saana Jalimauchi wrote:

Umm okay so I lied it seems. They are not blueberries, but bilberries! Wikipedia tells us that:

Wikipedia wrote: Vaccinium myrtillus or European blueberry is a holarctic species of shrub with edible fruit of blue color, known by the common names bilberry, blaeberry, wimberry, and whortleberry.[2] It is more precisely called common bilberry or blue whortleberry to distinguish it from other Vaccinium relatives.


Vaccinium Myrtillus in Wikipedia (Our Mustikka)


Wikipedia wrote:

Bilberries (/ˈbɪlbəri/), or sometimes European blueberries, are a primarily Eurasian species of low-growing shrubs in the genus Vaccinium (family Ericaceae), bearing edible, dark blue berries. The species most often referred to is Vaccinium myrtillus L., but there are several other closely related species.
— — —
Bilberries – which are native to Europe – are different from North American blueberries, although the species are closely related and belong to the same genus, Vaccinium. Bilberry are non-climacteric fruits with a smooth, circular outline at the end opposite the stalk, whereas blueberries retain persistent sepals there, leaving a rough, star-shaped pattern of five flaps.[3] Bilberries grow singly or in pairs rather than in clusters, as blueberries do, and blueberries have more evergreen leaves. Bilberries are dark in colour, and often appear near black with a slight shade of purple.


Bilberry in Wikipedia

Oh well.

But I will tell you about our bilberries! There’s a  pine forest and the understory basicly consist of mosses and bilberries. They are everywhere.

Lingonberries hang out in the sunny places, edges of the forests.

Here’s one picture from the fall, this is from 20th September last year. Some of the bilberry plants have changed colours beautifully!



That's awesome! Bilberries are really good for your immune system (among other things).
 
Manda Bell
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Saana Jalimauchi wrote: Umm okay so I lied it seems. They are not blueberries, but bilberries!



I’m glad you lied— because that’s super cool! I can’t say I’ve heard of the bilberry. I’m finding out there are so many berries around the world that I’ve never heard of and am trying to learn about as many as I can. And I live in a pine forest so this is perfect.

Just wow, those pictures are amazing. Thank you for sharing!
 
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I'm an hour and a half north of NYC.  Around my house we have lots of black caps and wine berries, sometimes wild strawberries.
 
Kathleen Marshall
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Aunt Laurie wrote:I'm an hour and a half north of NYC.  Around my house we have lots of black caps and wine berries, sometimes wild strawberries.



I often see wild strawberry plants, but they never have berries. Have you been able to snag any?
 
Saana Jalimauchi
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Manda Bell wrote:
I can’t say I’ve heard of the bilberry. I’m finding out there are so many berries around the world that I’ve never heard of and am trying to learn about as many as I can. And I live in a pine forest so this is perfect.



I think the last (and only) time I heard of bilberries was about 20 years ago in school while in english class.. Soon after that I have apparently fallen in the blueberry confusion. Well, they are kinda close relatives so no harm done.

It seems that you will have to get some bilberries to your pine forest! As they are native to USA (although to the western part of the country) it shouldn’t be that hard..

They say that bilberries are hard to grow but if you get some going in a right kind of place (crappy acidic soil in a shady pine forest) they probably just do their thing and spread everywhere.

Disclaimer: I know nothing about establising a bilberry forest.
 
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We have blackberries (brambles), raspberries and bilberries native and reasonably common here. The raspberries are much smaller than cultivated raspberries but incredibly tasty - tarter and more flavoursome. The blackberries are probably the most prolific, and if you know where to go you can get a good harvest. Often they ripen a bit late and are tasteless, but I have one bush that has good flavoured berries that I am hoping to encourage a bit. Bilberries here grow up on the hills. They are low growing, so tend to be grazed down by the deer and free ranging sheep, and I don't see many berries unfortunately.
Elderberries are common. Apparently it was considered bad luck to cut elder trees, so I'm a bit surprised they haven't taken over! The berries tend to disappear pretty quickly - the birds love them.
Rarer fruit are crowberries (empetrum nigra), which I had to look up when I found them. Not really prolific enough to be gathered, but a tiny burst of flavour if you are lucky.

source
 
Kathleen Marshall
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Crow berries. How cool! I have never heard of those before now. I wonder if they can grow here. Though I suppose I should just be happy with the variety we have already. lol

Oh! Speaking of the variety here... Does anyone eat/use chokecherries or wild cherries? This might be better as a new thread, but I just now thought about it. I have several trees that are chokecherries (Prunus virginiana) or wild cherries (Prunus serotina). I'm not sure which. And I have to say, they are really beautiful when they are full of fruit. And flowers, too, for that matter. I am thinking about harvesting some this year for jelly.

I really have quite an abundance of wild berries and I'm very thankful.
 
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We have saskatoons/serviceberries and Oregon grape berries growing wild on our property. They make a great jam with raspberries and/or blueberries. Huckleberries are nearby but don't seem to grow for us. Too dry and hot I think. Lots of microclimates in this part of the Pacific NW.
 
Saana Jalimauchi
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The snows are melting and I took some photos from our ”backyard”.

Mostly lingonberries but you can spot some leafless bilberry plants sticking up beautiful and green.

Edit: The last photo somehow flipped to the side.. oh well you get the picture.

Want to guess how many times I wrote blueberries instead of bilberries?
F2ECB82B-1E00-4C51-947C-55A42A00DE6C.jpeg
Mostly lingonberries
Mostly lingonberries
CB57E173-01DC-46D4-AB34-E1E4BC7ED614.jpeg
Here you can see many bilberry plants
Here you can see many bilberry plants
3EC044C1-9799-4F69-BE4D-6ED28BAE5B08.jpeg
Bilberries and lingonberries
Bilberries and lingonberries
CA4F1958-6287-4AA8-8C56-F8B5DC724476.jpeg
Lingonberries. Everywhere.
Lingonberries. Everywhere.
 
Kathleen Marshall
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Beautiful! Once all the plants wake up here, I'll have to post some pictures too. 🙂
 
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Lingon berries, raspberries, strawberries, cloud berries, soap berries, blueberries (several kinds), Saskatoons, currents, juniper berries, highbush cranberries, crow berries, kinnikinik.

I think that all the berries we pick wild around here and in the mountains. Though it will be a few months before it's time to go picking.
 
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In the shadows of Mt Rainier in the PNW, we regularly eat red huckleberry, Oregon grape, salal berries, Pacific trailing blackberry (along with the more prolific non-native evergreen blackberry and Himalayan blackberry), wild cherry, salmon berry, thimble berry, and wild rose hips (though the hips are so tiny, there's not much to them). And when we actually make it up to Mt Rainier, the wild low blueberries and blue huckleberries are so good! My dad tried for years to get some to grow at his house but they prefer the high elevation.

I'd like to try kinikinik someday, mainly because it's such a fun word to say, but I haven't come across any except in parking lots that I'm not comfortable eating from since it's so low growing, you never know what might have "watered" it.

I've read books where people eat snowberry and there's mixed info online about them. We've have some in the woods around here and they are so pretty but a cautious taste was super bitter so I leave those berries for the birds. I wonder if there's some different more palatable varieties. One book I read was an Alaskan survival story and the character practically lived off snowberries. 🤷
 
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Saana Jalimauchi wrote:

But I will tell you about our bilberries! There’s a  pine forest and the understory basicly consist of mosses and bilberries. They are everywhere.

Lingonberries hang out in the sunny places, edges of the forests.

Here’s one picture from the fall, this is from 20th September last year. Some of the bilberry plants have changed colours beautifully!





Oooh....

I'm hoping to sort of "collect" as many different berry types as we can in our permaculture forest garden and have been looking for different options for forest ground cover.  

I've already got some alpine strawberry seeds, but will definitely have to add bilberries to my list of plans!

The woods here aren't strictly a pine forest, but there is a lot of pine mixed in so I wouldn't be surprised if the soil was a decent fit for the berries.


As far as what we have wild here...

We have blackberries, dewberries, muscadines, I found some other type of wild grape vines recently, sand plums (which are small enough that they're kind of like REALLY big berries), and when I was a kid I found a nice mulberry tree on neighboring land - but haven't been able to find it again as an adult...


In theory there are other things that grow in this area/region like persimmon and pawpaw, but I haven't ever seen them here. (I realize those aren't "berries" just came to mind though...)
 
Robin Katz
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Jenny Wright wrote:I've read books where people eat snowberry and there's mixed info online about them. We've have some in the woods around here and they are so pretty but a cautious taste was super bitter so I leave those berries for the birds. I wonder if there's some different more palatable varieties. One book I read was an Alaskan survival story and the character practically lived off snowberries. 🤷



I'd like to hear if anyone has processed and eaten snowberries too. We have way more of those in our woods than anything else except bearberry. My ethnobotany book lists various parts of the snowberry plant for external use and for eye washes. It's sometimes taken internally to treat some disorders and the berries were listed once as a starvation food. The berries are also listed as food for grouse, bears, and deer.
 
Saana Jalimauchi
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The bilberry season is starting!
B02A3117-81C0-4ABE-98CB-A8CDCFEA17CE.jpeg
Bilberries in a rainy forest
Bilberries in a rainy forest
 
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I currently forage mulberry, service berry, and four types of currents.
service-berry.jpg
service berry
service berry
 
Saana Jalimauchi
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I found wild raspberries! A lot of them!

Near our house is an area that was clearcut few years ago. Now there are raspberry bushes everywhere. At first I was picking from just one bush for a couple of days and then I actually opened my eyes and saw two more bushes nearby. When I got to them I saw more. After those.. Well you know. Happy days!

Raspberry cheesecake is cooling on the table waiting to get to the fridge. I’m totally going to eat it for breakfast.

FC8B3ACB-31CD-4BE4-AA0E-115BBD1DCD3A.jpeg
Raspberries!
Raspberries!
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today's feeble attempt to support the empire
Boost Egg Nutrition With This Organic Algae Poultry Supplement
https://permies.com/t/153700/Organic-Astaxanthin-Algae-Poultry-Supplement
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