Wild Blueberries. Photo Steven Isaacson via Flickr
We always hear that when going out for a walk or a hike we should be prepared. Most of us head out with the proper shoes, clothing, a water bottle and sometimes a snack bar of some sort. Have you ever trekked around on the trails in Metro Vancouver and other parts of British Columbia looking at all the foliage and seen some that are bearing fruit? Can you identify the most popular edible berries and plants found on such trails?
Before picking fruit always check local restrictions, as in some areas, not just British Columbia but Canada wide, it is illegal to pick certain berries and mushrooms. As with any plant thought to be edible double check that you indeed have the correct edible plant. Some look very similar to each other but pose grave differences. There are small pocket-sized books available and it is advisable to carry one with you when out trekking. Mountain Equipment Co-op carries different pocket guides. There is a large difference in what you think is edible and knowing what actually is. When out foraging for berries, remember that the general rule is not to just strip one plant clean, but take just a few for immediate consumption or a few extras for later leaving enough to allow others and especially animals the chance to eat as well.
The first easily identifiable tasty morsel is the Blackberry – a member of the rose family – a thorny thicket shrub that produces large fruits. The blackberry is one of the few welcomed invasive species that feeds not only us but other species including worms, birds, rodents and of course deer and bears. This pie-delectable fruit is one of the most picked and the most recognizable too.
Thinking of recognizable fruits, this next one may be even more recognized than the first – the huckleberry. This fruit has been picked by more campers in campgrounds than any other edible fruit found in the forest. Did you know that the First Nation peoples of the Pacific Northwest first used huckleberries for its traditional medicinal properties? And that the picking of huckleberries in some parks is forbidden? When visiting BC’s Provincial Parks, please be mindful of the current restrictions regarding the picking of fruit and mushrooms. As it stands mushroom picking in BC Parks became illegal in the summer of 2018. Visit www.for.gov.bc.ca for more information.
This berry is what I refer to as the ugly raspberry AKA Thimbleberry. This compound berry is made up of tiny little bursts clustered together resembling an old dusty raspberry. It is however, by far the tastiest berry in my opinion. If you find thimbleberry jam in a Farmer’s Market, buy a few extra bottles – I know you’re going to be glad you did. This is one of the most delicious jams I have ever tasted – sweet but not sickly sweet with just enough tartness to bring you back to the jar again and again.
We all know and most love the blueberry. No, I’m not talking about the ones that your grocer sells. I’m talking about the fresh picked wild blueberry found in British Columbia’s backyard. Blueberries have been a source of medicine for many, dating back hundreds of years. We all know they are high in antioxidants, but did you know that before there were pharmacies on every street corner and the invention of Pepto Bismol that blueberry roots were boiled to make a tea which was drank to relieve common diarrhea.
Canada has the most blueberry bushes and is the number one exporter of blueberries in the world. British Columbia has many varieties but the highbush grows in all six regions of the province, representing 96% of the blueberry market. Blueberries are high in fibre and nutrients, low in calories and rich in antioxidants, making it one of the best go-to snacks. The blueberry has many look-a-likes, such as elderberries, junipers, Oregon grape, Saskatoon berries, gooseberries and currants and others that can be poisonous too, so it’s best to be sure of what you or your family is eating.
Dandelions are best known as the pest of the lawn. But did you know that the common dandelion is edible – from the flower to the root. A serving of young dandelion greens contains the same amount of calcium as half a cup of milk and is a good source of potassium, Vitamin’s A & C. If you wait until after they have flowered you are best to boil them for a few minutes, change the water and boil again to remove the bitterness. The flowers and seeds are excellent for cooking. Only eat dandelions that you are sure are pesticide free.
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Published: March 7, 2019
PoMoDee (Darlene) is the Social Media Coordinator for BC Lodging and Campgrounds Association managing platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest and Google + for Camping and RVing BC Coalition and Travelling in British Columbia. Darlene was born and raised in British Columbia, where she currently resides in Port Moody. Darlene calls herself an avid camper, who has been camping since the age of two and still enjoys the serene setting of a campsite. Interests include crocheting, crafting, photography and anything beach!