Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Berry of the day

Today's berry is the highbush cranberry. I knew well the low bush cranberry. It took a trip to the Whistler library and getting a library card to find this berry out! The library is new and right outside my door. How handy is that! The highbush cranberry is also called squashberry and Mooseberry up here in BC. There are important ways to be sure you know what a berry plant is. One is the form of its leaves. The very best thing to add to the leave knowledge is the flower it bears. With the leaves and flowers I can tell quickly most berries. But this time there was only some green berries with a touch of red coming on. Once the berries are ripe they are juicy and sweet. If we had been around for flowering this plant would have had a close cluster of tiny white flowers. Your raspberries etc have med to large flowers.

I checked out a book on the local native tribes eating history in the pacific northwest. Rich with berry eating. When peoples have eaten something for long generations you learn wisdom in how to use the Berry's. The Highbush cranberry is getting hard to find. I was delighted that I had.

Most Berries are fine to eat on the trail. Go hiking with someone who knows what is there and learn one at a time. Berries like elderberries can be very bad for you unless you cook them. They are famous for wine and jam. The native peoples like to soak the highbush cranberries for long periods and then in winter eat them like pudding.

On the trail I eat raspberries, black berries, Salal, wintergreen, Oregon grape, some gooseberries, service berries, salmon berries, blue berries, currents, wild strawberries (tasty but a lot of seeds), and huckleberries and thimbleberries (not my favorite).

What you never want to eat is Devils club, twin berries, bitter cherry, all the lily's,and honey suckle. There is more but the berries on these plants look good and ARE NOT.

Do you have questions? Do ask. You can get Vitamin C and some other great Vitamins in wild berries. Now is the time of year to enjoy them.

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