It is the beginning of July in the Pacific North West and the eating is good.
Three species Oregon Grape are well endowed with powder blue berries at the moment. Bitter to taste they supposedly make a nice, tart jelly which I hope to explore making. Please note that while edible, Oregon Grapes contain Berberine, which is potentially toxic. Do not shy away from this bitter, just be aware.
Wild strawberries are definitely hidden gems of country roadsides. Their size makes them almost impossible to see at a distance but their foliage hints and the sweet treasures obscured beneath.
Blackberries come in three varieties also. Pacific or Trailing, Evergreen and the ever popular and best known Himalayan Blackberry. Right now, the Himalayan is just starting to ripen and offer a tasty treat in numerous locations along trails and roadsides, overgrown lots and yards.
Salmon Berries are out and about too but my frequent haunts seem to offer these less often than the Huckleberries that usually keep them company beneath the forest canopy.
Huckleberries are out in full force still. perfect red, miniature globes hung amidst the verdant and delicate lace foliage.
Thimble berries have always been one of my favorite to pluck and eat while strolling. They almost look like couch cushions you would find at your Grandma’s house. They are very fragile and more often than not I end up licking them off my finger tips.
This year being flush with foraging firsts allowed me to experience Salal for the first time. While not a berry but a swollen sepal, the taste and look is indeed berry like (as you can see from the photo above). The sepals turn a deep purple and go almost black in certain light when ripe. They are slightly tacky to the touch and a bit involved to remove the stem and dried blossom but so worth it. The sweetness is that of a muted blueberry with a hint of warm spice like cinnamon. I carefully picked handfuls and ate them where I stood; my finger tips turning more purple by the minute. I will look forward to this special find year after year.
There are of course apples to be found ranging from tart, crab apples to varieties whose names were forgotten long ago. Occasionally cherry trees and other forgotten homestead trees and bushes find themselves wild again as property lines shift as cities grow out of farmland and parks take shape in neighborhoods.
Foraging can be done anywhere that plants grow. Be mindful when gathering wild treats, that sustainability and knowledge is of the utmost importance.