Wildflowers & Trees Of Appalachia

Hunting Sarvis Berries

handful of sarvis berries

Ripe Sarvis Berries

“When I was a child my grandmother would take us sarvis hunting in the woods, she would take a sheet and a wooden maul to bang on the trees to knock the berries on the sheet. Sometimes is was necessary to cut the tree down, this was back in the 30s so the tees were plentiful. Greatest memory of my early childhood.”

—Mary Helen Barrowman

Sarvis berries are so sweet! I would have loved to have stogged through the woods with Mary and her grandmother gathering the tasty berries.

The white blooms of Sarvis trees dot the mountains around my holler this time of the year. The only problem is…when those wonderful berries get ripe they are in the tip top of the tree. I’m thinking I need to get me a maul and see if that works better than shaking 🙂

If you’re not familiar with Sarvis trees here’s some posts about them:

Last night’s video: Dorie Woman of the Mountains 13.


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  • Reply
    Larry Paul Eddings
    April 23, 2022 at 1:16 pm

    We have Sarvis trees here on the western side of the Tennessee Valley. I love to eat the sweet berries. The blooms are beautiful in the Spring.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    April 23, 2022 at 11:24 am

    I don’t recall ever eating Sarvis Berries. I guess I’ll have to take a hike and see if I can find some!

    • Reply
      Kathy Patterson
      April 23, 2022 at 2:17 pm

      Me too. I have never eaten them either. Here in the Blue Ridge we have Sarvis Berries but I didn’t know that you could eat them. Kathy Patterson

    • Reply
      April 23, 2022 at 7:07 pm

      I recall my Mom used to tell me to take a hike….quite often now that I think about it…!

  • Reply
    Angelyn McLain
    April 23, 2022 at 11:05 am

    I have never heard of this tree. I will have to check it out. I ask my husband and he hadn’t heard about it. It could be we are too far south or maybe just need to get in the woods more. He is a hunter though and certainly in the woods more than I am.

  • Reply
    April 23, 2022 at 9:45 am

    Sweet memories for Mary. The berries look good too and her grandmother’s method of gathering the berries sounds a lot easier than trying to shake a tree. Give her method a try Tipper and let us know if that works better for you. Thank you and Mary for sharing!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    April 23, 2022 at 8:54 am

    Oh my, spring comes so fast and also goes fast. It is already trying to be summer here. I have had 3 saris here (none planted by me) but they are not happy, too hot and dry. Down to two now and neither in good shape. Only one bears and the birds usually eat the berries before they really get ripe.

    I think your picture is a very fine way to show saris in several respects. For one, a small handful is about the way one usually gets them. For another it is an illustration of gathering from the wild; a little of this, a little of that and where/when you find it. And finally it is symbolic of sharing, which is what you do.

    Growing up, we would sometimes get lucky enough to find a sarvis growing below a cliff with its top above it. That was easy picking so long as we didn’t fall over. (We never did, though it was by grace and mercy. We took chances enough.) But the window of opportunity is short, something like two weeks before they are gone. Everybody ought to have some at least once if they can. They only taste like themselves so they can’t be compared to anything else.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    April 23, 2022 at 8:18 am

    I used to climb up to Gregory Bald in late June to enjoy the azalea bloom. At that elevation, the sarvis berries get ripe at about the same time, so I’d be on the lookout for some.

    One year I went up by way of the Long Hungry Ridge and by the time I topped out at the former Rye Patch, decided that a rest and maybe a little nap would be nice. So I took off my day pack to use for a pillow and laid down. I was just about to doze off when CRACK – there was the sound of a limb breaking. I sat up, but didn’t see anything, so lay back down. A couple of minutes later, another limb broke – in a tree much closer by.

    This time, I saw what was causing the limbs to break – there was a black bear up in there, breaking the limbs of sarvis trees to get to the berries.

    I decided I’d had all the rest I needed, and marched on.

    • Reply
      Kathy Patterson
      April 23, 2022 at 2:22 pm

      I would be moving on too.
      We have a Black Bear that grew up here on the farm. He likes to get dog food out of the back of the pick up. We have to be sure to put the dog food in the storage building. Kathy Patterson

  • Reply
    Margie G
    April 23, 2022 at 7:51 am

    I’ve not seen nor could I swear I’ve seen or would know a Sarvis berry in southern WV. The very idea of chopping a tree down to get Sarvis berries “cause there were plenty more” kind of upsets me. It’s the short term gain over long term loss. That seems to be the way with most people and their outlook. Good luck getting those little berries out of a tree top. I’d say you’ll need it. Lol

  • Reply
    Glenda G. Page
    April 23, 2022 at 6:58 am

    I loved your ‘reading’ yesterday…especially about ‘little Snowball’…You absolutely brought the picture of that youngin’ hanging from the tree. I have a sister-in-law that use to put splints on baby goats when they would break or injure their legs and sure enough, it would heal. I do hope ‘Dorie’ goes on and on and when you finish with her you already have another one in the ‘bank’ so to speak. Thanks so much and God Bless.

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