Appalachia Gardening Wild Fruits

Wild Berries in Appalachia

 

wild berries in western nc

This time of the year, I start checking on the blackberries that grow wild around my house. The berries are just now beginning to ripen. A recent email from a Blind Pig reader got me to thinking about the other wild berries that grow here.

dewberry

Dewberries are similar to blackberries in appearance and in taste. Dewberry brambles are smaller than their cousin the blackberry. Dewberries also have more of a twining vine look to them.

Around my house dewberries grow in the same areas blackberries do, as in across the road from each other. Although dewberries are just as tasty as blackberries they don’t usually bear the same quantity of fruit that blackberries do.

wild blueberries

Of all the berries blueberries are hands down my favorite. If nothing happens the ones I have planted in my yard look to hold the biggest harvest I’ve ever gotten. I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed the birds don’t find them.

Lucky for me wild blueberries also grow around my mountain holler and they’re already ripe. I found the little patch above growing along the bank of Steve’s (my brother) driveway. Kinda selfish, but I haven’t told anyone else because I’m eating them all by myself. And I’m hoping by next year the wild blueberry bushes will multiply…then maybe I’ll share my secret.

 

huckleberries

Huckleberries are similar in taste to blueberries, but they are much smaller and don’t get ripe till later in the season. Huckleberries grow all around my holler, but especially up on the ridge behind my house. The little patch in the photo is growing along the trail leading from Pap and Granny’s house to ours. When Chitter and Chatter were younger I used to watch for them when it was time for the school bus. They had a pretty far piece to walk. During the first weeks of school I knew they’d make pit stops at the huckleberry bushes that grow along the trail-eating their way home.

Another common berry around my house are gooseberries or at least they used to be common. I went to the bush I remembered being near Pap’s garage to get a picture, but it’s no where to be seen. I believe the last time the EMC trimmed they must have gotten it. Gooseberries are a greenish color and are shaped like blueberries. They have a sweet taste, but not as sweet as blueberries.

The season for wild strawberries has passed. Unfortunately I’ve never found many growing around our place or Pap and Granny’s. There used to be a wild raspberry down below Pap’s but it’s been gone for years, mowed down for new driveways and homes.

Lot’s of folks gather elderberries, but I wouldn’t know one if I seen one! I do wonder if they grow close by. Pap told me he was sure I could find some along the creek between here and the folk school, but I’ve never looked.

Hope you’ll leave me a comment and tell me about the wild berries around your place. Oh and be sure to drop back by in a few days for some berry picking tips from Blind Pig readers.

Tipper

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22 Comments

  • Reply
    Ethelene Jones
    July 2, 2017 at 11:21 am

    All the berries Tipper entioned grew in my beloved Choestoe where I grew up. We canned blueberries and blackberries and made jam and jelly. Dew berries had big seeds. We did not can to but used juice to make jelly. My place
    at Epworth had tame black-berries. My son who lives there now and picks if they bear

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    June 29, 2017 at 3:53 pm

    Tipper: Our BLUEBERRY HILL is just about cleared of the blueberries. We have nine bushes of three different kinds of blueberries. But when I pick them and put them all together, I can’t tell one kind from the other. However one kind ‘seems’ to produce larger berries. Soon we will just clear the rest of the berries and put down fresh pine needles for the winter!
    Eva Nell
    p.s. Still have copies of “Fiddler of the Mountains” on AMAZON – If someone would like a beautiful book WITH CD of mountain music (BEFORE BLUE GRASS!). It make a lovely gift!

  • Reply
    Magdalene Mwangi
    June 29, 2017 at 8:19 am

    wow, good information,thanks for sharing

  • Reply
    Tmc
    June 29, 2017 at 3:41 am

    We planted our own blueberries when we built this place, we found a few small patches of the wild blueberries, and a few blackberries.
    My john deere takes care of those, one berry I had never eaten was a service berry, we planted 3 bushes and got our first bunch this year, and they are good.
    My wife use to eat them when she’d visit her Grandparents.

  • Reply
    Ken
    June 28, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Tipper,
    I’ve noticed Chitter has new necklaces on her ETSY Store. My oldest girl’s girl, Ellie will just love the Pink heart shaped one and Annabelle will love the blue one with the unknown constellations glittering and red Amethyst dangling underneath. I’ll get those soon. …Ken

  • Reply
    wanda Devers
    June 28, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Hadn’t thought of huckleberries in years but have eaten so many as a child! We tried to get wild blackberries to grow along our fence but they never produced anything except teeny little ones. they’re harder and harder to find here and sometimes they are bitter. Always remember Granny’s holler so full of huge blackberries and chiggers!

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    June 28, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Tipper,
    We have blackberries, wild blueberries, tame blueberries, wild n’ tame raspberries, dewberries, Mulberries, wild strawberries…and I am sure elderberries, huckleberries and once I found on top of the ridge a few gooseberry bushes…
    Of all these plants the ones we get to keep are the blackberries, a few blueberries and occasional raspberries…The critters beat us to the rest.
    I used to pick Mulberries from a low branched tree on the edge of the garden…It had the biggest an longest mulberries that I ever saw. We would eat them right there in the garden while hoeing or picking beans. Just made sure to blow off the ants and hold a minute to make sure there wasn’t a worm that came up to the surface…ha
    I have picked blackberries ever since I was a child and wish I had a dollar for ever jar of jelly, jam, cobbler or pint of juice I helped my Mom make or preserves that I’ve made or put up frozen.
    I am craving a Razzleberry Pie. I love them mixed. Some make a three berry pie. But, I love just the raspberries and blackberries since strawberries here are long gone.
    We are hoping to get blueberries Thursday.
    I would love to get some Elderberries later when they ripen…I want to make an elixir for my dog, if I can find the right recipe. It is supposed to help them with pain and it is a natural treatment…He is 15 and he has a cough probably caused from a collapsing trachea which is normal for some dogs of his breed.
    Thanks Tipper,
    Loved this post…wish I could climb up to the mountains like we used to do when I was a girl and pick those low bush blueberries…with all the aunts and uncles of NC…but those are days gone by and I doubt I could even find the place where we picked all those blueberries.
    PS…I gotta go…Just finished beaking them and now have a lot of those GREEN BEAN LONG BERRIES to put up! Our beans have been doing great this year…I hope yours are as well…

  • Reply
    Janis Sullivan (Jan)
    June 28, 2017 at 11:18 am

    I have blackberries in my yard. The other berries I have not eaten in a while. Neighborhood too civilized. Haven’t had gooseberries since the second grade pickings and that was a long time ago.

  • Reply
    Ken
    June 28, 2017 at 11:10 am

    Tipper,
    I’ve picked an awful lot of berries (wild) in my lifetime. Although I like Blueberry Pie a lot, my favorite is Blackberry Cobbler. I love those little wild strawberries too. There use to be a place above my house that had lots of Buckberries in it, so thick a Rabbit would have trouble getting thru it. The bushes weren’t waist high but you could eat your fill without moving.
    I love these posts about life in Appalachia. …Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    June 28, 2017 at 10:35 am

    Why does raspberry have a p in it if nobody uses it?
    I have plenty of blackberries and a few dewberries here. I have wild strawberries in my yard but they ain’t big enough to risk getting down on the ground for. Actually getting down is not the problem. Sometimes I sit on a bucket and eat a few now and then. They remind me of a time when strawberries were grown for their taste, not to ship well and look good in a store display.
    I used to pick what I called buckberries. They looked like a blueberry only they were bigger and black in color. They grew on a little bush usually under two feet tall. There were taller bushes but they didn’t bear. I made some wine one time when I was a kid using buckberries. I washed the berries and put them in a bottle along with some sugar, put the cap on and hid it in the closet. I watched it to make sure it was working right but I didn’t have any idy what I was looking for. After about three weeks I decided to sample it so I took it outside and took off the cap. You’ve seen where the winner shakes up the champagne and sprays everybody around. Well, I wasn’t the winner but I shore got sprayed. With sticky red buckberry wine! It wasn’t even enough left in the bottle to taste.

  • Reply
    SuzyJ
    June 28, 2017 at 10:22 am

    The yard at my new home was being taken over by a blackberry patch! I had it bush hogged down and a deep fire pit dug in its place and is the future site of my pallet patio and teke bar.
    Those big patches house snakes, rabbits, mice and chiggers! Not worth having them that close to the house for me.
    I’ve seen a few wild strawberries in the yard, but they are the tinestest little things not worth picking, but pretty.
    Have a blessed day all 🙂

  • Reply
    Cynthia
    June 28, 2017 at 10:21 am

    There used to be blackberries at the end of our alley, and one year I was able to pick enough for a cobble. When I got back home, I looked like I had been in a cat fight! I’ll see blackberries along the road, too. I’m in the Richmond, Va. suburbs.

  • Reply
    Marg Mackall
    June 28, 2017 at 9:34 am

    Look into the elderberries because the elderberry is great to make the syrup that has so many medicinal uses: Elderberry is used for “the flu” (influenza), H1N1 “swine” flu, HIV/AIDS, and boosting the immune system. It is also used for sinus pain, back and leg pain (sciatica), nerve pain (neuralgia), and chronic fatigue syndrome syrup. I find it to be really a great natural alternative for pain relief and in view of the opioid epidemic, it is a great alternative. Older people are going back to using it because Medicare will not cover alternative treatments like acupuncture and they want to avoid pain pills.
    this site shows all about the benefits and how to make it:
    https://realfoodrn.com/homemade-elderberry-syrup

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    June 28, 2017 at 9:25 am

    Unfortunately we have no berries that grow near here. The woods however are full of huckleberries, blueberries and blackberries, & a pawpaw or two

  • Reply
    Patsy
    June 28, 2017 at 9:19 am

    I spotted wild blackberries, of all places, along the parking lot of the Walmart. We picked at least nine or ten quarts and enjoyed eating cobbler, galette, and pies, yummy! Someone else must have spotted them too because the last time we went all the ripe berries were gone, the canes were mashed down and there was a nice stick left behind. Hahaha

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    June 28, 2017 at 8:54 am

    Tipper–I am aghast that you aren’t familiar with elderberries. They are common as pig tracks, make fine wine, jelly, and pie, and the pith-filled sprouts of the bushes are fine for a popgun or as a special little storage unit for a certain type (suction yelper) of turkey call. The bloom clusters are also edible, although I’ve never tried them. Pap knew exactly what they preferred as habitat–ditch banks, road edges or fence rows where it tends to be a bit wet, and most any fairly open place where they can enjoy wet feet (roots).
    You overlooked mulberries which I really like although Daddy always swore there was a little worm in every berry. Maybe so, but if that’s the case I’ve eaten plenty of that particular type of protein.
    Likewise, wild raspberries are mighty fine (both the black, tip-rooting type and the red ones found especially at high elevations).
    As for blueberries, I wish you were here to pick. I’ve got literally gallons going to waste because I can’t keep up with them. I give them to folks but I’m only willing to do so much give-away picking.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Shirl
    June 28, 2017 at 8:53 am

    Dad and Mom would load us kids in the back of the truck for a trip to The Breaks Interstate Park when we were little. A bunch of children riding a long distance in the back of a truck would land a parent in jail today, but was a common sight back in the day. Dad would pull the truck over to the bank and out we would go to pick and eat huckleberries until our bellies were full. I haven’t seen a huckleberry since I was a child.
    The old lady who used to live here said she would take two five gallon buckets and pick them full of blackberries several times a year. I don’t know what happened, but I can’t seem to find a cup full. The ones I saw last week were so tiny it would be a waste of time to pick them.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    June 28, 2017 at 8:49 am

    Speaking of Goose Berries the ridge behind our house at Needmore used to be covered with them, now they have all died and disappeared. When I was younger I could pick enough Goose Berries in a short time for Mom to make a Goose Berry Cobbler, I loved them but haven’t seen any Goose Berries in years. I wonder if a blight has killed them like it did the Amercan Chestnut?

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    June 28, 2017 at 8:35 am

    I have been seeing lots of elderberry bloom this year. But that was earlier and the bloom is probably gone by now, even up your way. Elderberry is easy to identify. As your Dad said, they like damp places. The bloom is a large, flat and white structure, nearly as big as a dinner plate. The leaves are compound, like a walnut. A real giveaway is the very large pith in the stems, in a one inch or so stem the pith is as big or bigger than a pencil.
    If there are high bush huckleberries and bears in the neighborhood, the bears straddle the stem, walk up it and eat the berries off at the top. They leave the bushes bent over, showing the underside of the leaves, which can be spotted for a long way through the woods.
    Your post today reminds me again of my Grandma. She had seasonal rounds she would make to gather wild edibles.
    Be careful picking huckleberries. They are so low-growing it puts one down close to the snakes.

  • Reply
    Jackie
    June 28, 2017 at 8:12 am

    WE picked 6 gallons of blueberries last week and we plan to pick again today. Some of our bushes have hit their prime and others are just beginning to ripen. I have 7 bushes and put a net over them to TRY to keep the birds out.

  • Reply
    Ricky Stonecypher
    June 28, 2017 at 8:11 am

    Tipper have you or readers heard of Wine Berries.? Got some at produce market yesterday. He just had 2 quart said grew wild in mountains. There rare berries. What a day to do berries! Thank’s to the people on site, just love reading post. Rick in Tennessee Hills

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    June 28, 2017 at 6:53 am

    Tip, I have wild black raspberries growing way back in my yard. There aren’t a lot if them but I’m clearing some around them and above them so maybe next year they will grow more. I really like black raspberries. They make wonderful jam/jelly!

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