Edible Plants - Far North - Berries
Many berries in more northern climates, including currants, cranberries, strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries are found along timbered regions, bogs, hillsides, and along streams. Look for berries along these areas.
There are seven basic berries in far northern climates to look for, when it comes to edible food sources, they are:
Blueberries-- Native to the United States, blueberries are easily recognizable and where they grow wild, often abundant. Their fruit may be found May through October. The Philippine Blueberry (Vaccinium) variety is also a good food source. Blueberries are not native to Australia.
Cranberries -- Available mid September through December, cranberries come from a variety of small, dwarf sized evergreen shrubs or trailing vines. They are found in bogs in Arctic regions. Their flowers are dark pink with very unique petals. The blooms are a major honey-bee magnet. The fruit is the edible part. If it is white, it is not ripe. Look for dark red berries.
Crowberry-- This small evergreen health like plant has brownish black berries that are single seeded, juicy and sweet. Usually, you'll find them on bushes in the winter. They are circumpolar distributed globally.
Currants -- There are many types of currants, all of which grow on deciduous shrubs. One thing they all have in common is that they are multiple-stemmed clumping plants. They can grow to about four to five feet talk. The fruits can be red, black, green, or yellow, depending on the variety. They are a good source of Vitamin C and other important minerals.
Raspberries -- Like the cranberry, raspberries are major honey bee magnets. These bushes are quite invasive in areas where they grow, if left unattended by man. Since they are tremendously healthy, they are a very desirable berry to look for as an emergency food source. Traditionally, most Americans think of them as being red. However, their fruits can be red, black, purple, or a beautiful yellow. The leaves are also edible and make a fine tea.
Salmon-berry-- Of all the berries in the far north, the Salmon-berry is the most important nutritionally. Like the Crowberry, it is circumpolar in distribution globally. It's fruit looks very much like a yellow colored raspberry. The Salmon-berry grows close to the ground and where found, can cover acres. Of course, the berries are available in the summer, but you can probably still find them frozen on the stalks in the winter and early spring. Eat these raw, however, they taste better cooked.
Strawberries -- Called the world's most favorite fruit, these berries need no descriptors to most peoples. Like the raspberry, the fruits can be found in a variety of colors, primarily red and golden. In the wild, strawberries are very small fruits. Think of them as a dessert, as it will take many to satisfy hunger.
Note of caution: Remember that in the wild, other mammals, specifically bears, are also seeking the same food sources.