Western Huckleberry (Vaccinium Membranaceum)

Western Huckleberry

Western Huckleberry

Western Huckleberry

Western Huckleberry

Location: So where do you find them? It would be silly of me to give you the GPS coordinates of the patch I pick from but I’ll toss up a few hints. First you want to go up, up and away. These huckleberries are rarely seen under 2000 ft. elevation so the first trick is being willing to drive up some rugged mountain roads. Second hint: look down. The bushes rarely grow any larger then about four feet tall and most run at about a foot and a half so the black berries on the trees are going to be at your feet. The areas that work well are ones logged off with trees still remaining so the bushes are usually in sunlight or partial sun and look for bear berries. The shiny bear berry plant is easy to identify and commonly grows right alongside of the thinleaf huckleberry plant. Last hint? If you do run into plants but the berries are too ripe go up higher where the temperature are cooler and you can pluck later into the relatively short picking season.

Information:
There are many names associated with this particular plant; it commonly accepted as the thin-leafed huckleberry however it’s has enough of a reputation to have many names. It is the most commonly plucked plant and most likely if you’ve had a real huckleberry shake this is the plant it came from. Examples of the various names are (scientific) Vaccinium Membranaceum, Mountain huckleberry, mountain bilberry, black huckleberry, tall huckleberry, big huckleberry, globe huckleberry, or Montana huckleberry. Side note; as of date in our area freshly picked huckleberries sell for 40 dollars a pound which makes your efforts worthwhile.

Huckleberry Muffins

Huckleberry Pancakes

Huckleberry Pie

Huckleberry Jam

For those of you completely new to the canning buisness this website actually takes out all the guess work while still teaching you to make Blueberry Jam.

How to Make Blueberry Jam – Easily!

Understand that any blueberry recipe works wonders with this little berry – just measure equal amounts and this works as a nice substitute with a slightly different flavor.

Identification:
Can easily be confused with the dwarf blueberry or dwarf bilberry. (Which also is rumored to exist in our area as well.) In this case the leaf is the key with the bilberry there is a line at the end of the leaf, which is very slight but unmistakable, a web search on the dwarf bilberry and looking at the leaves you’ll see that the center line in the leaf seems to go beyond the edges of the leaf. A secondary issue with this particular plant is as you can see by the first shot that the berries when ripe actually are various colors which is unlike most plants in the “blueberry” family. I also included the shot where you can see that when the berries ripen it’s not uncommon for the thin-leaves to start to turn fall colors sooner than all other plants. Seeing the first set of leaves turning color is really enough reason to investigate and look for berries as at this point in time (Late July) few have turned like this.

USDA Plant Database on the thinkleaf huckleberry

E-Flora on the thinleaf huckleberry

Advertisements

About this entry