Nature Hobbies: Identifying Berries in the Forest

I live in northern Minnesota, surrounded by trees, lakes, and wildlife. I love it here. So many things to see and places to explore. Right now, the seasons are stuck between winter’s thaw and a shiver-inspiring, icy-white wonderland.

Each season has its good and bad, but I’m really looking forward to spring.  Spring means birds chirping outside my sunlit window, fawns frolicking through fields with their mothers, and new buds for fresh flowers, and berries.

Last year, in early summer, I was walking through the woods with a berry identification book. (I also have books for birds and flowers! I just love studying wildlife!) It’s an excellent book, with pages organized by color of berries and other fruits.  The photos and descriptions are clear and its small size makes it perfect for fitting into pockets.

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There are so many berries!  And, with this guide book, I can also tell which berries are poisonous, which are inedible, and which are deliciously perfect for foraging.

Here are a few of my photos from last season:

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Blueberries are pretty recognizable, and delicious!

Just don’t mix them up with the Blue Bead Lily, which is not edible.  However, the leaves of a freshly growing plant can be eaten.  They are delightful and fresh, like a cucumber.

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Sarsaparilla is also not edible, but the underground rhizome is very fragrant and has been used to make teas and other beverages (but not root beer or the drink called sarsaparilla!  It’s a common misconception, they are traditionally made with the root of the sassafras tree!)

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Red raspberries are one of my favorites.  When I was a child, I would walk through the woods, winding through branches and crawling over moss-covered fallen trees to find my secret place, which had blackberries, wild strawberries, and red raspberries growing in abundance.

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Doll’s Eyes may be cute (or creepy), but they are not at all edible.  In fact, every part of this plant is toxic, don’t eat it!

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Rose Twisted Stalk isn’t toxic, but it is also not edible.

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Twining Honeysuckle sounds like it might taste good, but actually, it’s not edible, either.

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Alder-Leaved Buckthorn is another non-edible plant, but can sometimes be difficult to find.

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Once winter finally releases its hold and gives way to spring and early summer, I will wander through the woods again, searching for berries.  What about you?  Do you like foraging?  What else do you love about spring? 

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