Saturday, June 26, 2010

Huckleberry Preserve - Attempted berry foraging edition

So I went up to Huckleberry preserve in hopes of finding thimbleberries, a native, and supposedly delicious berry I have yet to taste.  Well the first plants I found were only in flower.  And while there were some berries after all further down the trail, none of them were ripe yet.  It will have to wait till later.
This park always amazes me with it's variety of native plants and a wonderful, quiet beauty.  Here is filtered sunlight on California grape.
I also saw a bee at work on these blackberry blossoms and another one that seems to have passed out drunk from the monkeyflower nectar.  He didn't move for a good minute or more.  Better for my camera.
 I don't know if I'm more aware, but I swear that some plants are more common now than just a few years ago.  California rose for example is scattered along the trail in quite a few spots now.  Here's a rosehip just starting to form.  And although most of the rose blooms were done for the year, a few more were getting ready to open.
Another reason I came to the preserve was to look for California hazelnuts (Corylus cornuta var californica).  Also edible, but not quite ripe.  A very strange, but beautiful housing for the future nuts. And the buds just awakening.
And I wanted to see if there were any ribes berries to sample.  The ribes species that grow in the park I don't think are very tasty, but I'm still curious to try some.  They weren't ripe either.
It seems like our wet and late winter pushed some things back from their usual cycle.   Luckily I didn't mind just having a pleasant walk through the woods.


  1. Really great destination there--even if the fruits were taking their time to mature. I didn't even know the state had its own hazelnut--one of my personal favorites. But it looks like it doesn't like life here in the southern end. Snacks for my hikes seem pretty much limited to yucca flowers, elderberries and sour rose hips.

  2. In my experiences, based exclusively on Ribes aureum, currants are rather seedy and faintly sour, thus not very good to eat raw. They can, however, be mixed with something sweeter and cooked in any number of recipes.

  3. While I haven't had a thimbleberry in CA, in Idaho they were quite bland. There, they required the heat of summer to ripen. Don't know if it's been hot enough long enough in the East Bay for that yet. Do you know whether hikers are permitted to gather berries in the parks? I've often wondered, as wild fruit makes such fabulous jams and pies.

  4. I've had good thimbleberries before. Never had a wild hazelnut. That sounds intriguing. I wonder if they're good. Huckleberry is my favorite Bay Area park.

  5. Sorry the thimbleberries weren't quite ripe. Your drunk bee me made me chuckle. I found one that was down right comatose (or worse) on our Monkeyflower the other day. Didn't want to poke it for fear of waking it! This year has been a fabulous year for natives I think. It's the first year I've really scrutinized this property, but I've seen plants this year I've never noticed before...unfortunately, not all are good, but at least I'm working out an inventory of what we have, and what to cull. If you really want ribes, we have quite a lot of Ribes californicum that have set fruit...but honestly, the fruits look rather formidable, and spiky...the deer don't seem to care, but I haven't been brave enough to try them yet!

  6. I've been growing native rubes for a couple of years, and I've never seen them even flower.

  7. Lisa do you mean Ribes or Rubus?

  8. I have never tried Huckleberries before. I do have great memories of picking blackberries in the forests of the Santa Cruz mountains as a child :-)

  9. Danged i-phone auto correct!

    I mean ribes.

    By the way, it's worth mentioning that the East By regional Parks District does not allow collecting of plant material (or anything) on their property. You can get a hefty ticket for doing this, upwards of $200.

    If you want to go foraging, try the Oakland City parks, like Joaquin Miller.