Saturday, August 2, 2008

All Huckleberries to Me

When picking these berries, I make quite an effort to find taller bushes. This makes for less stooping when picking, and potentially you can find a few bushes with the motherload, since taller bushes tend to be larger generally. I think there have been times when half of what I picked came off such finds. We tend to call these bigger bushes deerberries, but as mentioned in an earlier post, in some cases may be juneberries, bilberries, or serviceberries. In order to really identify these things correctly, evidently you have to study them when they have their blossoms. Certainly, judging by the variation in size and color on the taller bushes alone, more than one species or sub-species is involved.

Here is how I think someone could put all the rest of us to shame picking these things:
*quit your job and move near the patch so you can check it constantly.
*in particular try to ascertain when the larger bushes are really ripening.
*head out on the ideal morning and pick a gallon or so, perhaps more.

I believe this is possible, but it is also possible that the 'green berry' factor will limit success. You just can't pick them green, I tried taking a bush home and seeing if I could simulate leaving them "vine on" to ripen, but this failed completely. And when they do ripen, the birds etc. are very effective competition. So it does seem that to some degree you have the problem of finding too many green ones and fast-disappearing ripe ones.

This last trip I was awestruck by one large plant I found. It had a few branches that grew over my head by several feet like many of the others, but this time I noticed that these were coming out of some kind of old stump. It occurred to me that what I was looking at was quite old; the plant looked vigorous, and I got the idea that it would continue to be able to send new shoots out of this old stump as needed fairly indefinitely. It was inconceivable to me that it would only be a decade or so old. If an expert looked at it and said it was 20, 30, 50 years old or more it just wouldn't surprise me.

Running out of topic? not yet, stay tuned.

4 comments:

Louise said...

Ok, you've hinted at least twice about "operations moving to Maryland"...now post about it! I want to know!

Carlw4514 said...

first hint, I used to hunt in MD so know some potential good spots where I don't think you have the problem of berry picking not being allowed.

I don't doubt we will still sometimes hit that patch in Caroline County VA but something closer would sure be nice as an option.

Stay tuned for full explanation.

Carlw4514 said...

matt and marsha, regarding our conversation, I re-checked and what you sent said the huckleberry *flowers* are pink.

"Huckleberries have pink flowers and blueberries typically have white flowers."
from the link you sent,
http://tinyurl.com/5q6uk3

From what I can glean from the book and the internet, studying the flowering stage is pretty key to identifying species. You would need to be a pretty dedicated botanist to check all that out. Plus species/subspecies must change from region to region.

Suzanne said...

Oh oh - does this mean we have to plant a huckleberry bush next to the hops vine?