Are they wild huckleberries or blueberries?
When we first found our country property (26 acres on the side of a forested hill), we noticed one thing right away. The hillside seemed to be covered with wild blueberry plants. They were small, granted, but they were abundant, and this got us excited!
We’ve not done much with wild blueberries before, but just the knowledge that the soil and environment was right for their growth made us happy, because we planned to plant some cultivated bushes. This hill being covered with wild plants told us that the cultivated plants should thrive!
The summers since then, we noticed a few stray wild blueberries, but I think that the bears got most of them. We only found a few.
One other thing that I’ve thought of many times since we’ve moved to this property is the many blueberry plants that we left behind. My husband planted around a hundred bushes where we moved from, and we were regularly picking gallons per week in the summers. Walking away from all of those thriving bushes was hard. We have put in around forty bushes here, but they are just beginning, so it will take several years before we have a good crop.
When I took a walk up to the blueberry hill the other day, I happily noticed the new plants that were bursting with blossoms. Then I saw that the hill that we cleared for the blueberry bushes had an abundant supply of wild blueberry plants that seemed to be taking off better than before. I think this is because we cleared some of the other plants out, so the remaining plants now have more space, plus more sunshine.
We will have to wait and see what happens with these wild plants, but so far they are covered with an abundant supply of blossoms! But, it’s like God reminded me of what He wants me to do in this circumstance.
…Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling…Philippians 3:13,14
Blueberries or Huckleberries?
When I stopped to take a picture of the blossoms, I noticed that many of them were dark, unlike the white blossoms on the blueberry bushes that we planted. I didn’t think much about this, until I began to wonder if maybe we have huckleberries, not wild blueberries.
I’ve been doing some searching, and what I’ve found so far suggests that this may be the case. Huckleberry blossoms typically are red, not white, and there are some other characteristics that I still need to check out. For instance, the bottoms of the leaves are supposed to have some tiny golden speckles, visible with a magnifying glass. We haven’t checked that out yet, as we had rain today.
Also, the ovule of the huckleberry is supposed to have ten, not five chambers. I sent my son to bring me a blossom so that we could check this out, but do you know how tiny those little blossoms are? Very! We simply could not determine how many chambers were in there! Our microscope is still packed. Need to find that and see what we can tell.
HereHuckleberries have ten hard seeds, and wild blueberries have softer seeds. We do remember having crunchy seeds, but can’t remember how many! You can bet that we will be paying attention to the berries this year, and we hope that we can get to them before the bears and deer do! Huckleberries are a grizzly bear’s favorite treat! If we see a grizzly here in East TN, I guess we will know for sure!
Here’s one helpful site that shows the differences between huckleberries and wild blueberries.
We’ll be happy with either!
Huckleberries or wild blueberries–does it really matter?
Not really to us! We’re just excited to find out that this year we will get to experience one or both! If they’re all wild blueberries, we will fight the wildlife to get a few. And if it turns out that we have huckleberries, then that will be an extra treat, because I hear that they are delicious!
Beggars can’t be choosers! God planted this hillside of berries! We are just waiting to see if we can identify what He has given us! We will keep you posted on the berry status, if we figure it out for sure ourselves!
Maybe someone better versed in berries will chime in and tell us what they think about our huckleberry/blueberry dilemma.
I found this site helpful in differentiating between wild blueberries and huckleberries.
To see what else is growing this Spring at Ridge Haven Homestead, check out our Spring Wildflower Walk post. Every day something new is popping out!