Phenology Files: August 2022

phenology fi-ˈnä-lə-jē 1 : a branch of science dealing with the relations between climate and periodic biological phenomena (such as bird migration or plant flowering) 2: periodic biological phenomena that are correlated with climatic conditions.

Red Huckleberry at the Lyre, photo by LC

August is berry season! Here in Washington, we are lucky to have an incredible amount of wild berries all around us. Blackberries, huckleberries, salmonberries (coming to an end of their season), thimbleberries, wild blueberries, salal berries, Oregon grape, and more.

Blackberries, salal berries, and late season huckleberries are in their prime in August. Though we have many edible types of berries, there are also a few to look out for, as they are poisonous. As you identify and pick berries, ensure you are 100% confident that the wild berry you are picking is edible.

One berry you are sure to run into, no matter if you are looking for it or not, is the Himalayan Blackberry. Though the bursting dark purple berries taste so good, the plant is listed as a Class C Noxious Weed—meaning that controlling the plant is recommended, but not required. The enormous stems of the Himalayan blackberry can grow upwards of 13 feet tall, and extend 20-40 feet. The invasive blackberry was introduced in the 1800s and thrives in the Pacific Northwest climate.

Native Trailing Blackberry, King County

The native blackberry plant in our area is known by many names: rubus ursinus, pacific blackberry, or trailing blackberry, to name a few.  The native species has a more delicate stem and trails along the ground, rather than growing upwards, and tend to grow in forested understory. These plants develop smaller, more firm berries with less moisture in them. These berries are known to taste sweeter than the Himalayan blackberry.

Read more about Pacific Northwest Berries here, in this picture guide!

Happy berry hunting season!

Information from King County, University of Washington, and Pacific Northwest Foraging by Douglas Deur.