phenology fi-ˈnä-lə-jē n 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.
Salmonberry, and other berries of similar appearance, are technically known as fleshy aggregated drupelets! This means that the fruit is composed of a bunch of small drupes. Drupes are soft “fleshy” tissue that surround a single hard seed. We’ll stick to calling them berries for now…
Salmonberry is hailed as the harbinger of summer, pink flowering blossoms converting to bright yellow-orange or red berries. These native berries are similar in shape and size to raspberries, but taste slightly more tart. These plants are commonly found in both wild and public natural areas.
Once the berries ripen, they become an excellent food source for wildlife. Many types of birds munch on these berries, and in more wild settings, bears can’t help sampling them either!
From their vibrant flowery form, a berry is born. These berries can be gathered from mid-June to late July, and are often used to make jams and jellies. The plants hold cultural significance to many unique tribes along the Pacific Northwest coast – many harvest the berries, roots, leaves, and shoots. The berries and young shoots are often eaten with salmon meat or eggs, while the leaves and roots can be used to make tea to treat stomach issues.
Before harvesting salmonberry or other plants, remember to use sustainable and responsible harvesting guidelines. The Honorable Harvest by Robin Wall Kimmerer sheds light on what this means:
Honorable Harvest, by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Ask permission of the ones whose lives you seek. Abide by the answer.
Never take the first. Never take the last.
Harvest in a way that minimizes harm.
Take only what you need and leave some for others.
Use everything that you take.
Take only that which is given to you.
Share it, as the Earth has shared with you.
Reciprocate the gift.
Sustain the ones who sustain you, and the Earth will last forever.