Many of us love berry picking around Vancouver. Blackberries, huckleberries, salmonberries, thimbleberries, raspberries there are so many in summer it can be quite exciting for people like me that love a free lunch.
Here is a list of some common berries that you may find alongside the edible ones.
Twinberry (Loricera involutcrata) – This shrub has shiny black berries and grows all over the North shore mountains near rivers. The berries are very distinctive and grow in 2 berry clusters about the size of a blueberry, flowers are bell-shaped and yellow in fused bract pairs. Leaves are oval and pointed at the tip. They were called raven’s food or monster food by First Nations peoples. The Kwakwaka’wakw believed that eating them would render a person unable to speak. There are no recorded poisonings by his berry, just myth and legend.
Snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus) – This is an easy one to avoid, just don’t ever eat any white berries as none of them are edible in our area.
Red elderberry ( Sambucus racemosa) – The stems, bark, leaves, roots and seeds are toxic, but the fruit pulp itself is edible. Some people make jam of the berries and strain out the seeds. The toxicity is the same as in apple seeds which contain a form of cyanide if chewed.
English Holly tree (Ilex aquifolia) – These red berries are good for birds but not for us, leaves are have sharp pointed spines.
Western Yew (Taxus brevifolia) – These red berries look like a red huckleberry. How can you tell them apart? The yew shrub has coniferous needles (evergreen) and the huckleberry has simple oval leaves with a point at the tip. Yew is very poisonous.
Any more common poisonous wild plants in the Vancouver area to add to my list? Message us below…