Welcome to blueberry country! Its time to fill your buckets and dig
out your recipes! Whether you are a veteran berry picker or a first
timer, it is relatively easy to locate the this tasty north woods treat.
Here's some information to that might help you become a more successful
When to pick blueberries:
Typically, the season runs from the end of July through most of
August. White blossoms appear in May and the berry itself ripens in
late July and early August.
Where to look:
The Superior National Forest has numerous berry picking locations
scattered throughout the forest. Some of these areas have been scouted
and are visited yearly, but with a little patience you may discover
you own "hot spot"!
For good picking, look around rock outcroppings surrounded by sandy
soil with thin tree cover. Abandoned logging roads, recently logged
over areas, and old burn sites provide good potential. Tall Jack pine
with low underbrush or large, open areas with very little aspen growth
and a scattering of exposed rocks also are promising sites.
Be prepared to do a little exploring. Not all patches are full of
thickly laden bushes. If you are in moderately good physical condition
you may want to try climbing some rocky hillsides or do some foot
exploring alongside of forest roads.
Correctly identifying blueberries:
The blueberry (Vaccinium) plant is a low branching shrub ranging from about six
inches to two feet in height, with oblong leaves and flowers in
white or pinkish clusters. The berries, when ripe, are a deep blue
color with a whitish film which rubs off. The berries number from
one to possible six or eight in a clump. Immature fruits vary in
color from white to pale blue or green. The leaves are short (about
2-4 cm long), elliptical in shape, finely toothed, and alternate on
the stem. There are two common species: one with velvety leaves and
the other with shiny leaves.
Be sure not to confuse the edible blueberry with the poisonous
fruit of the Bluebead Lily (Clintonia borealis) which also has a
blue colored berry, but grows on a non-woody stem about six inches
straight up from the leaf base at ground level. This plant has one
to three pearly-blue berries which are poisonous. Another plant
with blue colored berries that are not edible is the Wild
Sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis). This plant has two stems rising
from the ground, one with five leaflets and one with a ball-like
cluster of deep blue-black berries.
Remember, black bears are extremely fond of blueberries. To avoid
potential danger, it is best to yield your favorite berry picking
patch to bears should they choose to claim it for their own.
When picking berries, please use care to prevent forest fires.
Be especially careful with cigarettes.
Please leave your favorite berry picking area litter free.
-article courtesy of the Superior National Forest, used
Picking in the Boundary Waters