Huckleberries

The evergreen huckleberry is a one of many evergreen shrubs native to Pacific coastal forests.

1806

Huckleberries were first noted by Captain Lewis at Oregon’s Fort Clatsop in 1806. The plant was brought into cultivation by David Douglas in 1826.

This shrub can grow to 12 feet or more in the shade, sometimes a bit erratic growth spikes. It, like other berries in the vaccinium family, like acidic soil. The huckleberry tolerates salt spray and strong winds.

Flowers

In the spring, branches are covered with clusters of small, pinkish-white bell-shaped flowers which yield tiny blue-black fruit in late summer.

Flowers attract bees, birds, and butterflies. Berries are eaten by songbirds, mammals, and humans.

Like its most well-known relative, the common blueberry, huckleberries contain high concentrations of antioxidants and were favored by native populations.

Today, they are frequently eaten raw and used to make pies, jams, jellies, syrups, and wine.

Salal (Gaultheria shallon)

Salal is an evergreen, understory shrub found in coastal forests from British Columbia to southern California. It is identified by its shiny, dark green leaves and its purple-to-black, berry-like fruits. Lewis and Clark wrote about salal in their journals, a plant they first encountered on the Oregon Coast near Astoria in 1806. Long before these explorers discovered salal, however, Native Americans used this plant in a variety of ways, including as a medicine, food, dye and utensil. Wildlife including bears, deer, elk and beavers also enjoy salal.

Salal continues to be a good food source for humans today. The berries are loaded with vitamins and antioxidants that prevent degeneration. Berries can be eaten fresh, added to smoothies, pies, jam and fruit leather. They are ripe during late summer – usually August and September. Keep an eye out for this plant next time you explore Oregon’s forests.