When to Harvest California Huckleberry

Overview

Found in California, Washington, Oregon and British Columbia, the California huckleberry grows along dry canyon slopes and in the clearings of evergreen forests. Also known as the evergreen huckleberry, or evergreen blueberry, the California berry resembles a small, dark blueberry. While the berries don't get much bigger than a quarter of an inch wide, the bushes can be up to 6 feet tall, making the California huckleberry harvest a challenge for humans and ideal for birds. Follow the seasons as they change to know when to harvest California huckleberry.

Step 1

Head outside to look for the pink blooms of the huckleberries around March to May. Take notes during this time and mark down where you saw the bushes growing and blooming for future trips on your map.

Step 2

Notice over the weeks as the flowers are slowly replaced by small green colored berries. While not every bush will produce berries, again mark where you are seeing the most success for the bushes. If an area experienced fire the previous year, don't expect to return to it for harvest.

Step 3

Look for ripened berries in mid- to late summer. Glossy and black or purple, the small huckleberries will be in large groupings on the ends of branches. They should pull from the branches easily with little resistance.

Step 4

Make a note on your map or separate sheet of paper the dates you harvested berries, the location and the quantity you were able to pick. In future years, as you continue to harvest, look for patterns in your information to help you avoid unsuccessful spots and stick to areas and dates with greater harvests.

Tips and Warnings

  • Be sure to be cautious and alert for bears when harvesting in the wild. Making noise while you harvest can be a good way to ensure you don't sneak up on one by mistake. If they can hear you coming, they will be more likely to avoid you before you even see it.

Things You'll Need

  • Regional map
  • Pen
  • Bucket with a lid

References

  • A Social History of Wild Huckleberry Harvesting in the Pacific Northwest; Rebecca T. Richards and Susan J. Alexander; 2006
  • Native Plant Database
Keywords: California huckleberry, harvesting huckleberry, when to harvest huckleberry

About this Author

Writing from Virginia, Margaret Telsch-Williams specializes in personal finance, money management, gardening, crafts and sewing, cooking, DIY projects and travel. When not writing instructional articles online, she works for the website Widescreen Warrior as a contributor and podcast co-host discussing all things film and entertainment. She holds a Bachelor of Science in biology and a master's degree in writing.