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Close-Up of Harvested Blueberries


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 berry picker.

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 w/permission

    Berry Picking in the Boundary Waters

    Blueberry Recipes