31 May 2012

In Praise of Salmonberries

The Salmonberry bushes at the edge of the DNR are already bearing fruit. These are the first to flower at the end of the winter, and the first to produce berries in the spring. If, like the First Nations coming to the bog to collect plants and berries in the days before refrigeration and supermarkets, you had spent the winter living on dried and smoked food, you might be very pleased to see these red and orange jewels nestling in the fresh green foliage. Even the young green shoots were eaten like salad.

There are different reasons given for the Salmonberry's name. Some say that it is because of the colour of the berries. They certainly do vary from red to salmon-coloured to orange. Another is that they were often eaten with salmon or salmon roe.

The berries appear when the Swainson's Thrush can be heard, and so the Swainson's Thrush is often called the Salmonberry Bird.

But the berries are good to eat. If you don't find sweet enough fruit on one bush, go to the next. They can vary in flavour, but are well worth the trouble.

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