Thursday, July 17, 2008

Blackberries and blueberries in the Great Smoky Mountains national park

The summer days are long and the weather is awesome here in the Smoky Mountains and right now throughput the Great Smoky Mountains national park ripe blueberries and blackberries can be found in the lower elevations and they are working their way up.

Visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains national park are allowed to pick fruits and berries for their own personal consumption. You are not allowed to pick plants, or harvest Smoky Mountains delicacies such as ramps or Ginseng as picking these plants is not only illegal it reduces its already precarious population within the park.

Black berries should be picked when all dark and slightly soft for the best flavor. Blackberries has varying degrees of thorns so be careful picking berries and please only take what you will immediately consume and don't damage or cut the plant.

Blackberries and blueberries in the Great Smoky Mountains national park

Since the berries are ripening, be careful that bear who also loves these summer treats are not close by and that if you are walking into tall grass or weeds you don't steep on either a copperhead or rattlesnake which can be hiding in the undergrowth.

If you did go into brush make sure that you check yourself for ticks as ticks are in season on the Smoky Mountains.


Anonymous said...

This is unbelievable. What's up with picking wild berries in a state or national park? The burgeoning human population is increasing encroaching on wildlife habitats - don't the animals have it bad enough without humans now raiding their food supply? When wildlife such as bears and coyotes come in to human habitation in search of food because there isn't much food to be found in the "wild," they're killed. Good God! - Buy your berries at the local supermarket and give the animals a break.

Smokies Hiker said...

Interesting comment. If there is a very light mast crop on a given year I think you have a very valid point.

You can’t imagine how thrilled “city” people are when I show them a bush or cane that they can pull a berry of and pop it in their moth. Often this is the first time they have eaten any fresh food or actually seen in person where it came from.

I can say that nowhere in the Great Smoky Mountains national park I have found that there were no blackberries, blueberries and huckleberries left in any given area – even those heavily frequently by humans and wildlife. I can say the limited places where raspberries can be found often there are no RIPE berries left.

There are a few heritage apple trees left in the park and they are often completely cleaned out by the bear. I have never seen a human eat an apple in the park even though some of them are actually quite good. Apples have a much better shelf life on a tree and on the ground that a berry on a bush.

Your point is very well taken in a park that is unable to sustain its animal population because of poor food quality or if a small crop is overrun by a herd of greedy people.
I personally appreciate the far more healthy and environmental aspect of being able to eat replenishable food from the wild. This does not include “crops” such as ramps and ginseng which are being poached in our parks and are in danger of disappearing in the wild.

Remember though eating berries is allowed, this does not mean you can take any more than you can reasonable consume in a given sitting.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous (1st post) is a moron... for the berries that hikers see, there are thousands of acres of berries the humans don't see and don't have access to. I live in N. Idaho near Canada ands we have wild huckleberries here. The harvest taken by humans is less than 1% of what grows wild for bears to eat. Besides, the berries are good for people too. So, what we are not supposed to eat animal flesh, and we can't eat what grows naturally? Enough of this stupidity - we are part of this system to . Grow up!

Anonymous said...

Ignorance is bliss. Most people visiting the park dont get their fat asses out of the car! I'm pretty sure the animals will be just fine with people picking a small overall percentage of berries. Take a chill-pill!
Wildlife biologist

Paul Guba said...

My experience has been quite the opposite. The city person thinks all berries are poison and won't pick them. Countless times I have picked raspberries, blueberries, blackberries in the wild. When some city dweller comes by and I offer berries from the wild they refuse saying they think it will make them sick or die. They would much rather go to Whole Foods and shell out $10 for a half pint of organic farm grown berries. It seems crazy but I have found it to be true. I live near several large parks and as a local I feel I have as much right to fruit as the critters that raid my garden.