Numerous wild berries can be found in summer and fall around Washington state. Here are more varieties to look for.
Read about wild berries in the Pacific Northwest.
Black chokeberries (Aronia melanocarpa)—A great natural source of pectin, these tart, dark berries are perfect for processing into jam and jelly.
Black hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii)—These tart reddish purple berries—best in jam, jelly, sauce, and vinegar—are prevalent west of the Cascade Range in damp clearings and thicket margins.
Black huckleberries (Vaccinium membranaceum)—These are among the tastiest and most popular berries in the Pacific Northwest.
Blackcap raspberries (Rubus leucodermis)—Unlike blackberries, these berries have a hollow middle, like a regular red raspberry. They start out red, then darken to a deep purple, resembling blackberries.
Blue elderberries (Sambucus nigra ssp. caerulea)—These blue-black berries are best fresh and fully ripe. The first hard frost tends to make them softer and sweeter. Many Pacific Northwest indigenous peoples consumed elderberries, lining pots with bark for storage. On the Olympic Peninsula, the Makah submerged alder-bark cones containing elderberry clusters in cold creeks to keep them fresh.
Bog cranberries (Vaccinium oxycoccus)—Find these relatively rare, pinkish red berries creeping through sphagnum moss.
Bog huckleberries (Vaccinium uglinosum)—These bright blue sweet berries grow especially well along the edges of mountain lakes.
Bunchberries (Cornus canadensis)—These bright red, but a bit mealy, berries grow in clusters at ankle-height on moist forest floors rich in organic matter.
Chokecherries (Prunus virginiana)—Red to deep purplish black, these astringent berries, another traditional staple of Native peoples, are best mixed with other berries or sweetened with sugar to make fruit leather or jelly.
Coastal black currant (Ribes divaricatum)—Also called coastal black gooseberry or spreading gooseberry, these tart and tangy purple berries grow in shady thickets and damp forests near the coast.
High-bush cranberry (Vibernum edule)—These tangy red berries are common near shorelines and become a bit sweeter after the first frost. They’re best in jam, jelly, and compote.
Lingonberries (Vaccinium vitis-idaea)—Bright-red lingonberries, also called low-brush or mountain cranberries and cowberries, are similar to bog cranberries and relatively uncommon.
Mountain ash (Sorbus scopulina, Sorbus sitchensis)—Western mountain ash, or rowan and Sitka mountain ash, produce tart, reddish orange berries—high in vitamin C and popular with birds—in big clusters. They’re best enjoyed mixed with other fruits in jam and jelly.
Oval-leafed blueberries (Vaccinium ovalifolium)—Also called oval-leafed bilberries, these big wild blueberries look and taste a lot like their commercially cultivated kin.
Prickly currant (Ribes lacustre)—Look for this tart, thorny, water-loving shrub near bogs, lakes, and streams. Also called black gooseberry, black swamp gooseberry, swamp currant, and prickly gooseberry, its fruit is best enjoyed cooked.
Red currant (Ribes triste)—These brilliant, jewel-toned berries add a cranberry-esque flavor to jam, jelly, and pie.
Red flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum)—These dark purple berries might be best left for the birds. While edible, they don’t taste great.
Serviceberries (Amelanchier alnifolia)—Also known as Saskatoon berries, western juneberries, and—historically—pigeon berries, these small, purplish blue berries enjoy a nutrient profile similar to blueberries.
Soapberries (Shepherdia canadensis)—These super-sour berries, also called buffalo berries and Indian ice cream berries, were traditionally whipped into a froth by Native peoples. The bright red berries feel sort of soapy to the touch. The chemical compounds that make these berries foam up are irritating or toxic in large concentrations.
Sticky gooseberries (Ribes lobbii)—Dark purplish red, pungent, and gummy in texture, these uniquely flavored berries are best enjoyed cooked and mixed with other berries.
Stink currant (Ribes bracteosum)—Don’t let the skunky smell of fresh stink currants discourage you from enjoying these blue-gray berries, best consumed in jam, jelly, pie, syrups, or other sweets.
Trailing raspberries (Rubus pedatus)—Also called creeping raspberries, strawberry-leafed raspberries, and five-leaved brambles, these sweet wild raspberries are highly prized. They’re great fresh or cooked, and their leaves can also be gathered for teas.
Western and common juniper (Juniperus occidentalis, Juniperus communis)—These widespread blue-black berries are typically used to flavor gin and liqueur. Exercise caution; the berries of many junipers are toxic or mildly so.
Wild lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum dilatatum)—Wild or false lily-of-the-valley is an abundant ground cover on the moist forest floors west of the Cascade Range. In spring, its green berries, though hard, mealy, and fairly tasteless, can be eaten raw. Through autumn, they transform into translucent red orbs. Most spit out their hard seeds, which helps propagate more plants.
Wild strawberries (Fragaria chiloensis, Fragaria vesca, Fragaria virginiana)—Beach or coastal strawberries, tall strawberries, and blue-leafed strawberries are typically smaller, softer, and sweeter than commercial varieties. They’re best enjoyed fresh, but can also be dried or added to baked goods.