Evergreen Huckleberry - Vaccinium ovatum

Why Get to know this plant:

Delicious berries to gather in late summer and fall. This plant is abundant in areas of the west coast of Vancouver island, particularly around Tofino and Ucluelet.

 

Where This Plant grows:

Grows in gravelly or sandy type soils in coniferous forest such as around the Pacific Rim National Park on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.

 

How to Identify:

Thick, bushy, evergreen shrub, Evergreen huckleberry grows 1-2 meters tall.  Branches are greenish when young but brown with age. Leaves are leathery, oval, pointed and grow closely together in a crowded, angled appearance. Small flowers in the spring and early summer are white to pink and grow in tight clusters. The late ripening berries are small, black and shiny, or occasionally dusty blue. They taste sweet and slightly dry.

 

Parts Used:

Berries ripen at the latter half of summer and into the fall and can be found in some places until December. The berries can be gathered and eaten fresh, dehydrated or dried for use through the winter.

 

Caution: 

Just a reminder when harvesting berries that they are collected higher up on bush to avoid dog markings and away from roadways so that they have not be exposed to exhaust. The berry is quite distinct and doesn’t have any real look a likes to worry about.

 

 

 

 

Close up of the bell shaped flowers.

Close up of the bell shaped flowers.

Constituents in the plant:

Nutritional Value of the berries:

Huckleberry fruits are sweet and contain high concentrations of both mono- and di- saccharides. Berries are rich in vitamin C and energy content but low in fats. Berries of evergreen huckleberries contain 24.5 % water, 2,658 kcal per kg (hard to harvest a whole kg) and 3.85 mg of ascorbic acid per gram (Vitamin C). Per gram the fresh berries also contain 1.56 g of Calcium, and 0.59 g of Magnesium per gram.

 

Nutritional Value of the leaves:

Foliage is relatively high in carotene, manganese and energy.

 

References:

http://www.wildfire.org/feis/plants/shrub/vacova/all_frames.html

Turner, Nancy (1995) Food Plants of Coastal First Peoples. Royal BC Museum Handbook. Frisens. Canada. p. 85

MacKinnon et al. (2009) Edible and Medicinal Plants of Canada. Lone Pine Publishing. Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. p. 113

Pojar & Mackinnon (1994) Plants of Coastal British Columbia: including Washington, Oregon & Alaska. Lone Pine Publishing. p.59