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20 responses to “Berries of the Sierra Nevada”

  1. rebecca

    Oh amazing. I’ve never seen a thimbleberry in SoCal. Went to pick some hollyleaf cherries a few days ago but they’re inedibly bitter. And looks like the birds got to the currants and gooseberries before me *tears*.

    Fantastic post, thank you.

  2. Victor

    The list of stuff I want to do now keeps growing, but the time I have to do them gets shorter. More things to go wander around and try to find. Can you also give us more time with your posts more things to do Hank? 🙂 Do you ever have room on your excursions for green peas who want to learn?

  3. lanesvillelady

    Hey Holly – super photos! Love the photography in this blog!
    Hank, those Thimbleberries look delicious and I would have done what you did – just sit and eat them one by one with my eyes closed relishing each bite!

  4. Ann

    I’m headed to the high country this Friday for a week and am looking forward to doing a little grazing while I’m up there. Glad to hear there are berries this year. Nothing last year.

    Beautiful photography Holly.

    Great blog Hank.

  5. Blkdoglady

    Great info. Quick tip – pick the gooseberries with a metal fork. Headed to Sierra’s this weekend and gooseberries are on top of my list, along with the elderberries. Did you find any chokecherries?, they too make a great jam or jelly but require sweetner. Friend made chokecherry wine years ago that was wonderful.

  6. Holly Heyser

    Thanks, Lanesville Lady! I really enjoyed shooting all the berries from Hank’s outings. They all have such beautiful colors and textures. And flavors too!

  7. Jen


    I remember eat thimbleberries as a child (They grow wildly and randomly in my home twon), but I’ve never seen currants or gosseberries in south-western BC. I can’t wait to see what you do with huckleberries though – we always stuck to pancakes.

    Out of curiousity, do salmon berries or salal grow as far south as you are?

  8. Joshua

    Yeah, the thimbleberries were awesome. And the even better news, I found another spot with many many, many plants! My friend suggested picking them straight into a plastic baggy, then snipping off the tip at the bottom when it’s time to make something out of them.

  9. Victor

    Thats great thank you. If you are down here at some point let me know, we can go get a drink or something and bs.

  10. Kiva Rose

    Oooh, nice post, and those are some very lovely pictures too.

    I notice that the taste of Gooseberries seems to vary quite a bit from from species to species. Around here, I far prefer the the spineless (on the berry at at least, and yes, it’s still a Gooseberry) Ribes leptanthum, both for ease of harvest and quality of taste. They’re far less insipid that the other species of Gooseberries (and our rather blah Wax Currant). Thankfully, they happen to be very common just up the nearest arroyo.

    We have Thimbleberry abundantly here in the Gila but unfortunately they rarely seem to produce fruit. I see plenty of flowers, but never even any unripe fruit.

    Another wild mountain berry I’m fond of, although its taste might be outside the range of many people’s palates, is Aralia racemosa. They’re traditional in jellies and jams, but seem to have mostly fallen out of favor as far as I know. I love them….not very sweet but flavorful and complex.

    And damn, I think I missed the Manzanita berries yet again…

  11. Bpaul

    I spent two summers as a fire lookout in the Mt. Hood national forest. I ate gallons and gallons of wild berries every summer. From my experience, you simply can’t beat a thimbleberry for taste. They’re just head and shoulders above every other wild berry I had. To me, they taste like the best raspberries you’ve ever had plus a little cream — somehow.

    I agree completely with your sentiment — just eat em. Don’t mess with perfection.

    Beautiful pictures, btw.

    A huge Oregonian fan,


  12. Nathan

    Cool stuff Hank. There are red currants in the sierra as well. A friend made pie and ended up sick. Best he could figure out was alkali poisoning from the seeds. They’re supposed to be edible, but perhaps in moderate doses.

  13. jennifer

    I had no idea plants like this existed in the Sierra Nevadas. I grew up in Bishop and spent a lot of time around Mammoth Lakes and Lee Vining, but the only edible plants I saw were bitterbrush (super bitter) and pine nuts. Do the berries only grow in certain parts of the mountains? Eek, I think I missed out.

  14. Restaurant Supply Dude

    Love the post, but loved Holly’s photos even more. Beautiful! Especially loved the shot with all of the berries on the plate.

  15. Ryan

    I found a large handful of thimble berries in the Sierras outside of Fresno today. Put the whole handful in my mouth at once- what an explosion of flavor. You’ve gotta try it!

  16. George Parker

    In the’30s I worked summers in a logging camp east of Pino Grande (east of Auburn) in the Sierra. I spent lots of spare time picking gooseberries, garefully picking them with thumb and forefinger of each hand, folding the spines back, pricking the fruit with a thumb nail, and squeezing it into my mouth. DELICIOUS. Then the Government created crews to grub out the berries. White Pine Blister Rust (cronartium ribicola)
    travels from the current plant to the white pine and kills it. So, no more gooseberries.

  17. Shawn

    Truly brilliant berry porn!
    I love eating thimbleberries, and the northwestern version of gooseberries.
    Your post was an inspiration.

  18. Gary Truesdail

    Salmonberries grow on California Coastal shady areas that get occasional moisture from fog, north of San Francisco. Large beautiful salmon-colored berries but with very little flavor.

  19. Timothy

    I discover goose berries in the Sierra years ago…, there’s a method of bending the spines in one direction while squeezing the fruit and the inner pulp just pops into your mouth….mmmm….delicious….

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