One of the most important aspects of navigating through the wilderness is understanding what makes a good food source and what doesn’t. Berries can typically be found in most forests that you stumble upon, and when doing so, there’s a good chance you’ll run across berries that look like blueberries.
We all know and love blueberries, combing a great taste with a load of antioxidants that are so helpful to have when trying to survive. Finding blueberries in the wild is great, but it’s important to stay on top of your wild berry identification skills to make sure you’re absolutely positive about what you’re putting into your body.
Do you know a blueberry lookalike form a true berry? Do you know how to properly identify a blueberry that you find out in the woods?
Today, we’re going to be talking and learning about everything there is to know about blueberries. There’s a surprising amount of ground for us to cover, so without further ado, let’s get right to it!
What do wild blueberries look like?
In the wilderness, blueberries grow on blueberry bushes. You’ll typically find them growing between mid and late summer, and when going about your travels, you’ll most likely stumble across them in an abandoned field.
All blueberries that grow in the wild are round with a bluish black color. Along with this, blueberries are also clearly identifiable thanks to the five-pointed crown that rests on the very top of the berry. This is visible right away, and it’s one of the easiest ways to tell a blueberry apart from something else.
As for the blueberry bushes themselves, these usually feature very thin branches with flowers that can range in color from either a stark white to a very light pink. These flowers are also accompanied by leaves, often found with a bright green color and broad shape.
The leaves on a blueberry bush also come with a point at the end that’s very well defined, and when fall rolls around, they change to a deep red color.
Something else that’s worth pointing out is that wild blueberries will often have a smaller shape than berries that have been cultivated by a farmer. Wild berries will usually measure in at around 1/4-inch for their diameter, and inside of them, you’ll find seeds that are very small and soft to the touch.
Understanding the different types of blueberry species
Believe it or not, blueberries don’t exist in one single species. In fact, there are two main types of blueberries that you’ll find growing throughout all of North America!
The two species include lowbush and sour top berries, and we’ll be talking about the latter first.
Sour top blueberries are known by their larger shrub for the bush they grown on, with this growing to be as tall as 6 to 24-inches. Compare this to the lowbush blueberry that only grows at around 3 to 15-inches in height, and you’ve got a pretty big difference between the two.
However, difference in shrubbery aside, both lowbush and sour top blueberry bushes produce a berry with the same blue color that’s instantly recognizable. Sour top bushes will usually produce a berry with a coat that’s a bit on the waxy side, whereas lowbush berries are more powdery.
And, as you could probably already guess from the name, sour top blueberries favor a more tart flavor that’s noticeably less sweet than what you’ll get from a lowbush berry.
Staying away from blueberry imitators
As easy-to-identify as blueberries usually are, it can still be easy to get them mixed up with poisonous fruits if you don’t know exactly what you’re looking for. The above information should already make you pretty confident with your berry identification skills, but just to make sure we’re all on the same page, here are some berries that look like blueberries that you’ll definitely want to stay away from if you ever run across them in the wild.
Pokeberries grow on the pokeweed plant, and at first glance, they can look awfully tasty and a lot like a blueberry without careful inspection. However, it’s important to not let the good looks fool you into thinking that this is a tasty treat.
Birds, deer, and plenty of other animals chow down on pokeberries all the time, and they can do so without worry. Why? Pokeberries are meant to be eaten by animals and not humans.
Just a handful of pokeberries could easy kill a small child, and eating enough could even cause an adult to expire.
To identify a pokeberry, look for the clusters that they grow in not unlike what you’d see with grapes. The color is more purple-black than blue-black on blueberries, and they grow on stalks that have a purple and pink color to them.
Another berry that can be very easy to mistake for a blueberry is the nightshade. This is a very small berry with a mostly black color, but at first glance, you might take it for a fruity and delicious snack.
There are quite a few different species of nightshade that grow throughout the United States, but only a handful of them contain ingredients that make them toxic and dangerous to humans.
Nightshades don’t have the iconic five-point crown on the top of them, and this is the easiest way to tell them apart from a blueberry. Furthermore, if you go to snack on a berry and it tastes woody or unsweet, that means you’re probably munching on a nightshade rather than an actual blueberry.
Filling your body with blueberries is a great way to fuel your body with the energy and antioxidants it needs to survive in a survival situation, and while finding these out in the wild is great, it’s important to be extra sure that you know what to look for. Take some notes, commit this info to memory, and go in the woods with confidence about being able to identify a real blueberry from a sneaky imposter.