Here in New Hampshire, you can find blueberries growing wild on mountainsides, in clearings and on granite boulders, in lowbush and highbush varieties.
“They tend to be in some beautiful places,” Beaver Brook Association’s Education and Community Affairs Director Celeste Philbrick Barr said. “They are very common, but they’re sort of habitat specific.”
Blueberries require sunshine, which is why they are commonly found growing wild on mountaintops or forest clearings. Blueberry bushes also require soil of 4.5 to 5 pH to grow. Rainwater on granite causes more acidic soil, which is why New Hampshire’s mountainous areas are covered in blueberry bushes.
“Their roots are very minimal so they don’t grow deep. They can grow on the big rocks on Pack Monadnock,” Philbrick Barr said. “The most common people will find are the two lowbush varieties in New Hampshire. … I have found wild highbush species too on north Pack Monadnock, and that was a treat to not have to get down on the ground.”
Lowbush blueberries grow close to the ground, and highbush blueberries can be up to 10 feet high. Cultivated blueberries, like the kind that grow in the pick-your-own patch, are usually right in the middle.
The blueberry season runs mid-July through August. While you can pick a whole lot of blueberries at farms across the state, you can also try foraging for blueberries on a nature hike.
“It’s really good to identify the whole plant. Get familiar with those because there are a lot of things that grow blue-colored berries out there,” Philbrick Barr said. “Just because it’s blue, you shouldn’t just pop it in your mouth.”
Foraging for edible plants has grown pretty popular, Philbrick Barr said. When it comes to foraging for any wild edible, she recommends tagging along with a knowledgeable source.
“I think most people do better when they go with someone who does foraging, whether it’s blueberries or mushrooms or wild greens,” she said. “I’ve definitely noticed an uptick in the last 10 years in [foraging]. … It’s a great primitive skill to learn and find where they are.”
Before you pick any wild blueberries, check to make sure the trail, mountain, park or property allows picking.
As seen in the July 17, 2014 issue of the Hippo.