50 Natives: Oregon Vaccinium membranaceum - Huckleberry | PITH + VIGOR

Rochelle Greayer

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3/20/2009

50 Natives: Oregon Vaccinium membranaceum – Huckleberry

Huckleberry Finn, Huckleberry Hound, Huckleberry Pie (Strawberry Shortcake’s best friend)…. I am wondering if, even though these broadly known characters are all named for the same fruit, do most people really know about the Huckleberry? Really it is a fruit…and for those of you who do not live in the Northwest US or western Canada, I suspect you might not know that it is one of the best tasting fruits in existence. But I have never seen a Huckleberry in the grocery? I wonder why? Have you?

huckleberry mosaic - finn hound, and pie

1. Books – The Adventures Of Huckleberry Finn – Lantern, 2. 1961 Huckleberry Hound Ed-U-Cards Game, 3. Clafoutis Myrtilles & Charlotte aux Fraises amoureux

My family lived in Pendleton, Oregon briefly when I was in preschool…all I really remember is playing on my swing set (you know the metal triangle type that would go over you if you swung to high) and picking huckleberries. So when Hilary responded to our book giveaway saying that her favorite native was the Huckleberry, I immediately decided it would be my native pick for Oregon.

huckleberry flowers berries native plant vaccinium
1. huckleberries, 2. Huckleberry Flowers in A bunch, 3. huckleberries, 4. huckleberries, 5. blue is for huckleberries, 6. Vaccinium membranaceum

Huckleberries comprise a few varieties of vaccinium, and some people call what I would refer to as a blueberry a huckleberry, but to me the real huckleberries are the dark black-red varieties that grow wild on lower Pacific Northwest slopes.
To me, they are a charming symbol of the region. I love too, all the phrases that use the word huckleberry to refer affectionately to something small…Like “a huckleberry over my persimmon” meaning something is a bit beyond your abilities or my all time favorite (from one of my fav. movies) -Tombstone – Val Kilmer saying “I’m your huckleberry” – meaning I’m the right person for the job. I love that line!
The more I think about it, I am glad I don’t see them in the grocery. It’s a good reason visit.

p.s. did you also know that The Huckleberry Railroad was a heritage train located in Flint, Michigan (there are also lots of huckleberries around the great lakes). It ran so slowly that it was said a person could jump off the train, pick huckleberries and jump back on the train with minimum effort.

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  1. Hilary says:

    We do have a couple of grocery stores here in Spokane that carry Huckleberries, frozen, during season, and for a hefty price. This past summer/fall they were not to be found in stores due to a shortage of supply apparently. Locally prices of anything “huckleberry” were raised as well. Since they can’t be “captively” grown those who go picking/hunting huckleberries keep their locations closely garded, and very secret. Some day we hope to find some, no luck so far. Here’s to another season. PS. I’m glad that my comment sparked some good memories, and a favorite for you as well.

  2. Ann says:

    desperately looking for this exact plant in plant or seed form to buy.

    Have unfortunately purchased eight diff.kind from seed catalogs and they all suck, are not the guaranteed Idaho huckleberry I love and miss so much.

  3. Trish says:

    Try seed savers exchange for huckleberry seeds. They have 50 seeds for $2.75. Don’t know if that is one of the ones you have tried or not.

  4. Cory says:

    Actually i believe the blue-ish looking ones (Bottom three) are not hucks. Their the ones you don’t wanna eat.. that first and third picture is heaven though. =D!!!!

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