Category Archives: Sources of Information

Ode to pollinators

If you’re a gardener, berry lover, or if you eat food, it wouldn’t hurt to spend a little more time appreciating our pollinators. One of my favorite authors, Rowan Jacobsen, wrote an enlightening book on the topic of pollination–Fruitless Fall (see below), in particular, on colony collapse disorder in honeybees. It’s frightening to think about the fragility of our current system of pollination. Luckily, wild berries in Alaska do not depend on managed hives for pollination. On my reading list since I read Fruitless Fall is  Forgotten pollinators. We should probably all spend a little more time appreciating these flying wonders. I enjoyed watching the beautiful video of buzz pollination(see below)  And while we’re on the topic, check out the Xerces society. They have a plethora of great resources on protecting and appreciating our sometimes forgotten and under-appreciated invertebrates. HR Fairbanks
Buchman, S. L. 1997. Forgotten pollinators. Island Press.
Karl Foord. 2014. Buzz Pollination.
Jacobsen, R. 2010. Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis. Bloomsbury, USA.
Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation (Home Page). 2016. Available at: 14 Sept, 2016.

Fairbanks Facebook Link

One place that has been helpful for tips about the best places to pick in the Interior has been the “Fairbanks, Alaska” public group on Facebook. This summer, folks were posting updates about when blueberries were ripe on Nordale, which picking spots were closed due to wildfire, etc. Here is a bookmark, although you do have to be logged in to Facebook to see the group posts:Fairbanks Facebook Link

Berry Folklore

In addition to the science, there are also cultural aspects to berries that are worth noting. Some berry folklore for you, compiled by Cornell University: Berry Folklore

Berry Guide

I wanted to share one of my favorite berry guides. It’s a small book that you can slip in your pocket while you berry pick and has great full-color pictures of both flowers and berries on each berry plant. They also categorize berries according to color and if they are poisonous. Really handy.Berry Guide Berry guide2

Some Good Alaska Sites

Facebook is a great place to connect with other Alaska berry hunters/foragers. Here are three Alaskan groups with lots of information and members to share knowledge with:

Alaska berry pickers: Alaska Berry Pickers

Alaska edible and medicinal plants: Alaska Edibles and Medicinals

Alaska wildcrafting and foraging: http://Alaska Wildcrafting and Foraging


Medicinal Plants

Although not strictly a “berry book”, Medicinal Flora of the Alaska Natives by Ann Garibaldi is an excellent resource to learn about traditional uses of local plants. While we all may know of many ways to utilize the fruits themselves, this book gives information about how other parts of the plant are used as well. For example, the Dena’ina people prepared a tea of crowberry (Empetrum nigrum) leaves for stomach ailments, and while we often think of pumpkin berries (Geocaulon lividum) as inedible the leaves have been used by the Dena’ina people as a poultice.

The book is out of print, but is available for free online as a PDF from the Alaska Natural Heritage Program.

Good Books about Berries

Here are a few of my favorite books which include lots of great information on berries in Alaska. Anyone interested in collecting berries in Alaska should add these books to their personal library.

This book identifies most of the edible, non-edible and poisonous plants in Alaska. The big plus with this books are all the recipes provided.

Editors of ALASKA® magazine. 1984. Alaska wild berry guide and cookbook. Alaska Northwest Publishing Company. Alaska.

I’m still reading and exploring this book. Lots of information on medicinal uses and how to harvest and prepare your goodies.

Gray, B. 2011. The boreal herbal. Wild food and Medicine plants of the North. Aroma Borealis Press. Yukon.

This was one of my first Alaskan plant reference books. It was written by one of the pioneers of Alaskan edibles and should be in everyone’s library.

Heller, C.A. 1993. Wild edible and poisonous plants of Alaska. University of Alaska Fairbanks, Alaska.

Verna has explored many areas of Alaska documenting and with her husband, Frank, photographing much of it as well. Her book fits well into a hip pocket and should accompany anyone foraging for Alaskan berries.

Pratt, V.E. 2001/ Alaska’s wild berries and berry-like fruit. Dai Nippon Printing Co. Ltd, Hong Kong.

This book is a brief compilation of Janice’s larger book and is also a great one to take out while harvesting.

Schofield, J. J. 1999. Alaska’s wild plants. A guide to Alaska’s edible harvest. Alaska Northwest Books. Oregon.

This is a must have book. Janice has thoroughly explored each plant within the book’s covers. She provides great anecdotal information which brings to life each and every plant.

Schofield, J.J. 2014. Discovering wild plants. Alaska, Western Canada, the Northwest. Eaton, New Zealand.