Wild Blueberries

Bog blueberry, Vaccinum uliginosum. Photo by Scott Byram, North Spit of Coos Bay.

Native words for bog blueberries:

Tillamook:   slílíq’ɫan

Alsea:    qon

Hanis & Milluk Coos: q’ani

Along Oregon’s coast, there are several species in the ‘huckleberry’ genus of Vaccinum.  The two most prominent along the coast are the evergreen huckleberry and the red huckleberry.  Bog blueberries (Vaccinum uliginosum) aren’t as noticeable – unlike the other two huckleberries, bog blueberries are ground huggers, growing into short bushes.  As implied in their name, they tend to be found near damp ground along the coast.  At Coos Bay, there are several patches scattered throughout the North Spit.

Among Coos Bay people, bog blueberries were not as favored as as the huckleberries.  They thought they did not taste as good.  They ate some bog blueberries when in season, but unlike evergreen huckleberries, they were not dried or pressed into fruit cakes with other berries.

Tillamook and Alsea people also preserved evergreen huckleberries, but I have found no mention of doing the same with bog blueberries – perhaps they regarded them similarly to Coos Bay people.

Bog blueberries are generally ripe in August and September, and they taste all right.  However, unlike huckleberry picking, you will need to bend over to get them, risking an achy back.  Still, when hiking along the coast at that time of year, they can make a nice snack.

Sources:

Frachtenberg, Leo.  1920.  Alsea Texts. BAE, Washington DC.

Harrington, JP.  1942.  Tillamook notes.  Microfilm reel 20:93b.

Jacobs, Melville. 1931.  Coos notes.  Notebook 91:36.  University of Washington.

About shichils

Just sharing some fun on language
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