Berry good

There are all kinds of berries that grow wild in the forest. Some of them are really tasty, like strawberries, raspberries and huckleberries. Those are my favorites.

Others aren’t quite as delicious eaten raw, but can be cooked to make jams, jellies and syrups. These include currants and grouseberries.

You should never eat berries without your parents first identifying them to make sure they are safe. Some berries may look tasty but shouldn’t be eaten raw.

Eating too many berries at once, even the good ones, can also make you sick. So if you find a patch of strawberries, go easy on them, even though they are small compared to the strawberries you would find in a store.

Many berries are a good source of vitamin C, the same vitamin that’s found in oranges and other fruits. The leaves of some plants have also been used to make medicines or tea to help with sickness.

Berries are often found in wet areas, like close to streams or marshes. Those wet, bushy places with fruit can also attract other animals, including bears, so make sure you are safe about wading in to a big berry patch. Make a lot of noise to scare any bears away and never hike alone.

Berries are a great way for a plant to spread its seeds. The seeds, like those found in raspberries, are very small. When a bird or bear eats a berry, it may be a day or so before it goes to the bathroom. When the animal does poop, it may contain berry seeds. That will allow some of those seeds to start in a new place.

If you can't find berries when you are hiking down low, try climbing a trail that goes higher. The higher you go the cooler it will be and the later the berries will have matured. And then, even if you don't find berries, you've at least had a beautiful hike.

— Brett French, Billings Gazette

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