Do You Know: What Are Huckleberries? And Where Do Huckleberries Grow?

Deepthi Reddy
Mar 06, 2023 By Deepthi Reddy
Originally Published on Oct 27, 2021
Fact-checked by Amatullah Gulbargawala
Difference between blueberries and huckleberries.
Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.8 Min

Huckleberries are more petite than blueberries and are sweeter than cranberries.

Huckleberries are shrub-like plants that grow under bushes in forests, generally found in pine and fir tree-dominated areas in the Pacific Northwest forest regions. Did you know that there are around 12 species of huckleberries?

Interestingly, you can eat huckleberries raw and fresh. The huckleberry is somewhat similar to the blueberry. However, huckleberries are small and round, and their color ranges from red to blue.

So, what is the taste of the huckleberry? Well, it depends on the color.

The huckleberry has a mild flavor that is similar to that of blueberry. The dark purple, blue, and black colored huckleberry is on the sweeter side, while the red huckleberry tends to be on the sour side. The best time to pick huckleberries is in mid-July, August, and even into September.

According to myth, when the American colonists first saw the indigenous American berries, they thought of the European blueberry and named it hurtleberry. In 1670, the name hurtleberry was changed to huckleberry. The indigenous American tribes were known to use huckleberries as traditional medicine.

Today, the states which produce the most huckleberries include Montana, Idaho, and Oregon. This includes regions of the Pacific Northwest, northwestern national forests, and the Rocky Mountains. Since the huckleberries are indigenous to North and South America, they also grow abundantly on the East Coast.

Mainly, the huckleberry grows in the wild, however, some nurseries sell seedlings, but they take years to bear the fruit. You can try to germinate huckleberries in your yard, however, because they take so long to bear fruit, if any at all, it may end up being more of a headache than anything.

Did you know animals such as small mammals, deer, bears, and elk rely on huckleberry fruits? Bears are known to raid patches of huckleberries as an early morning or evening snack.

If you enjoyed this article, also read about where do kiwis grow? And where do morel mushrooms grow? Here on Kidadl.

What are huckleberries and where do they grow?

Huckleberries are small shrubs and they generally sprout under the bushes of the Subalpine tree forests. The huckleberries grow in different habitats like in higher altitudes, lower altitudes, in the sun, or part shade. However, there it is unknown where you will find the best huckleberries.

Native to North and South America, the huckleberries grow in the US, Canada, western Wyoming, Alaska, Oregon, Montana, and Idaho. They usually sprout well in high mountain elevations around 2000-11,000 ft (609.6-3,352.8 m) and grow well in acidic mountain soil.

Huckleberries are abundant in the Pacific Northwest region, northwestern national forests, the Rocky Mountains, Montana, and Idaho. Hiking in areas like Mt.

Hood, Umatilla, Bitterroot, Flathead, Salmon-Challis, Nez Perce-Clearwater, Gifford Pinchot, and Lolo National Forests, you will find huckleberries along the way. Check in with the local forest ranger station if you want to eat or collect this delicious mountain berry.

Now that we know what they are and where they grow, let’s learn where these berries sprout. Only four huckleberry species are native to the east and the southeast US, this regional species belongs to the genus Gaylussacia.

The western huckleberries, however, belong to the genus Vaccinium, which are the ones that sprout underbrush of the pine tree forests along the western coastal region of the United States.

The western huckleberries' flowers and fruits appear on high-bush and low-bush belong to the taxonomic section, myrtillus, and produce fruits on new shoots. The red huckleberries germinate in logs in moist coniferous woods, wetlands, and old decaying stumps.

Where do huckleberries grow in Washington?

The huckleberries wait eagerly for humans and bears in the sun clearing regions of the Northwest mountain forests, with some being sweet berries and others sour berries.

The common huckleberry is found to sprout in the eastern part of the US and Canada. They are also popularly known as the high-bush or black huckleberry. The box huckleberry is a native species to the eastern and central United States. The dwarf huckleberry, on the other hand, grows in Florida and Newfoundland. 

The red huckleberry is popularly known as the southern cranberry. It grows in Washington, southeast Alaska, coastal California, and Oregon.

The huckleberry grows best in the mountainous slopes of Northwest forests, including the Cascade mountain range and the Spokane Valley. But the central hub of huckleberries is Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Additionally, you will find huckleberries in the northwestern region of the US, western Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.

But do huckleberries grow in Washington? Yes, they thrive in abundance here.

There are around 12 species of huckleberry that are found to sprout here. The berries growing in this region are large in size, purple in color, and sweet. The huckleberries are ripe in late summer in mid-July, August, and September; these are the primary months to pick the ripe berries.

The seven regions in Washington where you can find huckleberries growing in abundance are Naches Peak Loop, Salmo-Priest Loop, Park Butte Lookout Trail, Little Huckleberry Trail, Kendall Katwalk Trail, Flapjacks Lakes Trail, and Yellow Aster Butte Trail.

Where do huckleberries grow in the wild?

Blue huckleberry bush hanging on the tree

So, where can you find this berry?

Like many other plants, growing on about 3.8 million miles of land in the United States, there are different huckleberry plants across specific regions. Western huckleberry is considered to be the true huckleberry. Although, it doesn't make eastern huckleberry, the black huckleberry and the box huckleberry any less delicious.

The leaves of huckleberry plants are hairy depending on the type of species. The small-shaped container of the flowers is carried away in small clusters. The fruit can be greenish, white, red, or pink and have ten tiny seeds inside.

Wild huckleberry plants easily sprout in mountainous areas, where the soil is more acidic, and generally under bushes and shrubs or in the shade of deciduous trees. You can find them at an elevation of 2,000-11,000 ft (609.6-3,352.8 m) above sea level in forested mountain slopes and near lake basins.

If you do want to pick fresh huckleberries, you can find them at Glacier National Park and Whitefish Mountain Resort.

The western huckleberry flowering season starts in April and goes into May. The season to pick and savor this delicious fruit is in the late summer season, around July, August, and September. Huckleberries make excellent summer pies!

Native to North and South America, these fruits were used by the Native Americans as food and medicine. The berries were formed into cakes, dried or smoked, and wrapped in the leaves by the Native Americans to survive the winter season. As an essential medicinal source, it was used to treat heart conditions, infections, and pain.

Wild huckleberries are rich in iron, vitamin C, potassium, and full of antioxidants. If you eat wild huckleberries, it can potentially build up the immune system, help you adjust to higher altitudes, and improve blood circulation.

Are huckleberries and blueberries the same thing?

On a stroll through the wild, you come across some berry plants, how do you know what kind of berry plant it is? Is there any difference between huckleberry and blueberry?

Huckleberry is like any other small fruit-bearing shrub belonging to the family Ericaceae and genus Gaylussacia. You can eat these berries raw and fresh. Huckleberries can be cultivated, but it requires acidic, moist, and well-drained soil with organic material.

Although the huckleberry and blueberry plants are somewhat related to each other, they have some differences. The huckleberry plants belong to two genera Vaccinium and Gaylussacia. In contrast, the blueberry plant belongs to the genus Vaccinium only. 

So, what are the best ways to differentiate the two berries? 

The huckleberry color ranges from red berries and purple berries to blue and black. The huckleberry tends to be on the sour side. Huckleberry has ten large, hard seeds, whereas the seeds of blueberries are tiny, and there are lots of seeds that are barely noticeable.

Within the western huckleberries and blueberries, it consists of five chambers. The huckleberry has single berries, and the leaves join the stem, growing new shoots.

In contrast, blueberries bear fruits in clusters that are big in size, crunch, and seedy. Also, huckleberries bear less fruit than blueberries. Huckleberries have an intense and rich flavor which makes them more desirable than blueberries.

Another important difference is that, unlike blueberries, huckleberries don’t do well being farm-grown. They do best when harvested traditionally from the wild. In other words, you cannot bring the seeds of huckleberry from the wild to market and immediately start growing.

Blueberries are grown commercially and can be found in the supermarket, whereas huckleberries are not grown commercially, and even if they are grown, they take two years to bear fruit. Huckleberries are found only in the summer season. They ripen from July to September or October, depending on their location.

You might get confused with the garden huckleberries; these imposters cannot be eaten until they ripen and are cooked. The raw garden huckleberry fruit is toxic, and its taste is bitter; this is how wild huckleberries are distinguished from garden huckleberries.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for do you know, what are huckleberries? And where do huckleberries grow? Then why not take a look at where do ducks sleep?

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Written by Deepthi Reddy

Master of Business Administration

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Deepthi ReddyMaster of Business Administration

With an MBA under her belt, Deepthi has discovered her true calling in content writing. Her writing repertoire is diverse, covering travel, movies, pet care, parenting, animals and birds, and more. Her joy of learning and creating has helped her craft well-written and engaging articles. When she isn't writing, Deepthi enjoys exploring new cultures, trying different foods, and spending quality time with her two children aged 7 and 12.

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Fact-checked by Amatullah Gulbargawala

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in the Language Arts

Amatullah Gulbargawala picture

Amatullah GulbargawalaBachelor of Arts specializing in English, Bachelor of Education specializing in the Language Arts

Amatullah is a passionate student pursuing a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education from Ashoka College of Education. With a keen interest in literature, she has excelled in elocution competitions and is an accomplished writer. She has completed courses like "History of English Language and Literature", "Introduction to Western Political Thought and Theory", and "Development of Soft Skills and Personality". In her free time, Amatullah enjoys reading books and writing poetry.

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