Having gone to several famers markets of late and found a number of people who are advertising Huckleberries only to find what they have are June Berries, also known as Service Berries or Sarvice Berries. These two plants are very different, from when they ripen to the flavour and availability. I am not going to go into deep detail as few people would remember that anyway but a basic detail of how they differ might help.
Huckleberries grow on low shrubs, in alpine conditions. They are ripen late in the summer, have a glossy shine to them and cluster on the branch. Huckleberries are nearly impossible to grow on your own. They almost refuse to grow if they are tampered with. They often cost $60 or more a pound.
June berries grow on tall bushes, often reaching 15 to 20 feet. They ripen from late June to mid august depending on elevation. They grow from low elevation to high elevation as long as they have water. They have only a few berries together, look almost dusty, and are as common as Choke Cherries. You can find them in many tree nurseries in the Rockies and can be planted for decoration, food, or wind break. June berries are my absolute favourite but cost no more than blue berries at a fair price. I would never pay more then $7 a pound.
Knowing the difference between the two can save you a bit of money but do not expect those selling June berries as huckleberries to be happy if you tell them they don’t know what they have.
If you compare the two side by side you can fee the difference between the leaves, the berry texture as well as the way they grow on the branches. When you are buying or eating wild harvested foods it is important to know what you are picking and what you are eating. It is always wise to double check and ask questions. If you happen to find berries while hiking it is always wise to be certain what you are picking before you eat any. Not all berries are edible and not all berries taste all that good but now and then you can find some of the most wonderful things hidden just off the trail if you know what to look for.
Thanks for the information. I took photos for you of the June berries at Trout Creek, but didn’t get them sent. Looks like you don’t need them now. I’ll just use one in my blog when I get to it.