Stalking the Elusive Wild Blueberry

Stalking the Elusive Wild Blueberry

Photos taken on the Skyline Trail and other nearby trails in Middlesex Fells, July 12, 2008. See also the photos from my previous hike at the Fells in June here.

Copyright (c) 2008, Sandra J. Loosemore. Photos are provided for personal viewing only; no other use is permitted without prior written consent.


The trailhead for this hike is at Bellevue pond. It's a very frogly spot.
From the pond, the trail climbs quickly up to this observation tower. It seems to be a popular destination for families and other folks who want a nice view but aren't really interested in going on a long hike.
A view of the Boston skyline from the base of the tower. It's a straight shot down I-93, only 6 or 7 miles. Unfortunately, the proximity of I-93 in this part of the Fells means that there's not much illusion of wilderness, as the traffic sounds are very obvious. You can always tell which way is east just by the noise.
Hey, what's this. I was looking for blueberries and thought it was still too early for blackberries, but look at these. They were very tasty.
These aren't blueberries either -- they're some kind of wild cherry. I tried a few and they were OK, but full of big seeds.
Aha! The elusive wild blueberry has been spotted.
More delicious blueberries.
Still more yummy berries.
Growing up in Michigan, we called the black ones "huckleberries" rather than blueberries. But the berry color isn't what identifies the different species, it's whether they grow on low bushes or high ones. Here in the Fells I found some of each in different places, and sometimes mixed together in the same patch. The commercial supermarket blueberries are a cultivated variety of the high-bush species.
These yellow flowers with fleshy stems are pineweed, a member of the St. John's wort family.
I noted that a lot of the oak trees along the trail were infested with these big leaf galls -- this one was about 2 inches in diameter. They are caused by wasp larvae that attach themselves to the leaves and emit chemicals that cause the leaf to go berserk and grow this bulbous attachment around the larva. It's dry and papery and mostly hollow inside. These don't seem to cause the oaks any serious harm.
I was getting tired of clambering around on rocks in the sun on the Skyline Trail, so I wandered off on a shadier forest trail for a while, passing by this reservoir that is the water supply for the nearby town of Winchester.
This curious plant is an indian pipe. It's all white because it has no chlorophyll; it takes its nutrition only from the soil, like a fungus. (The green leaves growing around it belong to Canada mayflowers.)
Ribbit! This cute leopard frog hopped out to say hello. I was somewhat surprised to see a frog in the dry blueberry scrub, since they normally stick pretty close to water, but not far down the trail I saw the remnants of a spring pond. See more photos of the cute froggy in my Froggy Page gallery.
Back to the big pond at the trailhead. I did see a couple frogs along the edge here as well -- but they were shy, doing the typically froggy thing of diving into the pond and staying there.
The fruits of my labors. :-) It took me all morning and a lot of scrambling around rocky trails to collect this many berries, lest anyone think this was just a walk in the park!


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