Are all wild berries poisonous?

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Edible Wild Berries

These juicy cranberries can be found in bogs and swamps.
These juicy cranberries can be found in bogs and swamps.
Rosemary Calvert/Getty Images

There are far too many varieties of edible berries to list, but here are a few that you might find in the wild:

Cranberries (Vaccinnium angustifolium): The ones you find in the wild are the same species as the ones sold in supermarkets. Look for them from August until midwinter in swamps and bogs, and along the shores of lakes. They're found in low-lying shrubs with slender brown stems and green leaves that are rounded at the tip and whitish underneath. The ripe berries are bright red. Make cranberry sauce to go with turkey, or bake them into scones [source: Elias].

Huckleberries (Gaylussacia baccata): Starting as early as June in the southern United States and late summer to early Fall in the northern United States, you can find these berries in woods and clearings with dry to moist soils, on 4-foot-tall shrubs with numerous branches and broad leaves. Ripe huckleberries are black. Eat them fresh or use them in pancakes, jams and jellies [source: Elias].

Golden currants (Ribes aureum): One of 120 different species of currants and gooseberries in the genus Ribes, these were a favorite Native American food. They're found in the summer along streams, ravines and slopes in hilly to mountainous elevations. They grow on stiff-branched shrubs that can reach 6.5 feet (1.9 meters) in height, with rounded, three-lobed, light-green leaves and droopy yellow flowers. The berries are red or black when ripe. Use them to make preserves [source: Elias].

Allegheny blackberries (Rubus allegheniensis): One of numerous blackberry species that are found all over North America, allegheny blackberries are found in woods and clearings and along roadsides in the mid-Atlantic region from North Carolina to New York from midsummer through fall [source: USDA database]. The bushes, which have pointy medium-dark green leaves and white flowers with five petals, grow to as high as 9 feet (2.7 meters) tall and spread as wide as 12 feet (3.6 meters). Eat them in a bowl of milk with a touch of sugar to dilute the tartness [source: NPS].

Wild strawberries (Fragaria virginiana): Wild strawberries are also known as Virginia strawberries, but different varieties of them are found all over North America [source: USDA database1]. The ground-hugging plant, found in patches in fields, has a hairy flower stalk. The red strawberries, which ripen during the early summer, aren't usually as big as the supermarket variety, but they have a reputation for being delicious.