The berry season begins in the spring, about mid-May in some areas. Trees, shrubs, and herbs whose flowers were among the early bloomers produce the berries.
Serviceberries are one of the first trees to bloom in the understory of the forest in the spring before the leaves have come out. They are easily spotted at that time of the year when the tree is covered with white flowers. Members of the rose family, the flowers have five petals and are about an inch wide. This is the time to look for the trees. Once the flowers are gone and the leaves have developed, the trees blend in with the forest and disappear.
About a month after the tree has bloomed, the fruits begin to ripen. They are best when they turn a deep red or purplish color. You have to get out early to pick them before the birds get to them. They will eat them until they're gone. The fruits are mildly juicy and have a slight, almond-like flavor.
Mulberries are medium-sized trees with fruits that look like blackberries. All are edible but some have more flavor than others. White mulberries are mostly bland tasting, while red or black berries are sweet.
Wild strawberries look like strawberries, except they are much smaller. What they lack in size they make up for in taste. They are usually found in light areas within the forest or along its edges. A member of the rose family, they have flowers with five white petals in the early spring.
How can you tell the difference between a wild strawberry and a mock strawberry?
True strawberries have white flowers, whereas mock strawberries have yellow flowers. Also, the fruit of the mock strawberry has seeds on the surface and the inside is a whitish pulp with no flavor. The true strawberry looks and tastes like a strawberry.
Wild strawberries are the ancestors of the cultivated strawberries that have been bred to produce larger berries but less flavor. Wild strawberries also have more nutritional value than their cultivated counterparts, which are mostly water.