While blueberries and huckleberries look similar, blueberries contain tiny, barely discernible seeds, while huckleberries have 10 larger seeds "big enough to get into crevices between your teeth," the late Maurice Brooks, West Virginia's premiere naturalist, once wrote. Huckleberries are generally more purple than blue in color, and their flesh is blue while a blueberry's is whitish.
In the New River Gorge National River, blackberries and wineberries -- a variety of raspberry -- can be found in the edges of forests surrounding campgrounds, boat landings and old homesteads.
"We've never carried out a prohibition against berry-picking for personal use," said West Virginia State Parks Chief Ken Caplinger. "But generally, state parks aren't all that great for producing berries, since they tend to have mature, shady forests, while berries need open space and sun."
In state forests, particularly those in which logging has taken place, blackberries can be found along the edges of former haul roads or in timber harvest sites that are beginning to regenerate, he said.
Among the state's late-blooming wild berry species is the cranberry, which ripens in mid- to late September on Dolly Sods.
"But picking more than it takes to bake a loaf of cranberry bread can be backbreaking work, because they grow right on the ground," Bartgis said.
A festival honoring the state's most widely sought wild berry takes place this weekend in the Harrison County town of Nutter Fort. The 17th annual West Virginia Blackberry Festival includes a pet parade, starting at 6 p.m. today, followed by music by Eddie Davisson and Rick K. and the Allnighters.
Saturday's events include a talent show at noon and a blackberry-baking contest at 2 p.m., followed by Mason-Dixon Wrestling at 3 p.m., the opening of a carnival midway at 4 p.m., a concert by Josh Oldaker at 5 p.m., followed by performances by Ryan Cain and the Ables, Danny and the Juniors and a fireworks display.
Reach Rick Steelhammer at rsteelham...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-5169.