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A Forager’s Guide to Fall Berries

The summer may be coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pick fresh berries! There are plenty of fall berries that are perfect for foraging to add to your next salad, make into jelly, or bake into a pie!

Not sure how to forage for fall berries? Continue reading to learn all you need to know about foraging fall berries and what berries to keep an eye out for!

fall berries

Where to Forage for Fall Berries

You don’t need to live in the woods to forage for wild berries! They can be found anywhere foliage grows.

The best place to look for wild berries if you live in the city or suburbs is along the edges of parking lots. This can include rest stops, athletic fields, and schools. If there’s a State Park nearby, head over there to find lots of options to forage!

Many rural areas include patches of small forests or woods where you can forage for wild berries, as well.

Just be aware that you aren’t foraging on private property. And take note of how busy the area is where you forage. It’s safer to forage in an area that’s not close to a railroad or along a busy street due to vehicle contamination.

If you live near fields that are regularly sprayed with chemicals, you might want to avoid picking close to those locations.

Tools for Foraging Fall Berries

A picturesque vineyard during autumn, with farmers harvesting ripe grapes, a symbol of the agricultural bounty and winemaking.

A small container with a handle works great for foraging wild berries. Aim for a container that isn’t too deep since the berries on the bottom will get squished as the container is filled. And a handle will make it easy for you to hook on your arm so you have use of both hands as you forage!

Bringing a small pair of scissors or gardening sheers might make it easier to pick berries that grow in prickly bushes or along thicker vines.

Gloves are a must-have for foraging fall berries! Not only will gloves keep your fingers safe from getting pricked by stray thorns or brambles, but you’ll find your fingers will quickly turn the color of whatever berry you’re picking!

For comfort, be sure to dress in loose clothing that covers your legs and arms. And bring a hat if it’s a sunny day! Even in the fall, skin can get burned by the sun fast. Another consideration is to bring sunscreen and bug spray along.

List of Fall Berries

1. Chokecherries


These reddish cherries taste great in jelly and jams, but don’t forget about pie! The coloring can vary from crimson to a deep red to an almost black red.

They grow on a shrub or small tree and are part of the rose family. They’re known for their bitter yet sweet flavoring, which has earned them the nickname bitter-berries.

2. Teaberries

Although these ripen in late summer, the berries on the plant will remain until early winter. Teaberries are usually about the size of a pea with a mealy texture and a light, fragrant odor.

These red berries have a mildly sweet wintergreen flavor. The berries are most often used to make tea, ice cream, cake, or smoothies.

3. Sheepberries

Sheepberries are blue-black in color and are a small, roundish, oblong fruit. This thick-skinned berry tastes pleasantly sweet and juicy and can be eaten raw.

Many believe the berry tastes best when picked after the first frost of the season.

4. Hackberries

Said to taste sweet like squash with a hint of dates, hackberries commonly grow throughout the Midwest in the cooler seasons. Grown on the hackberry tree, the fruit is small and hard, with a tissue-thin layer around a seed.

The berries are dark maroon, orange or brown. They’re usually ripe enough to pick by late fall, beginning in November.

5. Crowberries

Crowberries are black, dark purple, or a deep red in color. Although they ripen in the fall, the berries will remain on the shrub until spring.

They’re similar in size to that of a pea. Interestingly, the berries usually taste better after they’ve been exposed to a heavy frost. Eat crowberries raw or in jams, jellies, pies, or made into wine.

6. Blackberries

These berries are late summer berries that can still be harvested through the month of September. Wait for them to be fully ripened before picking when they’ve reached a deep red to black or purple coloring.

They should be plump and shiny when ripe. Be sure to wear gloves as the bushes are prickly. These berries may look similar to raspberries. However, there is no hollow core like a raspberry.

7. Hawthorn Berries

Hawthorn berries grow on trees and shrubs throughout North America and are considered to be within the rose family.

These plants are thorny, so be sure to wear gloves when foraging for hawthorn berries! They’re known to be tart and tangy with a hint of sweetness. When ripe, they range in color from a deep red to yellow. Use them to make wine, cordials, jams, jellies, or a candied berry treat.

8. Elderberries

Glass of fresh elderberry syrup with cinnamon stick, brown sugar, star anise and elderberries on a wooden kitchen counter

It’s important to note that elderberries red in color are poisonous and can only be used medicinally if they are cooked properly.

When foraging for fall berries, you’ll want to keep an eye out for elderberries that are black or blue. Use your sheers or scissors to cut off a cluster of berries. You can separate the berries from the stems once at home. These berries taste the best and are more easily digested when cooked.

9. Rowan Berries

Sometimes called mountain ash berries, rowan berries grow on trees with so many clusters that the branches can bow from the weight. When fully ripened, they resemble a bright orange or red hue.

Harvest in October, when the berries have gained a sweet flavor and are no longer bitter. Some believe rowan berries to be poisonous. However, if picked when ripe, they are fine for both humans and pets to consume. Try them in jams, in jellies, dried, candied, in syrups, or pureed.

10. Fall Raspberries

In contrast to summer-fruiting raspberry bushes, ever-bearing raspberries produce berries into the fall. Raspberries are both sweet and tart and taste best when fully ripe with a deep wine color.

The concave inner cup in raspberries is what makes it different from a blackberry. These yummy berries taste great when eaten freshly picked, pureed, juiced, dried, or baked into pies or jellies.

11. Rosehip Berries

These berries are the fruit of the rose plant. They are round and oblong, similar in size to a grape, but quite firm. Rosehip berries are red to orange-hued, with a seed inside that’s covered in tiny hairs.

It’s best to remove the seeds and hairs before consuming, as they can irritate the intestines. The flavor is floral and slightly sweet, similar to a tart apple.

12. Buffalo Berries

These deep-burnished red berries tend to be closely attached to the stem of their prickly bush. Be sure to wear gloves when picking. Experienced buffalo berry pickers suggest waiting for the first frost of the season to pass, then laying a cloth beneath the bush and shaking the berries free.

Buffalo berries are initially sweet but have a strong sour aftertaste. Cooking them into jellies or jams is recommended to fully enjoy them.

13. Squashberries

This berry is part of the honeysuckle family. Small clusters of fleshy, bright red berries ripen through October and are available to be picked throughout the cold months. They usually grow to between ¼ inch to ½ inch in length. Sometimes called a mooseberry, these tart berries make great jam!

14. Bearberries

Bearberries are small, shiny red berries that are often preferred by woodland creatures, notably bears. They have a flavor that’s mealy and tasteless when eaten raw. However, cooking them brings out a sweetness that’s similar to cranberries.

Bearberries make great jams and jellies. Because these plants grow so slowly, they can be harvested at any time of the year!

15. Beautyberries

Tight clusters of shiny purple drupes grow closely together along the stems of a beautyberry plant. They usually grow in the southeastern part of the country.

Raw beautyberries have a unique mildly sweet flavor that boasts a spicy note aftertaste. Beautyberries taste great when boiled into juice or made into tea, jellies, or sorbet.

Time to Forage Fall Berries!

That’s all you need to know about how to forage fall berries! Which berry is your favorite? Grab your bucket and gloves and begin your foraging adventure.

Are you interested in learning more about berries? Visit our Fruit page to find what you’re looking for!