Along the streams and bordering the swamp lands the Salmonberry grows profusely in the lower altitudes of the park. It also grows up to altitudes of five thousand feet or more, so that its ripened berries may be found from early June until late August, depending upon the elevation at which you find them.
The salmonberry fruit is a raspberry-like, edible berry and grows on a spreading bush three to ten feet high, armed with weak prickles.
Two varieties occur and both of these were found in great abundance on a recent trip to Comet Falls, growing side by side making a hedge along each side of the trail in the rock slides and moist hillsides. About Longmire the fruit had ripened and gone some two or three weeks earlier, but a half mile below Comet Falls a great abundance of ripe berries were found, while above the falls the red bloom of the flowers was prominent. Here at this altitude the bushes were also much less in shight.
One variety has a yellow berry and the other a garnet-red. The yellow variety is the better flavored and grows larger and more conical in shape than the red. The other variety - the red - has berries somewhat flattened in shape and slightly bitter in taste. The bush of the garnet variety is also distinguishable by the purple color of the twigs.
The young fleshy sheets of the salmonberry are sweet and are also used by the Indians as food. Salmonberries gave the pioneers their first early fruit and still furnish the mountaineer with that much needed diet when on the trail. Bears are also very fond of the fruit and more than one mountaineer has met bruin face to face in the dense salmonberry patches when both were so buisily occupied in eating the luscious berries that ordinary caution had been cast aside for the moment.
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