My Tier List of the Berries in Harper Park

Here are the edible berries I have found in Harper Park







(Note from my mom: some berries are only for the birds and the bears and can be poisonous for us. Be careful, and don’t use my blog post as your guide!)

Here is my tier list of them:

#1 Thimbleberries

A ripe one tastes amazing and melts in your mouth

#2 Huckleberries

Per bush there are at least 20 – 50 Huckleberries and its pretty hard to find one that tastes bad

#3 Blackberries

There are not that many ripe ones but if they are they are very good

(Another note from my mom: these are California Blackberries, which we know as ground blackberries. They are the native ones.)

#4 Salmonberries

They taste okay not the best there are a lot of them in Harper park but usually not ripe

#5 Blueberries

Again I whould rank the higher but they are not ripe

#6 Elderberries

Even if they are ripe they are disgusting

One vicious plant; The Devil’s club

The Devil’s Club (Oplopanax horridus) is a distinctive plant native to the forests of North America, specifically in the Pacific Northwest region, which includes notable areas like Harper Park.

A fully grown devil's club found in Juneau Alaska. The plant has flowered and produced fruit
A devil’s club found in Juneau, Alaska

About the Devil’s Club

Reaching heights of 1 to 3 meters (3 to 9 feet), the Devil’s Club stands tall as a deciduous shrub. Its most striking attribute is its dense covering of yellow spines that extend along the stems and leaves. These spines serve as a potent defense mechanism, deterring herbivores and protecting the plant from potential damage. The sharp spines can cause irritation and itching when they come into contact with the skin, earning the plant its intriguing name.

In addition to its thorny armor, the Devil’s Club boasts remarkably large leaves, measuring between 20 and 40 centimeters in diameter (8 to 15 inches). The impressive leaf size serves multiple purposes for the plant’s survival and growth. Firstly, the larger surface area allows for greater light absorption, maximizing the plant’s ability to carry out photosynthesis. By capturing more sunlight, the Devil’s Club can produce higher levels of energy, supporting its overall health and development.

Moreover, the expansive leaves play a crucial role in water retention. In the shaded understory environment where the Devil’s Club often thrives, capturing sufficient moisture can be challenging. However, the plant’s sizable leaves enable it to collect and retain water from various sources such as rainfall, dew, and humidity. This adaptive feature ensures a steady water supply, contributing to the plant’s resilience and ability to survive in its habitat.

A birds eye view of the devil's club.

During the spring season, the Devil’s Club produces distinctive flowers. Starting as white and green blossoms, these clusters of flowers eventually transform into vibrant red berries during the summer months. The bright red berries serve as a valuable food source for local wildlife, including bears and birds. These animals play an essential role in seed dispersal, helping to propagate the Devil’s Club across the forest landscape.

In Harper Park

As far as i’ve seen, there is only one shrub of the Devil’s Club that i have seen this year in the park, but i am sure that more will come in following time.

In conclusion, the Devil’s Club is a remarkable shrub found in the forests of the Pacific Northwest region. Its unique attributes, including the spiny exterior, large leaves, and striking flowers and berries, contribute to its distinctiveness and ecological significance. Despite its challenging nature, the Devil’s Club coexists with its environment, providing food and shelter for wildlife while offering cultural and medicinal value to human communities.

Learn more about the Devil’s Club;


Since there isn’t much garbage to clean up (which is good) I thought I might talk about the trees in the park. The main ones are the Western Red Cedar and the Douglas Fir. There’s another one too, it’s a bit uncommon but you might find it if you look up at the leaves of the trees. It usually has bright green leaves and they won’t blend in with the other trees. Take a guess, let’s see if you’re right: it’s the big-leaf maple tree!

Now I’ll tell you about the stats of the trees. The Douglas fir is large to very large tree, with an average height of 20-60 meters. The Western red cedar has an average height of 30-53 meters. And lastly, the big-leaf maple has an average height of 9-21 meters. Pretty cool right? Here are some pictures that we took during the week, thanks for reading!

Glacial erratic in Harper Park
On top of the other glacial erratic in Harper Park (near the Smiling Creek bridge). Douglas firs, Western red cedars, and big leaf maples in the background.

Skunk Cabbage and Bear Poop

Last week, we saw bear poop and new skunk cabbage: not a coincidence!

Did you know skunk cabbage creates heat and smells bad because bugs like flies and beetles think it’s a dead animal? And thats good for the plant because from time to time they will land on other plants, right?  And then they will land on the skunk cabbage and it gets pollinated!

Bears love skunk cabbage too for a very weird but cool reason! And the link down here is why:

Naturespeak: Skunk cabbage is a bear’s BFF

Skunk Cabbage

Park Spark Week 3

Week 3 was not so hard as last week. We only got 1 bag of garbage this time so that’s good news.

I found out about this new app that my mom showed me that shows you what plant you’re looking at and all you need to do is take a picture of it and it’s incredibly cool. I’ll show you some photos of plants that live in Harper Park and the app itself: