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Cattail Corner

                                                                         Photography Trips

I put a lot of energy into my plant hunting/photography trips. I would begin planning months ahead of time, first using paper maps in the early days then later, the internet. Searching for wild plants is not an exact science. About half of the time I failed in finding the herb I wanted to photograph. But when I did finally find the plant and acquired good quality photographs, it made it that much more rewarding! It is difficult to describe, after enduring the challenges mentioned earlier (see the "Watermarking" write-up on the "Photo Gallery" page) how it felt to finally get that photo! More than a few people thought I was crazy lol! I got  a lot of ribbing from friends about driving hundreds of miles for just a few photos!

My database today contains over 300,000 photographs. I am still traveling and still photographing wild useful plants but not as much as I used to. My trips peaked in my mid-fifties when I did 29 trips in one year. Now I'm lucky to get in one or two plant hunting trips per year.

I want to thank my loved ones for their help and patience on those many trips. Either I was gone or you were with me sharing the adventure. Your laughter and companionship surrounded by indescribable natural beauty..... words cannot express!

And then there are my students.... what can I say? Over the years there were thousands of you. We had a lot of laughs! Each and every one of you was/is important to me.

If you retain anything from my classes, I hope you retain this: A strong, intimate connection to a diverse and pristine natural world is significant in growing up and living a well-balanced life. This concept is important now and will be even more important in the future.

I have few regrets. I would do it all again in a heartbeat. Maybe I would add a couple more fresh Prickly Pear margaritas!

Wherever you are, you can bet Cattail Bob is somewhere planning his next trip and still searching for that next great photo! CB


Several pages out of my old Arizona trip planning atlas.

Background Photograph by David Mills

Colorado High Elevation Wild Edible Fruit

The wild fruit trees, shrubs and vines listed here are sorted by elevation, highest to lowest. The elevation range displayed below is where they have been typically found to date (2020). To plant at a higher elevation than what is listed, place your tree, shrub or vine outdoors in a protected location (more warmth/sun/moisture, with less wind). Mixing a little mulch into your soil is usually beneficial. Note - within a botanical genus, different species may have varied levels of hardiness to higher elevation sites. Nursery stock is usually not wild or native and may not be as hardy at high elevations. Research your species. Also, due to the cooler conditions, higher elevation plants grow more slowly on average. If you have questions, email me I will be happy to answer them.

All of the plants listed below are featured, with color photos and info, in my Survival Plants of Colorado series of books which may be purchased from this website (click on “Books” in the subject bar at the top of the page to see sample pages and/or purchase). My books contain hundreds of “survival” plants and thousands of photos.

If you are browsing with your phone, switch to "desktop" mode for a more accurate rendering of this website.

(spp.= multiple species)

High Elevation Wild Fruit Trees

featured in my book “Survival Plants of Colorado” – Volume l

Elder                             Sambucus spp.                Tree                         5,000 – 12,000 ft.              page 90                               Note: The shrub, Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa), commonly found at high elevations has mildly toxic red-colored fruit. Only blue or black Sambucus spp. fruit, typically found at lower elevations, is edible. These are small trees. They are not very common in the wild in Colorado.

Serviceberry                 Amelanchier spp.             Tree                         5,000 – 11,000 ft.              page 38

Pin Cherry                     Prunus pensylvanica        Tree                         5,000 – 9,500 ft.                page 43

Apple                            Malus spp.                        Tree                         3,500 – 9,000 ft.                page 37                       Some Malus spp. are better adapted to higher elevations and cold winters than are others.

Chokecherry                 Prunus virginiana              Tree                          3,500 – 9,000 ft.               page 41

Pinon Pine                     Pinus edulis                      Tree                          3,500 – 9,000 ft.               page 2                              Edible nuts (remove the shell).

Juniper                          Juniperus spp.                 Tree                          3,500 – 9,000 ft.                page 2                  Culinary berries for flavoring (gin, potato salad, etc.) and medicinal uses.

New Mexico Locust      Robinia neomexicana       Tree                         3,500 – 8,500 ft.                page 46                               Edible beans when cooked.

Hawthorn                      Crataegus spp.                 Tree                         3,500 – 8,500 ft.                page 37

Gambel Oak                 Quercus gambelii              Tree                        3,500 – 8,500 ft.                page 12                               Edible acorns when processed and cooked (remove the shell). Poisonous otherwise.

Hazelnut (Filbert)         Corylus cornuta                  Tree                        5,000 – 8,000 ft.                page 11                    Edible nuts (remove the shell).

Plum (wild)                   Prunus americana              Tree                        3,500 – 7,000 ft.                page 42

Black Locust                Robinia pseudoacacia       Tree                        3,500 – 6,500 ft.                page 46
Edible beans when cooked. Listed with New Mexico Locust on page 46.

High Elevation Wild Shrubs and Vines with Edible Fruit

featured in my book “Survival Plants of Colorado” – Volume l

Huckleberry                 Vaccinium spp.                  Shrub                     8,000 – 12,000 ft.              page 70

Trumpet Gooseberry   Ribes leptanthum               Shrub                     5,500 – 12,000 ft.              page 33

Red Currant                 Ribes cereum                    Shrub                     3,500 – 11,500 ft.              page 35                    Berries are not tart or sour but sweet.

Black Gooseberry       Ribes lacustre                    Shrub                     7,500 – 11,500 ft.              page 35

Gooseberry Currant    Ribes montigenum             Shrub                     7,500 – 11,500 ft.              page 35                         The above two currants are included under Hi-Bush Currant on page 35 in my Volume l book.

Raspberry                   Rubus strigosus                 Shrub                     5,000 – 11,500 ft.              page 40

Gooseberry                 Ribes inerme                     Shrub                      5,000 – 11,000 ft.              page 34                    Berries are very tart and sour but good.

Twisted Stalk               Streptopus amplexifolius   Shrub                      6,500 – 11,000 ft.              page 8

Solomonplume            Smilacina racemosa          Subshrub                5,000 – 10,500 ft.              page 9                      Berries are very sweet.

Squashberry                Vibernum edule                 Shrub                      6,000 – 10,000 ft.              page 90                      Taste like cranberries.

Kinnikinnik                   Arctostaphylos uva ursi     Subshrub                6,000 – 10,000 ft.              page 70

Thimbleberry              Rubus deliciosus                Shrub                      3,500 – 10,000 ft.              page 41

Salmonberry               Rubus parviflorus               Shrub                      6,000 – 10,000 ft.              page 40

Hops                           Humulus lupulus                Vine                         3,500 – 9,000 ft.                page 12                      Flowers are used medicinally and for brewing beer.

Limonada (Squaw Bush) Rhus trilobata                Shrub                      3,500 – 9,000 ft.                page 53

Tomatillo                     Physalis spp.                      Subshrub                3,500 – 8,000 ft.                page 85

Golden Currant          Ribes aureum                     Shrub                      3,500 – 8,000 ft.                page 34

Grape                         Vitis spp.                            Vine                         3,500 – 7,000 ft.                page 55

Sand Cherry               Prunus besseyi                  Shrub                      3,500 – 6,500 ft.                 page 42

Colorado High Elevation Wild Fruit Trees featured in my

Volume ll book  “Survival Plants of Colorado”

Twinberry                    Lonicera involucrata         Shrub             7,000 – 11,500 ft.                         page 105                      Twin black fruits are edible (palatable?). Outside Colorado, better tasting fruit has been found.

Wolfs Currant              Ribes wolfii                       Shrub             6,500 – 11,500 ft.                         page 46                          Fruit should be cooked to make it palatable.

Mountain Ash             Sorbus scopulina              Tree                6,000 – 10,000 ft.                         page 47                      Bright orange fruits are edible when dried or cooked.

Manzanita                   Arctostaphylos patula       Shrub             7,000 – 9,000 ft.                          page 85

Cotoneaster                Cotoneaster spp.              Shrub             3,500 – 9,000 ft.                          page 50

Wolfberry (Goji Berry) Lycium barbarum             Shrub             4,500 – 8,000 ft.                          page 97

Banana Yucca             Yucca baccata                Subshrub       4,300 – 8,000 ft.                           page 7                  Delicious fruit when ripe.

Hackberry                   Celtis spp.                        Tree                3,500 – 7,500 ft.                          page 12

Greenbrier                   Smilax lasioneura             Vine               5,000 – 7,500 ft.                          page 7                      Berries should be dried or cooked to make palatable. Greenbrier also has medicinal uses.

Buffaloberry                 Shepherdia argentea       Shrub/Tree    4,500 – 7,500 ft.                           page 75

Tart red berries.

Peach (wild)                 Prunus persica                Tree               3,500 – 7,500 ft.                           page 49

Apricot (wild)                Prunus armeniaca           Tree              4,300 – 6,500 ft.                           page 49

Honey Locust              Gleditsia triacanthos        Tree               3,500 – 6,500 ft.                           page 59

Edible beans when cooked.

Fremont Barberry        Mahonia fremontii            Shrub             4,300 – 6,500 ft.                           page 36

Oregon Grape             Mahonia aquifolium         Shrub             3,500 – 6,000 ft.                           page 36

Pear (wild)                   Pyrus communis              Tree                3,500 – 6,000 ft.                           page 50                              In my travels over the years throughout the West, I have only seen wild Pear twice.

Mulberry                      Morus alba                      Tree                 3,500 – 5,500 ft.                           page 14

Nanking Cherry           Prunus tomentosa           Shrub               3,500 - ??? ft.                                                                   This produces delicious wild fruit. It will be included in my next book, Volume lll. It can endure harsh winters.

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