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Special Forest Products

Timber is not the only useful product that grows in forests.  Things like berries, mushrooms, and greenery are also forest products.  These products are often referred to as “special forest products”.  Some landowners have a large enough quantity of these products to make some additional income.  However, even landowners who don’t wish to get into selling special forest products can benefit from growing them.  They can be harvested for personal use, or to give as gifts to friends and family.

Chances are, you already have some of these products on your property.  Berry-producing plants like salal, Oregon-grape, salmonberry, thimbleberry, evergreen huckleberry and red huckleberry are very common in western Washington and Oregon.  Although you probably won’t find these as tasty for fresh eating as the kinds of berries found in the store, some make very good jams.  Various species of edible mushrooms are also common in Pacific Northwest forests.  You can even make maple syrup from bigleaf maple (although it takes a lot more sap than sugar maple).

If the things you want are already on the property, you may not need to do anything, or you might be able to increase the quantity by thinning trees to allow more light to the understory plants.  If you are interested in growing species that aren’t already growing there, most of the species you would be interested in are available from native plant nurseries, and can be planted.  In the case of mushrooms, you can buy wood plugs containing mushroom spawn to inoculate freshly dead wood.  Many landowners have a ready supply of small hardwood trees that can be cut a few at a time for this purpose.

If you are interested in enhancing the amount of special forest products on your property, let us know.  We can take a look with you to evaluate the opportunities.

You might enjoy some of the special forest products videos posted by our friend Kevin Zobrist of WSU extension on his YouTube channel.  He has videos on making autumn wreaths, salal berry jam, and shiitake mushroom logs.