Berry and mushroom picking Berry and mushroom picking

Berry and mushroom picking provide green exercise and relaxing moments in nature. Photo: Ismo Pekkarinen.

Berry and mushroom picking are both popular in Finland. In summer and fall, locals rush to their favourite swamps and forests with their baskets and buckets to pick some vitamin-rich berries and delicious mushrooms. It’s not only a great way to spend time with your friends or family; berries and mushrooms are also an excellent addition to your diet, even on a hiking or backpacking trip. Just imagine having your breakfast oatmeal topped with a handful of freshly picked bilberries or cloudberries – what a healthy start to your day!

Generally, Everyman’s Right allows you to pick berries and mushrooms almost anywhere, with a few conditions (see below). However, National Parks as well as other protected areas may have restricted areas for nature protection or other reasons. They are marked on a map but not in terrain. So take a glance at the map beforehand and make sure you keep away from restricted areas and bird nesting areas when heading out for a berry or mushroom foraging trip to a national park or other protected area. 

There is no fee to pick wild berries or mushrooms.  

Good to know 

Familiarize yourself with the concept of Everyman’s Right before your berry or mushroom picking trip. The basic concept is that you are allowed to pick wild berries and mushrooms almost anywhere. The most crucial rules for berry and mushroom pickers are: 

  • Keep a distance of at least 50 metres (150 ft) to residential buildings and keep away from gardens, cultivated fields or plantations. Respect locals’ privacy!
  • Pick wild berries only. If it’s a field, it’s most likely someone’s plantation
  • Restrictions may apply to the collection of naturally growing products in National Parks and other protected areas. For example, harvesting chaga mushrooms (Inonotus obliquus) is not allowed in National parks and other protected areas
  • Everyman’s Right includes the responsibility of respecting nature. Pick berries without damaging the plant. Do not litter. Everyman’s Right doesn’t allow you to collect rocks, insects, parts of a plant, moss or lichen. 

In summer and autumn, your hike can be sweetened with a bit of berry and mushroom foraging. Bring a basket! Photo: Sari Airas.

Due to possible accumulation of heavy metals, it is a good idea to refrain from picking berries and mushrooms closer than 50-100 metres from busy highways and industrial facilities.

Generally, the best season for picking berries is from mid-July through late September.  It depends on the berry type, location, and weather. National Park Visitor Centres, local people and local tourist offices are good sources of information.

The best mushroom season is usually from August to October. However, you may find mushrooms until the arrival of snow. In rainy conditions you’ll have a better chance of finding more.

Make sure to bring containers for your harvest. Baskets or buckets will do. Keep different berries and mushrooms apart for an easier clean-up. A mushroom knife can be useful.

Safety

Only pick berries that you can identify. Only pick ripe berries. Here are some of the most common wild berries and the times when they are usually ready for picking: 

  • Dark blue bilberry (wild blueberry, Vaccinium myrtillus) grows in forests throughout Finland. Picking season: Mid-July – Early September
  • Raspberry (Rubus idaeus) is a red sweet berry that is common anywhere south of Oulu. Picking season: Mid-July – Mid-September 
  • Cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus) is a highly valued, orange-coloured delicacy found mainly on swamps and marshy areas in Lapland, Oulu-Kuusamo region, and Kainuu. Picking season: Mid-July – Early August
  • Lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) is an evergreen shrub. Its bright red fruits are very sour and known for their health benefits. Picking season: Mid-August – Mid-October.  
Bilberries and cloudberries are tasty and nutritious and make for an excellent light snack. Photo: Saara Airaksinen.

Only pick mushrooms that you can identify, and keep in mind that not all mushrooms are edible. Some mushrooms can cause serious poisoning — or even worse! Always use multiple sources of identification before picking and eating any wild mushrooms. Some of the most common edible mushrooms include: 

  • Yellow chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius)
  • Horn of plenty (Craterellus cornucopioides)
  • Funnel chanterelle (Cantharellus tubaeformis)
  • Woolly milkcap (Lactarius torminosus
  • Penny-bun (Boletus edulis). 

Proper identification can mean the difference between life and death. Never pick or consume any mushrooms unless you are 100% sure of what they are. Photo: Eeva Mäkinen.

If feeling uncertain, join a mushroom picking tour led by an expert. Many National Parks have a selection of professional nature guides that offer foraging tours. 

Pay attention to your location, as it is very easy to get lost when berries and mushrooms steal your attention. Carry a map and compass and know how to use them

Carry essential items. Bring good waterproof boots, warm clothes, rain gear, food, snacks, and enough drinking water. Mosquito repellent can save you from a lot of itching and scratching. Pocket guides can be  helpful. 

Leave word about where you are going, by what route, and when you plan to return. 

Carry a fully charged mobile phone and keep it warm. Note that not all areas have mobile network coverage. 

Emergency number in Finland is 112. 

Do not approach any wildlife.