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National Park Quiz 30: Gathering

The single-leaf pinyon pine (Pinus monophylla) is one of many pinyon pine species that produce edible pine nuts. Photo byToiyab via Wikipedia.

1. Which best describes National Park Service policies pertaining to the gathering of berries, fruits, nuts, and other edible foods in the national parks?
a. Gathering these foods is prohibited in all national parks.
b. Gathering these foods is permitted in all national parks.
c. Gathering certain foods is permitted, subject to standard rules enforced in all national parks.
d. Gathering certain foods is permitted, subject to rules established for individual national parks.

2. The photo accompanying this quiz shows a pinyon pine whose cones yield edible pine nuts. For thousands of years, pine nuts were a staple in the diet of Native Americans living in areas with pinyon pines. One of the following national parks has pinyon pines and allows visitors to gather the cones (up to three gunny sacks of cones per household per year) for personal, noncommercial use. Which one is it?
a. Voyageurs National Park
b. Everglades National Park
c. Blue Ridge Parkway
d. Great Basin National Park

3. The official state berry of Maine is the ______, and if you were to visit Acadia National Park at the right time of year, you could pick a batch for your personal use.
a. salmonberry
b. red raspberry
c. blueberry
d. cranberry

4. It’s a hot afternoon, but you’re wearing boots, a long sleeved shirt, and two pairs of jeans. You’re probably going to end up bleeding from miscellaneous scratches anyway. That’s the price you’ll almost certainly have to pay if you decide to bake a special dessert with ______ you’ve picked yourself.
a. blackberries
b. huckleberries
c. gooseberries
d. thimbleberries

5. Many kinds of mushrooms grow in our national parks. Of those listed below, only the ______ can be safely eaten.
a. amanita
b. morel
c. green-spored Lepiota
d. jack-o'lantern

6. Depending on the harvest cycle, people who visit the historic Fruita orchards in ______ can pick several different kinds of fruits, including apricots, peaches, pears, and apples.
a. Craters of the Moon National Monument
b. Capitol Reef National Park
c. Shenandoah National Park
d. Weir Farm National Historic Site

7. Persimmons and pawpaws, two trees that produce fruit that opossums, deer, and many people consider quite tasty, are found in some parts of the United States. One national park that has both of these fruit tree species is
a. Great Smoky Mountains National Park
b. Joshua Tree National Park
c. Olympic National Park
d. Yellowstone National Park

8. Many visitors who arrive at ______ National Historic Site during the summer or fall get to sample, free of charge, fruit picked from the park’s nine acres of historic orchards.
a. Eisenhower
b. Hopewell Furnace
c. John Muir
d. Lincoln Home

9. Muscadine grapes grow in some national parks of the southeastern states. If you see ripe muscadines that are green in color and unusually large, you are almost certainly looking at the muscadine variety known as the
a. muscatel
b. currant
c. agave
d. scuppernong

10. The ______ harvest saguaro fruit every summer in Saguaro National Park, continuing a practice that these Native Americans established many generations ago.
a. Tohono O’odham
b. Havasupai
c. Timbisha Shoshone
d. Tlingit

Extra credit question:

11. Earlier in the day, you gathered some leaves from a familiar shrub so you could make a vitamin-laden tea at the end of a hard day of humping a heavy pack through the wilderness. As you brew the tea, you remember that the end product of the brewing process is technically known as an
a. alkaloid
b. amalgam
c. infusion
d. alloy

Super Bonus Question:

12. You’ve eaten a handful of homemade trail mix offered by a guy you met in camp. “Interesting taste,” you say, “Were those little red things, dried cranberries?” Your new friend replies “No, they’re dried cherries I bought during a trip to a national park in northern Michigan last year.” In further conversation about that visit he mentions the Leelanau Peninsula and the Port Oneida Rural Historic District. From this you surmise that he must have visited
a. Pictured Rocks National lakeshore
b. Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore
c. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
d. Isle Royal National Park


(1) d -– Be sure you understand the pertinent rules before gathering berries, fruits, nuts, or any other edibles in any national park. Commercial use of gathered foods is prohibited on a system wide basis.

(2) d -- Pinyon pines grow in rugged areas of the southwestern states and Mexico, generally above 4,000 feet. In Great Basin National Park, they grow at elevations between 6,000 and 9,000 feet.

(3) c - Blueberry bushes are abundant along the park trails in Acadia.

(4) a -– Some blackberry cultivars offer easy picking, but the blackberry bushes you find in the wild have spiny stems with numerous sharp thorns that can tear exposed skin to shreds.

(5) b -– Morels are quite tasty. Amanitas, false morels, and “little brown mushrooms “(LBMs) are the three general classes of dangerous mushrooms. (Amanitas account for about 90% of the fatal mushroom poisonings in the U.S.) Eating a green-spored Lepiota or jack-o'lantern can yield distressing results, including vomiting, diarrhea, cramps and loss of coordination, but the symptoms usually disappear within 24 hours.

(6) b -- As each crop comes into season in Capitol Reef’s historic Fruita orchards, fruit becomes available to the public on a pick-your-own basis. Fruit consumed in the orchards is free, but there’s a charge for fruit taken out of the orchards.

(7) a -- The American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) and the pawpaw (Asimina triloba) are native to the eastern United States, and both can be found in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Early settlers in the Southern Appalachians sometimes planted persimmons in orchards and in places where they wanted to attract deer and other game animals.

(8) c -- The park staff and volunteers pick the fruit as it ripens and put it in wooden boxes for visitors to enjoy on the premises.

(9) d –- The distinctive-looking scuppernong, North Carolina’s official state fruit, is commonly used to make wine, jellies, and jams.

(10) a -– Some harvesters use long metal poles to remove ripe fruit from the saguaro, but many prefer the traditional O’odham kuipaD, a device made of linked saguaro ribs with a short rib cross-piece, because it is lighter and easier to wield. After the ripe fruit is gathered, it is cut open to remove the pulp for processing.

(11) c -– Tea is an infusion because it is a solution obtained by steeping a substance (in this case, leaves in hot water).

(12) b -– The Port Oneida Rural Historic District is situated on Michigan’s Leelenau Peninsula in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Encompassing more than 3,400 acres, the Port Oneida Rural Historic District is the largest government-owned historic agricultural community in the United States.

Grading: 9 or 10 correct, rest on your laurels; 7 or 8 correct, pretty darn good; 6 correct, passable fair; 5 or fewer correct, nothing to brag about.


Good quiz, Bob, although I ended up with only a passable score. I may have to enroll in your distance education class after all. Do you have a section on harvesting in the parks?


Rick Smith

Sorry, there's nothing in my parks course about gathering edibles in the parks. I might suggest that you get yourself a copy of Ewell Gibbons Stalking the Wild Asparagus -- if it's still in print, that is. BTW, Rick, I've seen the draft of that Survival quiz you've put together for Traveler readers, and its a dandy. Stay tuned, folks. It's the very next quiz in this series, and it's scheduled for release next Wednesday, December 3.

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