Saturday, May 7, 2011

Blueberries, Bilberries, and Huckleberries.

My favorite thing to forage is berries, you get a lot of calories for not much work. They freeze really well and can be made into muffins, pancakes, jams, jellies, sorbet, or just eaten frozen or right from the vine, bush or tree! I have found several types of berries in Mobile this year, blackberries, wild strawberries, blueberries, huckleberries, and mulberries. My favorite is blueberries, bilberries, and huckleberries simply because they have no thorns unlike black berries, produce lots of fruit unlike wild strawberries, and grow at eye level unlike mulberries. The naming thing is the only issue I have with these I have heard people call berries that look almost exactly alike june berries, blueberries, bilberries, trail berries, and huckleberries. So I am not sure what to call them. If they are blue and frosty, with a well defined round five pointed crown on the end of the berry away from the stem, without seeds inside, and small green leaves I call that a blueberry. If they are shiny purple/black berries, growing in chest high bushes, with green small pointed on both ends leaves with small red spots on the leaves, no seeds inside and a small pointy crown on the end away from the stem, I call that a huckleberry. If they look very similar to a blue berry but with seeds inside I call that a juneberry. One thing to remember about berries is there are no known berries with a crown on the end away from the stem that are poisonous. **look at the pictures below**  This doesn't stop Adam (husband) from being very nervous when I pop "trail berries" in my mouth! A lot of times these berries will be smaller than those you find in the supermarket and sometimes they will be a lot bigger. My favorite of these is the shiny purple/black huckleberry it has a sour/sweet taste with a lot of flavor. I am not so sure it likes this part of the country though because I have not found many plants and the plants I have found have been very petite. The blueberries I have found have been very good much better than supermarket blueberries which taste like nothing but sugar and I do not like. They have all been a lot smaller then there domesticated cousins though.  I found some unripe Juneberries in a local Mobile park which I shall not name (where's the fun in me telling you where to look?!) well all but a couple where unripe those that were quickly got eaten. 

blueberry flowers, most "blueberry like" fruit has bell shaped flowers
 except for the juneberry whose flower looks similar to blackberries. 

Blueberries in various stages of ripening *note the crown on the end!*

This was called a bilberry on wikimedia commons *crown*
Also note the shape of the leaves and red spots. 

diagram of a huckleberry See the *crown* on the end?
Thats how you know it won't kill you! 

"blueberries" from outside of Sydney, AU. No crown, I wouldn't eat em!

wild blueberry was the name attributed to this one.
While it looks a bit strange notice it still has a *crown*

*a note on pictures: These are not mine, I did not take them, I do not have the rights to them.  I got all of them from wikimedia commons and they are public domain photos which means they are free for the public to use. 

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