Botanical Name: Vaccinium ovatum
Common Names: Huckleberry or Gaylussacia, Southern cranberry.
Huckleberry plants are found throughout eastern North America and the Andes and other mountainous regions of South America. Huckleberry fruits are edible and resemble blueberries (Vaccinium species), to which they are closely related. The plants can be cultivated and require acidic and moist but well-drained soil.
Huckleberries grow wild on subalpine slopes, forests, bogs and lake basins of the northwestern United States and western Canada. The plant has shallow, radiating roots topped by a bush growing from an underground stem. Attempts to cultivate huckleberry plants from seeds have failed, with plants devoid of fruits. This may be due to inability for the plants to fully root and to replicate the native soil chemistry of wild plants.
Huckleberry plants are deciduous shrubs or subshrubs with simple oblong leaves. Young stems and leaves can be waxy or hairy, depending on the species. The small urn-shaped flowers, sometimes solitary but typically borne in small clusters, can be greenish, red, white, or pinkish. The fleshy fruits have 10 small seeds.
The common huckleberry (G. baccata) of the eastern United States and Canada is also called black, or high-bush, huckleberry. Dwarf huckleberry (G. dumosa) extends from Florida to Newfoundland. Box huckleberry (G. brachycera), native to the eastern and central United States, can form huge clones, some of which are thousands of years old, by vegetative reproduct
Fruit is eaten raw, cooked or dried for later use. Somewhat sweet but slightly dry. The fruit is quite palatable but is nothing special. A strong flavour, they are usually cooked in pies, preserves etc. The fruit will often hang on the bush until early winter. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter. A tea is made from the leaves and dried fruit.
Huckleberries were traditionally collected by Native American and First Nations people along the Pacific coast, interior British Columbia, and Montana for use as food or traditional medicine. The berries are small and round, 5–10 millimetres (0.20–0.39 in) in diameter, and look like large dark blueberries. In taste, they may be tart, with a flavor similar to that of a blueberry, especially in blue- and purple-colored varieties, and some have noticeably larger, bitter seeds. The fruit is versatile in various foods or beverages, including jam, pudding, candy, pie, ice cream, muffins, pancakes, salad dressings, juice, tea, soup, and syrup. Traditional medical applications included treating pain, heart ailments, and infections.
In the wild, huckleberries are consumed by bears, birds, coyotes, and deer.
Huckleberries are especially helpful in aiding the pancreas in digesting sugars and starches. This fruit is alkaline in reaction.
The huckleberry is high in vitamins B and C and potassium. They can be used in an elimination diet, and because they are high in iron, are good for building the blood.
Huckleberries have been used as packs on running sores, eczema, and skin disorders. The leaves of the huckleberry may be dried and used to make a tea that is good for poor starch digestion.
The leaves are antiseptic, astringent, carminative and hypoglycaemic. An infusion of the leaves and sugar have been given to a mother after childbirth to help her regain her strength. A decoction of the leaves has been used in the treatment of diabetes.
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.