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Herbs & Plants

Gaultheria procumbens

Botanical Name :Gaultheria procumbens
Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Gaultheria
Species: G. procumbens
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales

Common Names:Eastern teaberry, Checkerberry, BHoxberry, or American wintergreen, Teaberry, Mountain Tea, Spice Berry, Checker-berry, Partridge-berry.

Other Names:
American mountain tea, boxberry, Canada tea, canterberry, checkerberry, chickenberry, chinks, creeping wintergreen, deerberry, drunkards, gingerberry, ground berry, ground tea, grouseberry, hillberry, mountain tea, one-berry, partridge berry, procalm, red pollom, spice berry, squaw vine, star berry, teaberry, spiceberry, spicy wintergreen, spring wintergreen, teaberry, wax cluster, youngsters,

While this plant is also known as partridge berry, that name more often refers to the ground cover Mitchella repens.

Habitat : Gaultheria procumbens is native to northeastern North America from Newfoundland west to southeastern Manitoba, and south to Alabama. It is a member of the Ericaceae (heath family).It grows in Sterile woods (poor acid soils) and clearings. Especially found beneath evergreen trees

Description:
Gaultheria procumbens is a small low-growing shrub, typically reaching 10–15 centimeters (3.9–5.9 in) tall. The leaves are evergreen, elliptic to ovate, 2–5 cm long and 1–2 cm broad, with a distinct oil of wintergreen scent. The flowers are bell-shaped, 5 mm long, white, borne solitary or in short racemes. The berry-like fruit is actually a dry capsule surrounded by fleshy calyx, 6–9 mm diameter.
click to see the pictures…….>..(01)....(1).....(2).…...(3).…....(4).….….(5).
It is a calcifuge, favoring acidic soil, in pine or hardwood forests, although it generally produces fruit only in sunnier areas. It often grows as part of the heath complex in an oak-heath forest.

G. procumbens spreads by means of long rhizomes, which are within the top 20–30 mm of soil. Because of the shallow nature of the rhizomes, it does not survive most forest fires, but a brief or mild fire may leave rhizomes intact, from which the plant can regrow even if the above-ground shrub was consumed.

This plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society‘s Award of Garden Merit

Edible Uses:Fruit are eaten raw or cooked. Pleasant but insipid. The fruit is not at all insipid, it has a very strong spicy taste of germolene, just like being in a hospital waiting room. Best after a frost, the fruit hangs onto the plant until spring if it is not eaten by birds etc. The fruits can also be used in pies, or made into jams etc. The fruit is up to 15mm in diameter. Young leaves – raw. A pleasant wayside nibble if used when very young. Dry and powdery according to our taste buds. A very agreeable tea is made from the fresh leaves. A stronger tea can be made by first fermenting the bright red leaves. ‘Oil of wintergreen’ can be distilled from this plant. It is used to flavour beer, sweets, chewing gum etc

For the leaves to yield significant amounts of their essential oil, they need to be fermented for at least 3 days.

Teaberry is also an ice cream flavor in regions where the plant grows. It also inspired the name of Clark’s Teaberry chewing gum.

Cultivation:
Prefers a moist but not boggy humus rich soil in shade or semi-shade. A peat and moisture loving species, it requires a lime-free soil. Succeeds in dry soils once it is well established and tolerates considerable drought. Grows well under the thin shade of deciduous shrubs or evergreens. A very cold-hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to about -35°c. Plants can become invasive when growing in good conditions. Some named forms have been developed for their ornamental value, ‘Dart’s Red Giant’ has specially large berries. All parts of the plant are aromatic, the bruised leaves having the scent of wintergreen. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.

Propagation:
The seed requires a period of cold stratification. Pre-chill for 4 – 10 weeks and then surface sow in a lime-free compost in a shady part of the greenhouse and keep the compost moist. The seed usually germinates well, usually within 1 – 2 months at 20°c, but the seedlings are liable to damp off. It is important to water them with care and to ensure that they get plenty of ventilation. Watering them with a garlic infusion can also help to prevent damping of. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are about 25mm tall and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer. The seedlings are susceptible to spring frosts so might need some protection for their first few years outdoors. The leaves remain very small for the first few years. Cuttings of half-ripe wood 3 – 6cm long, July/August in a frame in a shady position. They form roots in late summer or spring. A good percentage usually take. Division can be carried out at almost any time of the year, but works best in the spring just before new growth begins. Very easy, larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.

Constituents:
Constituents:  methyl salicylate, ketone, alcohol

Gaultheria procumbensis one of the richest sources of salicylic acid compared to other plants 1 including Salix spp. (willow), Betula spp. (birch), many poplars, and Viburnum prunifolium (black haw).

Medicinal Uses:
Analgesic; Antiinflammatory; Aromatic; Astringent; Carminative; Diuretic; Emmenagogue; Stimulant; Tonic.

Checkerberry leaves were widely used by the native North American Indians in the treatment of aches and pains and to help breathing whilst hunting or carrying heavy loads. An essential oil (known as ‘oil of wintergreen’) obtained from the leaves contains methyl salicylate, which is closely related to aspirin and is an effective anti-inflammatory. This species was at one time a major source of methyl salicylate, though this is now mainly synthesized. The leaves, and the oil, are analgesic, anti-inflammatory, aromatic, astringent, carminative, diuretic, emmenagogue, stimulant and tonic. An infusion of the leaves is used to relieve flatulence and colic. The plant, especially in the form of the essential oil, is most useful when applied externally in the treatment of acute cases of rheumatism, sciatica, myalgia, sprains, neuralgia and catarrh. The oil is sometimes used in the treatment of cellulitis, a bacterial infection that causes the skin to become inflamed. Some caution is advised, especially if the oil is used internally, since essential oil is toxic in excess, causing liver and kidney damage. It should not be prescribed for patients who are hypersensitive to salicylates (aspirin). The leaves can be gathered at any time from spring to early autumn, they are dried for use in infusions or distilled to produce the oil

The plant has been used by various tribes of Native Americans for medicinal purposes.

Other Uses:
Essential; Ground cover.

An essential oil is obtained from the leaves by steam distillation. In order to obtain the oil, the leaves need to be steeped for 12 – 24 hours in water. The essential oil is used as a food flavouring, medicinally (the original source of Wintergreen oil used as a liniment for aching muscles) and in perfumery and toothpastes. In large doses it can be toxic. A good ground-cover plant for shady positions though it requires weeding for the first year or so. Forming a dense tuft-like carpet, it roots as it spreads and should be spaced about 45cm apart each way.

Scented Plants:     Plant: CrushedAll parts of the plant are aromatic, the bruised leaves having the scent of wintergreen.

Known Hazards : The pure distilled essential oil is toxic in large doses

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaultheria_procumbens
http://digedibles.com/database/plants.php?Gaultheria+procumbens
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail148.php

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Herbs & Plants

Bilberry

Botanical Name :Vaccinium myrtillus
Family: Vacciniaceae/Ericaceae
Genus: Vaccinium
Species: V. myrtillus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales
Synonyms:Whortleberry. Black Whortles. Whinberry. Trackleberry. Huckleberry. Hurts. Bleaberry. Hurtleberry. Airelle. Vaccinium Frondosum. Blueberries.
Common Names:  bilberry, European blueberry, whortleberry, huckleberry

Parts Used:The ripe fruit. The leaves.

Habitat: Vaccinium myrtillus  is native to   Europe, including Britain, from Iceland south and east to Spain, Macedonia, the Caucasus and N. Asia . It grows in heaths, moors and woods on acid soils to 1250 metres.

Description:

Vaccinium myrtillus is a deciduous Shrub. It  grows abundantly in the heathy and mountainous districts, a small branched shrub, with wiry angular branches, rarely over a foot high, bearing globular wax-like flowers and black berries, which are covered when quite ripe with a delicate grey bloom, hence its name in Scotland, ‘Blea-berry,’ from an old North Countryword, ‘blae,’ meaning livid or bluish. The name Bilberry (by some old writers ‘Bulberry’) is derived from the Danish ‘bollebar,’ meaning dark berry. There is a variety with white fruits.
The leathery leaves (in form somewhat like those of the myrtle, hence its specific name) are at first rosy, then yellowish-green, and in autumn turn red and are very ornamental. They have been utilized to adulterate tea.

click to see the pictures >……....(1)……..(2)....(3)..(4)..….…………………

Bilberries flourish best on high grounds, being therefore more abundant in the north and west than in the south and east of England: they are absent from the low-lying Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, but on the Surrey hills, where they are called ‘Hurts,’ cover the ground for miles.

The fruit is globular, with a flat top, about the size of a black currant. When eaten raw, they have a slightly acid flavour. When cooked, however, with sugar, they make an excellent preserve. Gerard tells us that ‘the people of Cheshire do eate the black whortles in creame and milke as in these southern parts we eate strawberries.’ On the Continent, they are often employed for colouring wine.

Stewed with a little sugar and lemon peel in an open tart, Bilberries make a very enjoyable dish. Before the War, immense quantities of them were imported annually from Holland, Germany and Scandinavia. They were used mainly by pastrycooks and restaurant-keepers.

Species:
Bilberries include several closely related species of the Vaccinium genus, including:

*Vaccinium myrtillus L. (bilberry)
*Vaccinium uliginosum L. (bog bilberry, bog blueberry, bog whortleberry, bog huckleberry, northern bilberry, ground hurts)
*Vaccinium caespitosum Michx. (dwarf bilberry)
*Vaccinium deliciosum Piper (cascade bilberry)
*Vaccinium membranaceum (mountain bilberry, black mountain huckleberry, black huckleberry, twin-leaved huckleberry)
*Vaccinium ovalifolium (oval-leafed blueberry, oval-leaved bilberry, mountain blueberry, high-bush blueberry).

Edible Uses:
Owing to its rich juice, the Bilberry can be used with the least quantity of sugar in making jam: half a pound of sugar to the pound of berries is sufficient if the preserve is to be eaten soon. The minuteness of the seeds makes them more suitable for jam than currants.

Recipe for Bilberry Jam—
Put 3 lb. of clean, fresh fruit in a preserving pan with 1 1/2 lb. of sugar and about 1 cupful of water and bring to the boil. Then boil rapidly for 40 minutes. Apple juice made from windfalls and peelings, instead of the water, improves this jam. To make apple juice, cover the apples with water, stew down, and strain the juice through thick muslin. Blackberries may also be added to this mixture.

If the jam is to be kept long it must be bottled hot in screw-top jars, or, if tied down in the ordinary way, more sugar must be added.

Bilberry juice yields a clear, dark-blue or purple dye that has been much used in the dyeing of wool and the picking of berries for this purpose, as well as for food, constitutes a summer industry in the ‘Hurts’ districts. Owing to the shortage of the aniline dyestuffs formerly imported from Germany, Bilberries were eagerly bought up at high prices by dye manufacturers during the War, so that in 1917 and 1918 a large proportion of the Bilberry crop was not available for jam-making, as the dyers were scouring the country for the little blue-black berries.

Wild and cultivated harvesting:-
Bilberries are found in very acidic, nutrient-poor soils throughout the temperate and subarctic regions of the world. They are closely related to North American wild and cultivated blueberries and huckleberries in the genus Vaccinium. One characteristic of bilberries is that they produce single or paired berries on the bush instead of clusters, as the blueberry does.

The fruit is smaller than that of the blueberry but with a fuller taste. Bilberries are darker in colour, and usually appear near black with a slight shade of purple. While the blueberry’s fruit pulp is light green, the bilberry’s is red or purple, heavily staining the fingers and lips of consumers eating the raw fruit. The red juice is used by European dentists to show children how to brush their teeth correctly, as any improperly brushed areas will be heavily stained.

Bilberries are extremely difficult to grow and are thus seldom cultivated. Fruits are mostly collected from wild plants growing on publicly accessible lands, notably Finland, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, parts of England, Alpine countries, Carpathian Mountains in Ukraine, Belarus, Romania, Bulgaria, Poland and northern parts of Turkey and Russia. Note that in Austria, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland, it is an everyman’s right to collect bilberries, irrespective of land ownership, with the exception of private gardens. Bilberries can be picked by a berry-picking rake like lingonberries, but are more susceptible to damage. Bilberries are softer and juicier than blueberries, making them difficult to transport. Because of these factors, the bilberry is only available fresh in gourmet stores, where they can cost up to 25 Euro per pound. Frozen bilberries however are available all year round in most of Europe.

In Finland, bilberries are collected from forests. They are eaten fresh or can be made in different jams, and dishes. The famous one is Mustikkapiirakka, bilberry pie

In Ireland, the fruit is known as fraughan, from the Irish fraochán, and is traditionally gathered on the last Sunday in July, known as Fraughan Sunday.

Bilberries were also collected at Lughnassadh in August, the first traditional harvest festival of the year, as celebrated by Gaelic people. The crop of bilberries was said to indicate how well the rest of the crops would fare in their harvests later in the year.

The fruits can be eaten fresh or made into jams, fools, juices or pies. In France and in Italy, they are used as a base for liqueurs and are a popular flavoring for sorbets and other desserts. In Brittany, they are often used as a flavoring for crêpes, and in the Vosges and the Massif Central bilberry tart (tarte aux myrtilles) is a traditional dessert.

Constituents:
Quinic acid is found in the leaves, and a little tannin. Triturated with water they yield a liquid which, filtered and assayed with sulphate of iron, becomes a beautiful green, first of all transparent, then giving a green precipitate.

The fruits contain sugar, etc. Bilberries contains approximately 0.5% by volume of the anthocyanosides, they also contain the vitamins B1 and C, pro-vitamin A, at least 7% by volume is composed of tannins, and assorted plant acids are also seen. The tonic effect of the anthocyanosides on the blood vessels is the beneficial to the human body.

Medicinal Uses:
Often associated with improvement of night vision, bilberries are mentioned in a popular story of World War II RAF pilots consuming bilberry jam to sharpen vision for night missions. However, a recent study by the U.S. Navy found no such effect and origins of the RAF story cannot be found.

Although the effect of bilberry on night vision is controversial, laboratory studies have provided preliminary evidence that bilberry consumption may inhibit or reverse eye disorders such as macular degeneration. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial on 50 patients suffering from senile cataract showed that a combination of bilberry extract and vitamin E administered for 4 months was able to stop lens opacity progress in 97% of the cataracts.

As a deep purple fruit, bilberries contain high levels of anthocyanin pigments, which have been linked experimentally to lowered risk for several diseases, such as those of the heart and cardiovascular system, eyes, diabetes and cancer.

In folk medicine, bilberry leaves were used to treat gastrointestinal ailments, applied topically, or made into infusions. Bilberries are also used as a tonic to prevent some infections and skin diseases.

•Historically, bilberry fruit was used to treat diarrhea, scurvy, and other conditions.

•Today, the fruit is used to treat diarrhea, menstrual cramps, eye problems, varicose veins, venous insufficiency (a condition in which the veins do not efficiently return blood from the legs to the heart), and other circulatory problems.

•Bilberry leaf is used for entirely different conditions, including diabetes.

The leaves can be used in the same way as those of UvaUrsi. The fruits are astringent, and are especially valuable in diarrhoea and dysentery, in the form of syrup. The ancients used them largely, and Dioscorides spoke highly of them. They are also used for discharges, and as antigalactagogues. A decoction of the leaves or bark of the root may be used as a local application to ulcers, and in ulceration of the mouth and throat.

The fruit is helpful in scurvy and urinary complaints, and when bruised with the roots and steeped in gin has diuretic properties valuable in dropsy and gravel. A tea made of the leaves is also a remedy for diabetes if taken for a prolonged period.
You may click to learn more about medical benefit of bilberries :

Other Uses …..Dye; Ink…….A green dye is obtained from the leaves and the fruit and is used to colour fabrics. A blue or black dye is obtained from the fruit. This can be used as an ink.
Known Hazards: High tannin content may cause digestive disorders – avoid prolonged use or high doses. Avoid in pregnancy. Avoid if on anticoagulant therapy (e.g. warfarin)

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_bilberry.htm
http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/bilber37.html
http://www.elements4health.com/bilberry-health-benefits.html

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Vaccinium+myrtillus

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Herbs & Plants

Alpine Azalea

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Botanical Name :Loiseleuria  procumbens
Family: Ericaceae (er-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Loiseleuria (loy-sel-LEW-ree-uh) (Info)
Species: procumbens (pro-KUM-benz) (Info)
Synonym:Kalmia procumbens,Loiseleuria procumbens (L.) Desv. AZPR Azalea procumbens L. , CHPR8 Chamaecistus procumbens (L.) Kuntze , KAPR Kalmia procumbens (L.) Gift, Kron & P.F. Stevens ex Galasso, Banfi & F. Conti.

Kingdom :  Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class : Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass : Dilleniidae
Order: Ericales
Species: Loiseleuria procumbens (L.) Desv. – alpine azalea

Habitat : Alpines and Rock Gardens Shrubs.Northern hemisphere distribution: circumpolar; Greenland, Canada, United States, Eurasia. Alaska, Yukon, Continental Northwest Territories, Nunavut Islands, Continental Nunavut, Northern Québec. Low arctic, or alpine. Range in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago limited. Arctic Islands: Baffin. Occasional to common in dry stony heath on acid; dry bouldery slopes in Precambium bedrock and till; Precambium rock: growing in dry gravel patches on rocky slopes with Arctostaphylos (CAN 541759).

Substrates: tundra, slopes, dry meadows; dry; acidic; rocks, gravel, till; with low organic content.

Description: The alpine azalea is a matted or trailing evergreen Perennial shrub with bell shaped flowers that are white or pink.Whole plant hairless.  Calyx and young stems red.It blooms during Late Spring/Early Summer.It’s Foliage is Evergreen, Smooth-Textured, Shiny/Glossy-Textured, Good Fall Color. It often forms a ground mat on well drained rocky sites in arctic and alpine tundra. It ranges throughout Alaska except for on the northern coastal plain.
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Dwarf shrubs, or low shrubs; 5–10 cm high; semi-prostrate, much branched, with small leathery leaves. Aerial stems prostrate; glabrous (sometimes with small trapped sand or soil particles that should not be mistaken for glands). Leaves distributed along the stems; alternate; evergreen and marcescent. Stipules absent. Petioles present; 1–2.5 mm long (often flattened against the stem and easily overlooked); glabrous (abaxial surface), or hairy (adaxial surface); pubescent (if applicable). Petioles hairs appressed, or spreading (conspicuous as tufts in the axils of new leaves); curved. Leaf blade bases truncate, or rounded. Blades 4–8 mm long; 1–2.5 mm wide. Blades length-width ratio 3, or 4. Blades leathery; elliptic; involute; veins pinnate (with mid-vein impressed into the adaxial surface), or appearing single-veined. Blades adaxial surface without sessile glands; glabrous (with a thick epidermis). Blades abaxial surface hairy. Blades abaxial surface hairs very dense. Blades abaxial surface tomentose. Blades abaxial surface hairs white, or translucent hairs; curved; appressed, or spreading. Blade margins entire. Leaf apices rounded.


Other details
:: This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds, Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Healing Qualities – helps us achieve unconditional self-acceptance through the release of  self-doubt; opens our hearts to the spirit of love; teaches us compassion through understanding.

Resources:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Loiseleuria_procumbens
http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/97806/
http://www.mun.ca/biology/delta/arcticf/_ca/www/erlopr.htm
http://www.nawwal.org/~mrgoff/pictures/picpgs/69813a.html
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=lopr
http://www.plant-identification.co.uk/skye/ericaceae/loiseleuria-procumbens.htm
http://www.essencesonline.com/Alaskan_flowerkit.htm

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Herbs & Plants

Bilberry

Bilberry fruitImage via Wikipedia

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Botanical Name :Vaccinium myrtillus
Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Vaccinium
Species: V. myrtillus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales

Synonyms:-–Whortleberry. Black Whortles. Whinberry. Trackleberry. Huckleberry. Hurts. Bleaberry. Hurtleberry. Airelle. Vaccinium Frondosum. Blueberries.

Other names: Vaccinium myrtillus, European blueberry, huckleberry, whortleberry, burren myrtle

Parts Used:—The ripe fruit. The leaves.

Habitat:-
–Europe, including Britain, Siberia and Barbary.

Bilberry is a name given to several species of low-growing shrubs in the genus Vaccinium (family Ericaceae) that bear tasty fruits. The species most often referred to is Vaccinium myrtillus L., also known as blaeberry, whortleberry, whinberry (or winberry), myrtle blueberry, fraughan, and probably other names regionally. They were called black-hearts in 19th century southern England, according to Thomas Hardy‘s 1878 novel, The Return of the Native, (pg. 311, Oxford World’s Classics edition).
Bilberry fruitThe word bilberry is also sometimes used in the common names of other species of the genus, including Vaccinium uliginosum L. (bog bilberry, bog blueberry, bog whortleberry, bog huckleberry, northern bilberry), Vaccinium caespitosum Michx. (dwarf bilberry), Vaccinium deliciosum Piper (Cascade bilberry), Vaccinium membranaceum (mountain bilberry, black mountain huckleberry, black huckleberry, twin-leaved huckleberry), and Vaccinium ovalifolium (oval-leafed blueberry, oval-leaved bilberry, mountain blueberry, high-bush blueberry).

Bilberries are found in damp, acidic soils throughout the temperate and subarctic regions of the world. They are closely related to North American wild and cultivated blueberries and huckleberries in the genus Vaccinium. The easiest way to distinguish the bilberry is that it produces single or pairs of berries on the bush instead of clusters like the blueberry. Bilberry is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species – see list of Lepidoptera which feed on Vaccinium.

Bilberries are rarely cultivated but fruits are sometimes collected from wild plants growing on publicly accessible lands, notably in Fennoscandia, Scotland, Ireland and Poland. Notice that in Fennoscandia, it is an everyman’s right to collect bilberries, irrespective of land ownership. In Ireland the fruit is known as fraughan in English, from the Irish fraochán, and is traditionally gathered on the last Sunday in July, known as Fraughan Sunday.

click to see the pictures..>..(01)....(1).…...(2)..…...(.3)..….(4)…..

Confusion between bilberries and American blueberries:
Since many people refer to “blueberries”, no matter if they mean the bilberry (European blueberry) Vaccinium myrtillus or the American blueberries, there is a lot of confusion about the two closely similar fruits. One can distinguish bilberries from their American counterpart by the following differences:
*bilberries have dark red, strongly fragrant flesh and red juice that turns blue in basic environments: blueberries have white or translucent, mildly fragrant flesh

*bilberries grow on low bushes with solitary fruits, and are found wild in heathland in the Northern Hemisphere; blueberries grow on large bushes with the fruit in bunches
bilberries are wild plants while blueberries are cultivated and widely available commercially

*cultivated blueberries often come from hybrid cultivars, developed about 100 years ago by agricultural specialists, most prominently by Elizabeth Coleman White, to meet growing consumer demand; since they are bigger, the bushes grow taller, and are easier to harvest

*bilberry fruit will stain hands, teeth and tongue deep blue or purple while eating; it was used as a dye for food and clothes: blueberries have flesh of a less intense colour, thus less staining

*when cooked as a dessert, bilberries have a much stronger, more tart flavour and a rougher texture than blueberries

Adding to the confusion is the fact there are also wild American blueberry varieties, sold in stores mainly in the USA and Canada. These are uncommon outside of Northern America. Even more confusion is due to the huckleberry name, which originates from English dialectal names ‘hurtleberry’ and ‘whortleberry’ for the bilberry.

Edible Uses:   The fruits can be eaten fresh, but are more usually made into jams, fools, juices or pies. In France they are used as a base for liqueurs and are a popular flavouring for sorbets and other desserts. In Brittany they are often used as a flavouring for crêpes, and in the Vosges and the Massif Central bilberry tart (tarte aux myrtilles) is the most traditional dessert.

Constituents:—Quinic acid is found in the leaves, and a little tannin. Triturated with water they yield a liquid which, filtered and assayed with sulphate of iron, becomes a beautiful green, first of all transparent, then giving a green precipitate. The fruits contain sugar, etc.

Mrdicinal Uses:—The leaves can be used in the same way as those of UvaUrsi. The fruits are astringent, and are especially valuable in diarrhoea and dysentery, in the form of syrup. The ancients used them largely, and Dioscorides spoke highly of them. They are also used for discharges, and as antigalactagogues. A decoction of the leaves or bark of the root may be used as a local application to ulcers, and in ulceration of the mouth and throat.

The fruit is helpful in scurvy and urinary complaints, and when bruised with the roots and steeped in gin has diuretic properties valuable in dropsy and gravel. A tea made of the leaves is also a remedy for diabetes if taken for a prolonged period.

Bilberry is often said to improve night vision, and the story is told of RAF pilots in World War II using bilberry for that purpose. A recent study by the U.S. Navy found no effect, however, and the origins of the RAF story are unclear; it does not appear to be well known in the RAF itself.. Studies have shown that bilberry can reduce or reverse effects of degenerative eye disorders such as macular degeneration. The overall therapeutic use of bilberry is still clinically unproven.

Bilberry is primarily used for eye conditions and to strengthen blood vessels. During World War II, British Royal Air Force pilots reportedly found that eating bilberry jam just before a mission improved their night vision which prompted researchers to investigate bilberry’s properties.

Bilberry is also used for glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and cataracts.

The anthocyanins in bilberry may strengthen the walls of blood vessels, reduce inflammation and stabilize tissues containing collagen, such as cartilage, tendons and ligaments. Grape seed contains similar substances, however, bilberry’s anthocyanins are thought to have particular benefits for the eye.

Because bilberry is thought to strengthen blood vessels, it’s sometimes taken orally for varicose veins and hemorrhoids.
It may have other beneficial effects on capillaries due to the strong antioxidant properties of its anthocyanidin flavonoids.

The leaves have historically been used to treat gastrointestinal ailments, applied topically or made into infusions. The effects claimed have not been reproduced in the laboratory, however.

Bilberries were also collected at Lughnassadh, the first traditional harvest festival of the year, as celebrated by the Gaelic people. The crop of billberries was said to indicate how well the rest of the crops would fare in their harvests later in the year.

Click to learn more about Bilberry

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Resources   : en.wikipedia.org

botanical.com/botanical

http://altmedicine.about.com/cs/herbsvitaminsa1/a/Bilberry.htm

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