Echoes of the Garden

The Leech's Knowing

A Cooling Blue Relief

While the blueberry and the bilberry are used interchangeably in the kitchen, the bilberry has a definite edge in the pharmacy. The most obvious fieldmark (an easily recognizable characteristic identifying a plant or animal positively) between the two is that the flesh of a blueberry is green and the flesh of a bilberry is blue or purple. This indicates a much higher amount of anthocyanins in the bilberry. This is a good thing for your body.

This site has a good description of the differences.

There was apparently some disagreement as to what plant was actually Vaccinium in Gerard's day, but his description of the plant he deems to be the actual “wortleberry” matches ours.

Public domain

He gives us these uses for it:

They take away the heate of burning agues,and also the drought,they quench the furious heate of choler, they stay vomiting, restore an appetite to meate which was lost by reason of cholericke and corrupt humors,and are good against the pestilent diseases.

The juyce of these also is boyled till it be thicke,with suger added that it may be kept, which is good for all things that the berries are,yea,and far better

By Quadell (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Culpepper tells us:

It is a pity they are used no more in physic than they are. The black bilberries are good in hot agues, and to cool the heat of the liver and stomach; they do somewhat bind the belly, and stay vomiting and loathings; the juice of the berries made in a syrup, or the pulp made into a conserve with sugar, is good for the purposes aforesaid, as also for an old cough, or an ulcer in the lungs, or other diseases therein



Both of these Gentles recommend making a conserve, or jam, with the berries for best use. Here  is a nice video showing an easy way to make it.

Today's herbalists' main use of the herb seems to be for strengthening the eyes and the blood vessels. The University of Maryland Medical Center's site has solid researched information and the Herb Wisdom site  has a good bit of information, as well.

Have I forgotten anything? Do you use blueberry or bilberry for your health? Which one and why? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for stopping by!

Tomorrow I'll look into what other uses there might be for our Noble Interest.

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The information and recipes contained on this site are presented for intellectual and historical interest only. If you are looking for medical advice, please consult with a licensed physician. If you choose to try any recipe for the sake of adventure or curiosity, you do so at your own risk.

About Me

About Me

My interest in plants started young. While most of my friends were playing with Barbie or dreaming of horses, I was out in the fields of our farm creating imaginary villages and caching collected seeds, roots and herbs against winter need. When I discovered the library and field guides, I realized that I had found my passion- the interaction between plants and people. While my caching habits have switched to saving more useful plants, some things don’t change. I still …
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