Botany

Blueberry Plants Identification and uses



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Blueberries are a popular summer treat. They are endemic to North America, and are often used to complement garden landscapes. The berries and flowers add an accent and fall colors of this plant are beautiful. In the past, Native peoples of North America used blueberry plant parts both for nourishment and medicinal purposes.

Range:
Native only to North America, but introduced to South America for commercial production during the winter months.

Description:
Low, often matted shrubs with thin, oval leaves, 1-3 cm long. Whitish to pink flowers, in the shape of a urn. 0.5 to 0.8 cm berries black to red in colour. I have come across species of the blueberry plant that produce RED berries. See images below for further identification assistance.

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http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/2/28/Maturing_blueberry.jpg/180px-Maturing_blueberry.jpg

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/15/Blueberries.jpg/240px-Blueberries.jpg

Food Uses:
These sweet, juicy berries can be eaten fresh from the bush. Wild blueberries make a great quick snack as a trail munch. Blueberries can also be made into jams, preserves, "Fruit to Go's", syrups, jellies and juices. Some wineries have even been adventurous to make blueberry wine. Blueberries make a great addition to pancakes, waffles and the like. Since blueberries grow so close to the ground, they can be difficult to collect, but they still top the charts for flavour among these wild berry species.

Wikipedia Commons offers the following information regarding recent blueberry trends: "Blueberries are sold fresh or processed as individually quick frozen (IQF) fruit, pure, juice, dried or infused berries which in turn may be used in a variety of consumer goods such as jellies, jams, pies, muffins, snack foods and cereals. Blueberry jam is made from blueberries, sugar, water and fruit pectin. Usually made from wild blueberries, premium blueberry jam is common in Maine, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia. Beginning around 2003, pure or blended blueberry juice has become a popular product in Canada and the United States."

Medicinal uses:
The delicious berries of the blueberry plant are very high in vitamin C. Blueberry roots can be boiled to make medicinal teas to relieve diarrhoea, gargled to cure sore throats.

Other Uses:
Blueberries can be used to dye clothes a navy blue colour. They are endemic to North America, and are often used to complement garden landscapes. The berries and flowers add an accent and fall colors of this plant are beautiful.

Warnings:
Blueberry leaves contain tannins, so the leaves should not be eaten for extended time periods. Do not take blueberry products if you are sensitive to other wild plant compounds. Remember that this article is no way is intended to offer medical advice; it is merely an interesting resource for those who would like to become more familiar with some useful plants.

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