Blueberry historyBlueberries, also known as bilberries, whortleberries and hurtleberries, are named for their velvety, deep-blue color, of course. These luscious berries are one of the few fruits native to North America.
Native Americans used the berries, leaves, and roots for medicinal purposes. The fruit was used as a fabric dye and combined with meat into a nutritious dried jerky.
The shrub is of the genus Vaccinium, from the Latin vacca for cow since cows love them, a fact first noted by Captain James Cook in the late 1700s.
Blueberries are often confused with huckleberries, which are of the Gaylussacia genus.
Blueberries used to be picked by hand until the invention of the blueberry rake by Abijah Tabbutt of Maine in 1822, so it's no wonder that Maine's state berry is the blueberry.
The most popular variety of blueberry is Vaccinium corymbosum, known as the "highbush" blueberry. The wild "lowbush" varieties are a favorite of those who like to pick their own in the wilds.
More about Blueberries: Blueberry Selection and Storage
Blueberry Cooking Tips, Equivalents, and Substitutions
Blueberries and Health
Photo © 2006 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.
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