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Blueberries and blueberries are the same thing? The berries, which come in different sizes and shades of blue, inspire with their aroma in summer and autumn and very few people wonder if there is a difference between the names or if this is the same plant. The term blueberry is often used together with blueberry and the transitions are fluid depending on habit. There is much more behind the terms.

Bilberry - Blueberry

Botanical name enlightens

First of all: Yes, blueberries differ from blueberries, even if not at first glance. Few people can really tell the difference between bilberries and blueberries, but both belong to the same genus. Vaccinium is a genus within the heather family (bot. Ericaceae) and the up to 500 species are mostly found in the northern hemisphere. Within this genus there are also cranberries (bot. Vaccinium vitis-idae) and cranberries (bot. Vaccinium oxycoccos). The two species, which are often grouped together into one berry, are called in Latin as follows:

  • Vaccinium corymbosum (American bilberry)
  • Vaccinium myrtillus (wild blueberry)

As you can see, the two berries are different from each other. But which is the blueberry and which is the blueberry? The real blueberry is Vaccinium myrtillus, i.e. the forest blueberry, which is originally from Europe and which in most cases you will find wild. Vaccinium corymbosum, on the other hand, is never called that in Europe, but always blueberries. Another term is cultivated blueberry, which makes the benefits of this type even more clear. In fact, it is cultivated for its properties, and to a large extent, while forest blueberries are mainly cultivated by enthusiasts or occur wild.

tip: In the US, the species are also known by different terms, but are often found grouped together under the easy-to-understand “blueberry”. The name "bilberry", on the other hand, describes the European blueberries and, above all, the Vaccinium myrtillus, which once again illustrates the difference between the two species.

cultivated blueberry

The cultivated blueberry is what in the real sense blueberry is called. At the same time, this species is the sweet, blue berries that you can buy in the supermarket or at the weekly market. Cultivated blueberries actually come from North America and have been used there for a similar length of time as forest blueberries in Europe. The big difference to this one: They don't dye. Cultivated blueberries are not blue on the inside and even the skin contains few coloring agents. Because of this, you can easily buy “blueberries” in the store without fear of walking around with a tongue stained blue. The following additional features at a glance:

  • Subshrub up to four meters high
  • Depending on the variety, berries are 1-3 centimeters in diameter
  • fresh taste, depending on the variety
  • Colors of the berries very different
  • these range from light pink to a deep black-blue

Due to the original distribution area, the majority of all varieties of blueberries come from the USA. New varieties are cultivated here every year, which you can easily plant in the garden.

tip: In addition to the cultivated blueberry, there are other types of blueberries that come from North America. However, their cultivation is primarily commercial used. We are talking about the huckleberries (bot. Vaccinium ovatum), which are reminiscent of very dark blueberries in appearance and of course immediately reminiscent of the novel character of the American author Mark Twain.

forest blueberry

If you are walking in the local woods and you come across a blueberry bush, chances are it is blueberries, Vaccinium myrtillus. The species occurs throughout Europe, which can be recognized by names such as the French "myrtille" or the Italian "mirtillo". They are significantly smaller than the cultivated varieties of blueberries and even the few variants of wild blueberries have one thing in common: the taste. Forest blueberries always taste the same in terms of their actual aroma. The only differences in flavor are revealed by the soil the shrub is grown in. The typical features are:

  • Dwarf shrub up to 60 centimeters high
  • can live up to 30 years
  • Foliage turns red in autumn
  • is a deciduous plant
  • Berries have a maximum diameter of about one centimeter
  • are dark blue
  • may have blue-grey rings
  • Leaves slightly poisonous

What is unique about wild blueberries is their intensely aromatic taste. Compared to the American blueberry, the taste is significantly stronger and more nuanced. For this reason, it is ideal for making jam and compote.

blueberries in the garden

Due to the above differences between the two types, you will surely have noticed which of these are more popular for growing in your own garden. Compared to forest blueberries, cultivated blueberries are cultivated on a large scale and there are numerous varieties on the market that are suitable for every garden. Forest blueberries are also offered for your own cultivation, but are not really popular due to the ingredients they contain, unless you want to use them for coloring. In addition, there are not nearly as many varieties as there are with blueberries, which makes the selection not really interesting. Nevertheless, there are gardeners who prefer the native plant.

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