Monday, August 03, 2009

Vaccinium uliginosum

Aqua Mose at Silkeborg , a place with lots of Bog-Bilberry, Bilberry, Cowberry and Cranberry. Furthermore the aromatic Sweet Gale and many other exciting plants.

Bog-bilberry is native to Europe and North America, where it grows on acidic soils on heathland, moorland, tundra and in the understory of coniferous forests. It grows together with i.e. bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus), heather, sandsedge, Scotch pine and Lingonberry (Cowberry) . Its a small deciduous shrub growing to 10-75 cm tall, rarely 1 m tall with brown stems (unlike the green stems of the closely related Bilberry). The flowers in mid spring are pale pink , and the fruit is a dark blue-black berry with a white flesh, edible but often with an insipid or watery taste.

A berry-picker in Aqua Mose

The Danish name for Bog-bilberry is Mosebølle, but in the old days it had various names referring to it as a dangerous berry. It was not considered fine and valuable as bilberry. But the two berries are easy to confuse. In some regions in Denmark people actually did not distinguish, but in other regions bog-bilberry was considered poisonous and causing headache. In Jutland it was slightingly called Hundebær (dog-berry).

In Jutland, during the 1800s and the beginning of the 1900s bog-bilberry was sold to tourists , dressed as bilberry. At that time the tourists in Jutland mainly came from Copenhagen for their luxurious holidays on the attractive seaside hotels and summer resorts. They were easy to cheat, and bog-bilberry was sold in large amounts at sky-high prices. Even today bog-bilberry is sold in some rural places in North Jutland to unsuspecting tourists, who believe them to be the delicious and healthy bilberry.

Some say it is easy to know bilberry from bog-bilberry; bilberry is delicious, bog-bilberry has an insipid or watery taste. Others say that the taste only separates a trifle. This must be a matter of taste!

stig bachmann nielsen, Naturplan foto

stig bachmann nielsen, Naturplan foto

Bog-bilberry has brown stems, bilberry has green stems with edges.
Bog-bilberry has often an insipid/watery taste, bilberry has a delicious taste.
Bog-bilberry is faintly poisonous, bilberry is one of the healthiest berries of all.

Bilberry colours your teeth!
The autumn leaves of Bilberry have the prettiest autumn colours in yellow, orange and red.

See Liber Herbarum as to the faintly poisonous bog-bilberry. Maybe you don't get sick by eating a small portion, but moderation in all things!

photo Aqua Mose 1. august 2009: grethe bachmann

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