Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)

(Vaccinium myrtillus)

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Our native bilberry is a sweet little shrub in more ways than one.

The bilberry has many local variations on the name, (round here its known as the whinberry) a testament to its long and constant use as a wild food.  

Not growing more than 0.5 m high it is at home in either woodland or open moor so it can cope with anything the elements throw at it. Tolerant of deep shade, it will fruit better in the sun, and although this is a plant that desperately needs an acid soil, we find ours do very well in pots of lime free compost made up of composted bark and loam, indeed, they seem to fruit better than the plants in the local woods, though they will benefit from the addition of some mycorrhizal fungi, (available from most garden centers). 

The berries are like miniature blueberries, to whom they are closely related and so can be used in similar ways. They do make a very good muffin and have been much used for tarts and homemade wines over the years.
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