Bilberry

Latin name: Vaccinium myrtillus

Family: Ericaceae

If you'd like the power to see in the dark, you might want to try eating the edible fruits of the bilberry which are rumoured to be good for night vision!

The bilberry, which is sometimes known as the 'whortleberry', 'blaeberry', 'whinberry' or 'wimberry' can grow to 50cm tall and has acutely angled stems with pinkish-red flowers and bluish-black fruits. It loses its leaves in the winter.

There are 450 species of Vaccinium worldwide. Many of these are found growing in Malaysia but six species, including the bilberry are native to the UK. Here it is commonly found on heathland and moorland or in woodland habitats with acidic soils. Although it is a common plant, it is absent from much of central and eastern England.

In the Yorkshire Dales National Park, bilberry is commonly seen on the moorland and heathland which occupies the high ground throughout the Park. Good examples of its preferred habitat can be found on Whernside.

North Yorkshire has produced a traditional bilberry dessert, known as the 'mucky-mouth' pie, in which bilberries are baked in a Yorkshire pudding batter. Try it and you’ll see why it gets the name 'mucky-mouth' as the deep juices of the bilberries leave a tell-tale sign that you’ve been eating it!

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Still summer’s song beats in my blood Alan Hartley

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