An encyclopedia of edible fruits of the world.



WHORTELBERRY_Vaccinium uliginosum

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Vaccinium uliginosum)

 A plant of whortelberry

Family: Ericaceae

Other names: Bog billberry, Bog Whortelberry

Whortelberry is a plant from very cold areas in the temperate or even low altitude arctic regions of the Norhern Hemisphere.  It is found in such geographical areas of Europe, North America and Asia.


A small deciduous shrub, upto 10-75 cm tall, rarely 1 m with brown stems, twigs terete, puberulous to glabrous.

            Leaves scattered; petiole ca. 2 mm, puberulous; leaf blade obovate or elliptic to oblong, 1–3 × 0.6–1.5 cm, papery, abaxially glaucous, puberulous, adaxially subglabrous, secondary veins 3–5 pairs, fine veins evident especially abaxially, base cuneate or broadly cuneate, margin plane, entire, with 1 basal gland per side, apex rounded, sometimes retuse.

Leaves and flowers of whortelberry

            Inflorescences fasciculate, at end of shoot, 1–3-flowered; bracts caducous, 1.5–2.5 mm. Pedicel ca. 5 mm, glabrous; flowers 4- or 5-merous. hypanthium ca. 0.8 mm, glabrous; calyx lobes 4 or 5, triangular-ovate, ca. 1 mm, corolla greenish white, broadly urceolate, ca. 5 mm, glabrous; lobes triangular, ca. 1 mm, filaments ca. 1 mm, glabrous; anthers ca. 1.5 mm, thecae with 2 spurs, tubules slightly shorter than thecae

            Fruit is a dark blue-black 4 or 5 loculed berry, subglobose or ellipsoidal,  with a bloom, 5-8 mm wide, flesh, edible and sweet when ripe in late summer.


The berries are edible and juicy.  These taste sweet and are believed to be nutritious.  Some say that whotelberry fruits can cause headache if eaten in large quantity.

Whortelberry fruits

            The fruit can also be dried and used like raisins.

            The leaves are also dried and used as tea in some areas. 

            Whortelberry leaves are reported to be antiseptic, astringent, carminative, hypnotic and hypoglycaemic. An infusion of the leaves and sugar is given to a mother a few days after childbirth in order to help her regain her strength.


This fruit is mostly collected from the wild and not cultivated.  Bot it does not seem toi be difficult to bring it under cultivation.

            Whortelberry plant seem to require a moist or wet lime free soil, preferring one that is rich in peat or a light loamy soil with added leaf-mould and sunny locations.

            New plants can be raised from seed which require moist stratification fot 6-8 weeks.  Asexual propagation is feasible by layering and cuttings.

LINGONBERRY_Vaccinium vitis-idea

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Vaccinium vitis-idea)

Lingonberry bushe in forest

Other names: Cowberry, foxberry, lowbush cranbaerry, mountain cranberry, partridgeberry, redberry.

Family: Ericaceae

Lingonberry is one of those fruits which are still not under commercial cultivation in spite of the fact their wide use.  The fruits are collected from the wild growing bushes and traded for use.  Lingonberry is a fruit of significant commercial importance.

Foliage and flowers of lingonberry

            It is considered to be a native of North America and is a common fruit species found in the Northern forests. 

            Lingonberry is widely used not only in North America but in Northern Europe too.


A short (less than 7 inches, or 18 cm, tall) and have single blooms. The leaves are ovate, 0.4 to 1 inch (1 to 2.5 cm) long, alternate, leathery, and evergreen. They have a dark green upper surface and a light green under-surface.

            Flowers are borne singly or in clusters in terminal racemes.  Flowers have four locules per ovary, four sepals, a bell-shaped corolla and eight stamens with nonspurred anthers. Pollen is borne in tetrads shed through a terminal pore in the anther. The ovary is inferior.

Fruits of Lingonberry

            Fruit a globose berry, carmine in color when ripe, up to 1 cm in diameter, 170 to 450 mg in weight, strong flavoured and tart.


Lingonberries are used fresh or frozen, incorporated into sauces, syrups, jellies, fillings, as well as drinks.  Lingonberries have a one of a kind taste,  that puts them in a class by themselves, and will complement any meal.

Preserve fruits of Lingonberry

            The fruits are considered to be nutritious and full of anti oxidants.


Lingonberry is still collercted from the wild all over the world and no where it is cultivated as an orchard crop.  Efforts are, however, going on every country for the standardization of cultivation techniques for this fruit.  Many researtchers/fruit growers rate it as a potential new crop. Khajru_phoenix_sylvestris

LOW BUSH BLUEBERRY_Vaccinium salicinum

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Vaccinium salicinum)

A plant of low bush blueberry

Family: Ericaceae

Synonyms:  Vaccinium uliginosum salicinum

Low bush blueberry is one of very hardy fruits from North America.  It can be seen growing wild on peat bogs, rocky barrens and tundra from Alaska to New York.  It bears small edible fruits which are quite palatable.


A small deciduous shrub.

Flowers of low bush blueberry

Flowers hermaphrodite, pollinated by insects.


The fruits are eaten fresh as well as cooked.  These can also be dried and kept for use later during other months of the year.


Low bush blueberry is a very hardy fruit and it can grow in the coldest areas of the world.

Fruits and foliage of low bush blueberry

            The plant prefers light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant also has a preference for acid soils and can grow in very acid soil. It requires moist soil.      

            Low bush blueberry can grow both in open areas as well as in semi-shaded light woodlands.

New plants can be raised from seed.  For optimum germination, the seeds have to be cold stratified atleast for a period of three months.

Wild plants of low bush blueberry

            For asexual propagation, cuttings of half-ripe wood can be used.  These cuttings should be 5 – 8cm long and preferably with a heel.  The cuttings should be made in August and planted in hot frames. Layering in late summer or early autumn has also been suggested for asexual propagation..

KAMCHATKA BILBERRY_Vaccinium praestans

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Vaccinium praestans)

A plant of kamchatka bilberry 

Family: Ericaceae

Other names: Iwa tsusuji, krasnika

Kamchatka bilberry seems to come from East Russia which is known for its cold and harsh climate.  It is known more as a garden plant and not as a fruit tree though it bears edible fruits which are eaten by local people.


A herbaceous slow growing perennial shrub, growing upto 20 cm.

Flowers of kamchatka bilberry

            Leaves obovate or orbicular, narrowed to the base, 2-6 cm long, 2.5-3.5 cm wide, thin, but stiff, serrulate on the edge. flowers with pink campanulate corolla 5-6 mm in length.

           Flowers pinkish white, hermaphrodite, corolla campanulate, 5-6 mm long; pollination by bees.

           Fruit a berry, globose, 8 – 10 mm in diameter, bright red, shiny, juicy, sweet-sour.      


The fruits are edible and taste like a strawberry.  These are eaten raw and also made into a jam or jelly.  

            The fruits are a good source of vitamin C containing 70 – 100 mg per 100 g pulp.

Ripe fruits of kamchatka bilberry

            In Russia, the juice of kamchatka bilberry fruits is believed to help tcure colds.   It is also said to improve digestion and possess tonic properties, cure hypertension as an effective means of reducing blood pressure.


Kamachatka bilberry is a very cold hardy plant.  It prefers acidic soils which should be well drained.  It can also grow in semi-shady locations.

            New plants are raised from seed as well as cuttings.  The seeds are, however, very slow to germinate and can sometimes take upto one year to come out.  The cuttings are also not easy to root.

            In gardens, kamchatka bilberry is good for planting in a rockery.

BLUE HUCKLEBERRY_Vaccinium ovalifolium

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Vaccinium ovalifolium)

A portion of blue a huckleberry bush

Family:  Ericaceae

Other names: Oval leaf blueberry

Blue huckleberry is also a fruit of North America.  Its plants can be seen growing wild in coastal forests throughout southern Alaska and the Aleutian Islands.


It is a spreading shrub which may grow to 5 feet (1.5 m) tall. It has pink 14 in (0.64 cm) urn-shaped flowers

           Blue huckleberry is more or less like dwarf blueberry (Vaccinium caespitosum) so far as the fruits are concerned.  This species, however, differs in size.  The shrubs of this fruit are from 60 – 120 cm in height.

A fruit of blue huckleberry

            Blue huckleberry stems are angled in cross section.  The flower stalks are drooping.

            Fruits edible, pleasantly sweet, 10 mm in diameter, mostly borne singly.


The fruits have a pleasant sweet flavour.  These are eaten fresh.  These are also used is used in jams and jellies.  The fruits are reported to be a good source of vitamin C.   The fruit can also be dried for use later in the season.  The dried blue huckleberry fruits have a flavour somewhat like that of raisins.

            A liqueur is also made from blue huckleberry fruits.

            Leaves of this plant are used for tea during the winter.


Blue huckleberry plants prefer a moist but well drained soil where the pH ranges from 4.5 to 6.  The plant performs better in sunny locations which are free from winds.

            New plants can be raised from seed as well as cuttings and layering.  The seeds require cold stratification for 12-14 weeks.

BLUEBERRY_Vaccinium myrtillus

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Vaccinium myrtillus) 

A wild growing bush of blueberry

Family: Ericaceae

Other name: Common billberry, billberry.

Blueberry can be seen growing wild on moorland and acid ground, including woods with open canopy in the temperate zones of Europe, Asia and North America.  The site of its origin has not been determined yet.

A day’s harvest of blueberries from the woods

             People have been using bilberry for food and also for medicinal purposes for centuries.  This fruit is, however has never been under cultivation and people have been gathering the berries from wild only.


A low shrub of about 0.2 to 0.6 m in height,  occurring in dense stands.

Leaves simple, toothed, borne on angular stems

Blueberry foliage and fruits

Flowers small, greenish pink, waxy, solitary or in pairs.

Fruit, a berry, small, 5-7 mm in diameter, pale red initially but bluish-black at maturity.


Bilberry fruits are eaten fresh as dessert, often with ice cream. The fruits are also stored in freezers for later use. Both fresh as well as frozen fruits have a wide range of culinary uses.

The fruitsused in confectionery as an ingredient and garnish for tarts. They are used for fruit salads, ices, sorbets, syrups, jams, jellies and liqueurs.

Bilberries have an energy value of around 16 kcal per 100 g. They are rich in vitamin A and in purple pigments (anthocyanins) that act antioxidants and free radical scavengers. The vitamin C content is about 15 mg per 100 g.


Bilberry is not cultivated in orchards.  All fruits come from wild plants only.  Harvesting bilberry is a very large scale operation in spite of its being a very labour-intensive operation because of the small size of both the berries and the shrubs on which they grow.

MOUNTAIN CRANBRRY_Vaccinium erythrocarpum

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Vaccinium erythrocarpum)

A plant of mountain cranberry

SynonymsHugeriaerythrocarpaOxycoccuserythrocarpus, Vaccinium japonicum

Other nameBearberry

Family: Ericaceae

Mountain cranberry is a shrub native to southeastern North America at high altitudes in the southern Appalachian Mountains, and also in eastern Asia.  In nature it grows in thickets, rocky woods and summits.


Fruits of mountain cranberry


Mountain cranberry is a deciduous shrub growing upto a height of 1.5 m.  Leaves, serrulate-spinulose with glandular teeth;  corolla 4-lobed and strongly recurved, the lobes longer than the tube. 

Mountain cranberry flowers

            Fruit a berry, borne solitary in leaf axils and red to red-black colored. Calyx lobes are visible on the fruit.

Leaves of a mountain cranberry plant

            The somewhat transparent, scarlet berries have an excellent flavour.  These are eaten raw and also used in jellies etc.  These are also used in sweets.


Mountain cranberry requires a moist but freely-draining lime free soil, preferring one that is rich in peat or a light loamy soil with added leaf-mould.  It prefers acid soil with a pH in the range of 4.5 to 6.  The plants soon become chlorotic when lime is present. This plan succeeds in full sun or light shade though it fruits better in a sunny position.

            This fruit can be propagated by seed as well as cuttings.

            Mountain cranberry has been recommended for improvement by cultivation for its edible fruit.

DWARF BLUEBERRY_Vaccinium caespitosum

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Vaccinium caespitosum)

A plant of dwarf blueberry in full bloom

Family:  Ericaceae

Dwarf blueberry is another of the several blueberries found growing in North America.  It is found across Canada and in the northern half of the United States.

            It is a low-lying plant rarely reaching half a meter in height forming a carpetlike stand in rocky mountainous meadows. The foliage is reddish-green to green and the leaves are shiny on dorsal as well as the ventral sides.  The leaves are also finely serrated.

A fruit of dwarf blueberry

            Flowers are tiny urn-shaped light pink cups less than a centimeter wide.

            The fruits are edible and can be used like those of other blueberries.

ALASKA BLUEBERRY_Vaccinium alaskaense

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Vaccinium alaskaense)

A bush of Alaska blue berry late in the season

Family: Ericaceae

Alaska blueberry is ommon in the Cascades and coastal  mountains from Alaska to northwest Oregon.  It grows all of Alaska except portions of the northern coastal plain and western Aleutians.  It is the most wide spread of wild growing blueberries in Alaska.


Perennial shrub, taller than the rest of blueberry shrubs growing in Alaska. 

Developing fruits of Alaska blueberry

            Leaves relatively larger.

            Flower stalks straight and longer.

            Fruits a berry, blue, edible and sweet.


The fruits are eaten fresh.  These are also made into jams and jellies and added into cakes and pies.  The fruits can also be sundried for use later.


Plants are perennial, producing new growth each spring. Natural regeneration is mostly by adventitious rooting of above-ground stems where they contact the soil. Greenhouse propagation is mainly by seeds which require a cold moist stratification period to germinate. Propagation by stem cuttings has been successful using current year’s growth with bottom heat and 0.3% IBA powder.

SUGAR PLUM_Upaca kirkiana

By parmarch28/12/20180

(Upaca kirkiana)

 Sugar plum tree

Family: Phyllanthaceae

Local names:  Mushuku, umhobohobo.

Sugar plum is a fruit from Africa.  It can be commonly seen growing wild upto an elevation of 1850 m in Tropical Africa from Burundi south to Zimbabwe and Mozambique It is one of those wild growing fruits, which have been selected for domestication.


Small evergreen, much branched tree upto 12 m high.

Leaves alternate, clustered at the end of branches, large 15 cm long, ovate to obovate, dark green, leathery; margin entire, rounded, often distinctly curled from midrib in the shape of a saddle. 

Leaves of a sugar plum tree

Flowers inconspicuous, yellowish, unisexual often but not always, sexes on different trees. 

Sugar plum flowers

Fruits spherical, fleshy, rusty yellow or orange yellow, 2.5 cm in diameter.


The fruits are edible.  These are collected by local people in large quantities during the season.  The fruits are used in various ways.

Sugar plum fruits

            In local medicine, a decoction of sugar plum roots is a remedy for menstrual complaints, syphilis, indigestion, dysentery, infertility and bilharharzia.  It is also said to be a remedy for tuberculosis.


New trees of sugar plum are being planted under various afforestation and tree planting programmes in Zimbabwe.

            New plants are raised from seed only.

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