Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

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bilberry the fruit of a group of low scrubby plants in the genus Vaccinium, especially V. myrtillus, which typically bear dark bluish-purple berries with a characteristic bloom on their smooth skins. They are a northern (particularly Scandinavian) fruit. They are distinct from the cranberry and blueberry, although they belong to the same genus and the name whortleberry is sometimes applied to both.

Other names in use in Britain are whinberry, because the plant grows among whins (a Scots term for gorse); and blaeberry, ‘blae’ being a north country and Scots word for blue.