Appears in
Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

huckleberry Gaylussacia baccata, a name made familiar by Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, is as American as the hero of that book. The plant is related to the cranberry and blueberry (or bilberry). Its name is a corruption of ‘hurtleberry’, an old name for the blueberry; and the two plants are broadly alike, growing in the same regions, and being used in the same ways. However, the fruit of the huckleberry is different in structure; it contains ten hard ‘seeds’ rather than numerous soft ones.

The black huckleberry, G. baccata, is the most popular, but Fernald and Kinsey (1943) aver that the dangleberry, G. frondosa, is just as good and will ‘make one of the most luscious of desserts, being remarkably juicy and with a rich, spicy and sweet flavor’. The stones, however, make both species less attractive than the blueberry and they are not commercially gathered or cultivated. Berries gathered from the wild may be used in pies and conserves with or as a substitute for many other berries.