WHAT IS A BLUEBERRY?
The blueberry is a very popular berrying fruit bush from the genus Vaccinium. It is a native to the American continent and is in fact one of only a few fruits native to North America.
Blueberries are a fruit rich in health promoting benefits. So many in fact that it is considered by many to be a 'super food'! To reinforce this belief, research from the University of Michigan Cardiovascular Center has found that blueberries can reduce belly fat, lower the risk of heart disease and metabolic syndrome. Furthermore, a study published in the 2009 Experimental Biology conference also said that a diet rich in blueberries function lowers cholesterol levels, improve glucose control and insulin sensitivity, and lowers the risk of heart disease and diabetes.
Blueberries and Native American Tradition:
The blossom end of each berry, the calyx, forms the shape of a perfect five-pointed star; the elders of the tribe would tell of how the Great Spirit sent "star berries" to relieve the children's hunger during a famine. Parts of the blueberry plant were also used as medicine.
A tea made from the leaves of the plant was thought to be good for the blood. Blueberry juice was used to treat coughs. The juice also made an excellent dye for baskets and cloth. In food preparation, dried blueberries were added to stews, soups and meats. The dried berries were also crushed into a powder and rubbed into meat for flavour Blueberries were also used for medicinal purposes along with the leaves and roots. A beef jerky called Sautauthig (pronounced saw'-taw-teeg), was made with dried blueberries and meat and was consumed year round.
The roll of the Blueberry in Thanksgiving:
In the winter of 1620, the Pilgrims established a settlement at Plimoth (spelt Plymouth today). Many perished during the first few months, but those that survived went on to build homes and establish farms. Their neighbours, the Wampanoag Indians taught the settlers new skills that helped them survive. They showed them how to plant corn and how to gather and use native plants to supplement their food supply. One important native crop was blueberries!
The colonists learned from Native Americans how to gather blueberries, dry them under the summer's sun and store them for the winter. In time, blueberries became an important food source and were preserved, and later canned. A beverage made with blueberries was an important staple for Civil War Soldiers. In the 1880s a blueberry canning industry began in the North-east USA.
Blueberry - family and species
V. corymbosum. (Northern Highbush) Grow in the forests wild in North America and were used to cultivate the modern highbush or cultivated blueberry industry along with the V. Ashei.
V. ashei. (Southern Rabbiteye). You may be surprised to learn that blueberries thrive in the Southern USA. A variety called the Rabbiteye is named this because the calyx on the berry resembles the eye of the rabbit!
V. angustifolium. (Lowbush or also called "Wild blueberries." These dwarf bushes are very cold hardy, surviving in the wild as far north as Arctic North America. These Blueberries only reach a height of 1 or 2 feet. and include the low sweet Blueberry (V. angustifolium), which is found from the Arctic to Minnesota and the mountains of New York and New Hampshire, and the sour-tasting velvet-leaf Blueberry (V. myrtilloides), which is found wild throughout New England and west.
Blueberry common names
Many different names have been given to the numerous varieties of Vaccinium that produce edible fruits, such as Blueberry, Bilberry, Cowberry, Cranberry, Crowberry; Farkleberry, Lingonberry, Partridgeberry, Huckleberry (not the true Huckleberry, which is Gaylussacia), Whortleberry, and Sparkleberry to mention a few.
The cultivated Blueberry
Efforts in the early 1900's by Elizabeth White and Dr. Frederick Coville to domesticate the wild highbush blueberry resulted in today's cultivated highbush blueberry industry.
They selected desirable plants from the wild forests of the North-east USA and cultivated them to develop blueberries that could be commercially grown by farmers.
Their initial breeding work has resulted in the plump, juicy, sweet and easy to pick cultivated blueberry we enjoy today.
Without this cultivation work we would not have fresh blueberries in the marketplace as we do today.
For decades "cultivated" or "highbush" blueberries have been improved through natural selection and plant breeding programs to produce an optimal blueberry with desirable flavour texture and colour for fresh and processed markets.
Cultivated varieties have been enhanced to offer magnificent plump berries with deep, rich colour and a delicious fruity flavour.
These plant breeding programs have resulted in the development of superior berries both for the consumer and the food processing industry.
For more information click onto:
All about Blueberries
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Buy Melon Seed
Growing Strawberries from Seed
How to Grow Blueberries
How to Grow Citrus Trees
How to Grow Melons
How to Germinate and Grow Watermelon Seed Indoors
How to Grow Kiwi from Seed
How to Grow Melon Plants from Seed Outdoors
How to Grow Melons in a Greenhouse
How to Grow Raspberries
How to Grow Strawberries
How to Grow Strawberries from Seed
How to Grow Watermelon Plants from Seed Outdoors
How to Overwinter Strawberries
How to Plant and Grow Strawberries
How to Propagate Strawberries
How to Protect Fruit from Birds
How to Prune an Apple Tree
How to Prune Raspberries
How to Collect and Prepare Strawberry Seed for Propagation
How to Plant and Grow Blackcurrants
The First Thanksgiving
What is a blueberry?
What is a Kiwi fruit?
What is a Papple?
What is Persimmon?
What is Quinoa?
What is Thanksgiving?
When is Thanksgiving?
When to Prune Apple Trees
Where can you Grow Blueberries?
Why is Fresh Fruit so Good for You?
Based on an article from http://www.blueberry.org/blueberries.htm and http://www.thompson-morgan.com/how-to-grow-blueberries and http://foodspeople.com/blueberry-benefits/
Images care of http://foodspeople.com/blueberry-benefits/ and http://slowfoodqc.wordpress.com/2012/02/08/tasting-summer-in-february-and-a-blueberry-cobbler-recipe/ and http://www.allotment.org.uk/greenhouse/fruit/blueberry.php and http://blogs.villagevoice.com/forkintheroad/2011/11/the_real_thanks.php and http://www.mainegardens.org/calendar/exhibit-auction-botanical-illustrations-of-kate-furbish-featuring-the-plants-of-coastal-maine-botanical-gardens-with-ada-graham-frank-graham-and-richard-lindemann and http://www.allotment.org.uk/greenhouse/fruit/blueberry.php and http://www.antioxidant-fruits.com/eden-foods-organic-dried-blueberries-antioxidant-fruits-com-product-review.html and http://babyboomersgogreen.info/?p=256