Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Blueberries, as Opposed to Blue Berries

As I've mentioned, I've been picking a lot of lovely, fresh blueberries from the native wild blueberry plants in our yard.  They are small, but extremely tasty.  They're a bit fiddly to pick, but it's good to be outside and enjoying the fresh air while picking them, even if my knees do complain a bit if I pick for too long!

Here's a blueberry plant in my yard.  This is Vaccinium angustifolium, which is the lowbush blueberry.

You can clearly see the small oval leaves and the branching habit of this plant.  The berries themselves are a sort of light blue.  You can brush at them with your fingers and rub some of that off, and they are darker blue underneath, but they are usually this lighter blue on the plant.  The berries form in small clusters at the tips of the branches of leaves.

Also, the blueberries have little "crowns" on their ends, sort of like pomegranate fruit.  The end has a round middle with little star shaped flaps that stick out.  You can see it really clearly on the green, unripe berry below - the little star shaped end with pink tips.

These are also blue berries.  But they are not blueberries.  Do not eat these.

These are the berries of Clintonia borealis, commonly known as the blue bead lily, and about ten other common names (oh, the confusion of common names!!).  The leaves of this plant are the long oval leaves in the picture below with the strong central vein.  They are not small leaves like those of the blueberry plant.  

Notice that these berries do not have the little star-shaped 'crown' on the end.  They are smooth and a different shade of blue, and have an indentation on the end of the berry. like the top of an apple.  Although they are in a cluster, they are on the end of a very long stem.  The edible blueberries are at the tips of little branches of leaves - not the end of a long stem like these.
Chipmunks and birds eat the berries, but they are toxic to humans.  They won't kill you, but they will probably make you sick.  So, eat blueberries, not just any old blue berries!  

Speaking of blueberries, here's a recent moth sighting.  This is Acleris curvalana, the blueberry leaftier moth.  It's a tiny little thing, only about 1 cm long.  You'll have to look closely to see one!

1 comment:

Lin said...

Look at the lovely blue of those berries! Lucky you!