Common names: common bilberry, blue whortleberry blaeberry, hurtleberry, huckleberry, winberry, fraughan.
The European blueberry is a small shrub of 25-50 cm belonging to the heather (Ericaceae) family. Its branches are angular, the ovate leaves are 2-3 cm long and narrowing towards the top, with fine serration on the margins. The flowers have reddish-green, round petals which are welded together Blackberry fruits have a blue-black colour and 6-10 mm in diameter.
Blueberry is widespread throughout Europe, besides Northern Europe it is generally found on high hills or in mountain areas. It prefers fresh, acid soils and avoids the calcareous ones.
Both the leaves (Myrtilli folium) as well as the berries (Myrtilli fructus) contain drugs. The leaves collected are shade dried. From 4 to 5 kg of fresh leaves about 1 kg of dry drug can be obtained. The fruits ripen in August. Raw, freshly-collected fruits can be processed for food or pharmaceutical purposes or they can be dried, which allows them a longer storage period.
The leaves contain tannins, catehic tannins and proanthocyanidin. Compared with cranberry, blueberry leaves do not contain any arbutin whatsoever. The blue colour of the fruit is due to mirtilene, an anthocyanin. In addition, the plant contains tannins, fruit acids and anthocyanin glycosides.
Bilberry leaf tea has carminative and diuretic effects, due which it can be used in case of kidney or bladder problems. It is also suitable to cover the daily fluid intake of people with diabetes. It is assumed that leaves reduce blood sugar, but this effect has not yet been scientifically proven.
The fruits can be consumed as follows: 1 tablespoon of dried or bottled fruit or fruit extract daily. Blueberry extract can prevent subconjunctival haemorrhage by people suffering from diabetes and is beneficial for those susceptible to vasculitis. It improves eye adaptation to low light conditions. Blueberry tea cures problems such as gastritis, enteritis and diarrhoea. It also has beneficial effects in case of stomatitis or pharyngitis.
Blueberry jam, syrup and wine are all are very popular and delicious products, the latter improving the strength of the human body.