VACCINIUM

A genus of deciduous and evergreen shrubs with several common names, depending somewhat on the species. Examples are bilberry, blueberry, cranberry and whortleberry. The fruits are in most instances edible and in some species the foliage colours well in autumn. Increase by layering in a peaty compost in March. Some vacciniums may be propagated by division at the same time. None tolerates lime but the soil may be either light or heavy (preferably the former). Work in plenty of damp peat before planting. Vaccinium myrtillus is the familiar bilberry, whortleberry or worts with pale pink flowers in May and juicy, black fruits in July and August. Height variable to 18 in. In Surrey it is called hurts, in the north and in Scotland blaeberry or whinberry (there it often grows wild in company with Scotch heather or ling). Bilberries are used for tarts, pies, jams and jellies and make very tasty fritters. V. oxycoccus is the cranberry, an evergreen, straggly species. The very acid fruits are seldom eaten raw but are used for stews, jellies and sauces, cranberry sauce being the best possible accompaniment to roast turkey. V. arctostaphylos, the Caucasian whortleberry, grows to about 8 ft. with greenish-white and purple flowers in June. The leaves turn reddish-purple in autumn.

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