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Tizz | 18:51 Tue 14th Sep 2004 | Home & Garden
6 Answers
I came across a Huckleberry seeds back in the spring and thought I would give them a go. Loads germinated and I hate to waste things, so I grew them on and then planted out about 25 or so, after a dodgy start I now have 25 enormous plants, covered with green and black berries - but they taste foul! I thought americans were big into huckleberries, what on earth do they do with them? What can I do with half a ton of them? Teresa


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I presume you're not eating the green ones... Take care, because huckleberry (Solanum scabrum) is very similar to black nightshade (Solanum nigrum). This is a closely related poisonous garden weed, native in Europe and introduced to America. Huckleberry used to be called Solanum nigrum subspecies guineense. I believe Americans regularly get them muddled. Black nightshade is nothing like as poisonous as deadly nightshade, but it's worth avoiding. Just keep track of which ones you planted, and avoid growing from saved seed if you have the nightshade nearby.
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Thanks New Forester It did say on the seed packet that they look like nightshade, but are perfectly safe. Nope, I'm not eating the green ones, but I'm not eating the black ones either - horrid. Teresa
Hi Teresa, I'm wondering what is the botanical name of the berries you planted. Blueberries and huckleberries are different varieties of berry. Some huckleberries aren't sweet like the highbush blueberry - Vaccinium species. You really have me curious as I've never heard of our beloved blueberry shrubs producing in the first year! Blueberries are sweet and delicious and can be eaten when ripe right off the shrub. Here's some info that might be helpful for you to id what you have. Black huckleberries - Gaylussacia baccata need to be black when ripe. Dwarf Huckleberry (Bilberry) - Vaccinium cespitosum ilb.htm The best in my US opinion next to the wild Maine ones: Northern Type Blueberries - Vaccinium corymbosum More info on blueberries ueberry/blueplnt.htm ueberry.htm Info on huckleberries ckleberry/huckleplnt.htm ckleberry.htm You can pick them when they are ripe and make blueberry pie,
Newt - In UK the large American bush Vacciniums are generally called blueberries. Our much smaller native Vaccinium myrtillus is usually called bilberry -- also locally hurts or whorts (pronounced alike), whortleberry or whinberry. Then there are cranberries -- ours are tiny and creeping, but aren't the commercial American ones also a bush? I've never heard huckleberry used here except for Solanum, but from what you say it must be used more broadly in America. Seed I've seen for sale here is definitely Solanum, and as Teresa's seed packet mentioned nightshade I think hers must be too.
New Forester and Teresa, Yes, American cranberries are grown on large shrubs of 6' to 10' and are known as Viburnum trilobum. The berries are red and very bitter. Many people in the US call blueberries and huckleberries the same thing, but they are different. Huckleberries - Gaylussacia species and are often bitter. This should help to explain it. Another plant called huckleberry is the Solanum nigrum and is NOT what we in the US call blueberries or even, incorrectly, huckleberries and are bitter. It IS black nightshade. html Teresa, wish I could send you some real blueberries. They're yummy! Newt
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Thank you everyone for your help. The variety I have is Garden Huckleberry Solanum Melanocerasum. Apparently it has to be cooked and sweetened - I will have a go at this during the week, and post my results in case anyone else is considering this plant for next year. It is certainly prolific if it turns out to be of any use. The following site was very informative if you are interested in knowing more. /h201huckleberry.html Thanks again. Teresa

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