vaccinium membranaceum

FUN FACTS: What’s in a name?

Did you know that well over 50 languages are spoken in B.C., including over 40 First Nations languages? With that much language diversity, one can guess that something as common as a huckleberry might go by many different names.

Even in English, however, is it not so straightforward to call a huckleberry a huckleberry. There are at least three “huckleberries” that are native to this land: red huckleberry, most common along the Pacific Coast; black huckleberry, common throughout B.C., but most prominently in the interior; and evergreen huckleberry, limited in range to the southwestern corner of the province.

The picture gets more complicated still with the issue of blueberries. Blueberries and huckleberries are actually cousins within the same genus (Vaccinium spp.) What makes one berry “blue” and another one “huckle”  is a good question.  “As far as I’m concerned,” Mark Turner of Native Plants and Wildlife explains,  “it’s just a difference of common name…We’ve got red huckleberries and black huckleberries (V. membranaceum) and evergreen huckleberries (V. ovatum), but oval-leaved blueberries (V. ovalifolium) and Cascades blueberries (V. deliciosum). Yes, it’s confusing. But they’re all edible so don’t worry about the name so much.”

Featured image by Julie, via Wikimedia commons

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