Scientific name: Vaccinium myrtillus

Common names: Whortleberry, Whinberry, Black Whortles, Huckleberry, Trackleberry, Bleaberry, Hurts, Hurtleberry, Airelle

Ayurvedic names:

Chinese names:

Bangladesh names:

Arabic names:    عنب الأحراج (i’nabu l’ahraaj)

Rain Forest names:

Family: Fabaceae?

Approximate number of species known:

Common parts used: Fruit, Leaf

Collection: Summer

Annual/Perennial: Perennial

Height: 10 cm to 4 m

Actions: Astringent

Known Constituents: dried bilberry >1% tannins expressed as pyrogallol (C6H6O3)  fresh bilberry >.3% anthocyanins expressed as cyanidin 3-0-glucoside chloride (chrysanthemin C21H21ClO11)

Constituents Explained:


The name Bilberry comes from a Danish word meaning ‘dark berry.’  

The berry is about 5mm in diameter. It contains oval shaped seeds. When crushed it normally becomes a violet-red colour.

Has a sweet taste.

Traditional Use:

Bilberry is known for the part it plays in eye health.  

Als used for poor circulation and to strengthen blood vessels. It has been used to protect the capilleries(7).  

The leaves are sometimes used as a urinary antiseptic. 

Clinical Studies:

A study investigated the connection between Vaccinium myrtillus and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) that might be an explanation of the pharmacological effects on circulation. Cultured endothelial cells from human umbilical veins were incubated with bilberry 25E extract. 

The main anthocyanidins combined in myrtillin chloride and separately in cyanidin, delphinidin, and malvidin, respectively, were examined concerning their effects on ACE. After 10 min of incubation with bilberry 25E, a significant, dose-dependent inhibition of ACE activity was seen, and after incubation with myrtillin chloride a significant inhibition was seen. 

The effect seems to be dependent on this specific mixture of anthocyanins in the bilberry. V. myrtillus may thus have the potential to prevent and protect against cardiovascular diseases.


Persson IA, Persson K, Andersson RG. “Effects Of Vaccinium Myrtillus And Its Polyphenols On Angiotensin-Converting Enzymes Activity In Human Endothelial Cells.” 2009 June.

Source material:


Other names: whortleberry, whinberry, black whortles, huckleberry, trackleberry, bleaberry, hurts, hurtleberry, airelle

Latin name: Vaccinium myrtillus

Family: Vacciniaceae

Common part used:  leaves, dry fruits

Bilberries are distributed on the poorest soils on the world in temperate and subarctic regions. This plant has close relations to the blueberries and huckleberries grown in the North America. It can be found in Scandinavian countries, in the United Kingdom, in Alpine countries, in the Carpathian Mountains of Poland and Ukraine, and also Russia. The main difference with blueberries and huckleberries is that bilberry produces single berries, or pairs of them instead of clusters. 

It is a small shrub with numerous branches, usually it is only thirty centimeters high, with lots of black berries, covered with grayish bloom when they are ripe.  The leaves are very ornamental, especially in autumn, when from yellowish green they turn into red. 

The fruit is small in size, not bigger than a black currant. It has a round shape and somewhat flattened top. The taste is acid and not veru pleasant, but if cooked properly with honey or sugar, bilberries make an excellent jam or any other kind of preserve. In many countries the bilberry is a popular flavoring for different deserts, and in Italy and France, which are famous for excellent wines, this plant is used as a base for some popular liqueurs.

The Bilberry has been long used for the medicinal purposes, such as a remedy to treat scurvy, diarrhea and other health related issues. These days it is still used as a treatment for diarrhea, varicose veins, different circulatory problems like venous insufficiency, and also for eye problems. The leaves of bilberry are employed for treatment of different diseases, not excluding even diabetes.

Like other dark blue or blackish fruits, bilberries are characterized by a high level of certain pigments who are supposed to reduce the chances of getting such diseases as heart attacks, eyes problems and cancer.