The Bilberry, Vaccinium myrtillus


Bilberries, sometimes known as European or Swedish Blueberries, Whortleberry, or Blaeberry in Scotland, is a species of low-growing shrub that is native to Europe, bearing edible, dark blue berries in late summer. They are found in low-nutrient acidic soils, mainly in forest and moorland areas in the UK. Bilberries were the first foraged item that Arthur was introduced to and are one of his favourite berries. He has been gathering and eating them since he was 18 months old and can readily identify the Bilberry bush, even without fruit. Harvesting the berries is slow going, unless you use a tool, such as a Swedish berry picker. We use them in lots of recipes, from crumbles and fools, to pies and pastries, and add them to porridge, smoothies, fruit salads, yogurts, and ice cream. We also use them to make syrup or cordial. The leaves of the bilberry bush can also be harvested for use in Moorland Tea, and provide a tart, apple-like flavour.

Scoffing Bilberries is one of Arthur's favourite pastimes!

Bilberry Checklist


🌲 Coniferous Woodland.
🐝 Moorland, including heaths and grouse moors.


πŸŒžπŸ‚ Berries Jul - Sep
πŸŒΈπŸŒžπŸ‚β„οΈ Leaves - May - Nov


☘️ Small, green, ovate and toothed. Sometimes with red patches.


🌷 Small pink-red, waxy, bell-shaped flowers that resemble berries.


🌱 The stems of the Bilberry are green, stiff and ridged at the sides, making them feel square-shaped.


πŸ“ Dark, round, blue-purple berries with a circular depression at the end. They resemble minature blueberries.

Edible Parts

πŸ“ Berries
☘️ Leaves

Aroma / Taste

πŸ‘ƒ Indistinct Aroma.
πŸ‘… Raw bilberries are sweet and tart.
πŸ˜‹ We consider Bilberries to be a Choice Edible.

ID Notes

🟩 ID Difficulty - Beginner
πŸ‘€ The berries are a key identifier of this plant.
🀚 Lips, mouths, tongue and fingers will be stained purple!


β˜•οΈ Beverage - Leaves can be used to make teas. Berries can be used to make cordial and wine.
πŸ§‰ Condiment - Berries can be used to make sauces.
🍨 Sweet - Berries can be used to make desserts, puddings and syrups.
πŸ“ Yummy - The berries are a tasty forage snack.