Monday, April 19, 2021

History of bilberry

Bilberries (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) are the native European blueberries, closely related to the North American blueberry species (Vaccinium corymbosum L.).

Bilberry fruit was reported in the writings of ancient medical authorities such as Pliny and Theophrastus.

The common name bilberry is reported to be derived from the Danish word bollebar which mean “dark berry”. The species name myrtillus refers to the resemblance of the leaves to those of myrtle (Myrtus communis, Myrtaceae).

The genus name Vaccinium, reportedly first used by Pliny, is thought to be derived from Latin bacca, meaning “olive”, “berry”, or any round fruit or alternatively vacca meaning “cow”. Common names for bilberry in England include bleaberry, blueberry, and common whortleberry.

The medicinal activity of bilberry has been written about since at least the Middle Ages, and bilberry fruit and leaves have been used in conventional folk medicine in Europe since the 16th century. Saint Hildegard from Bingen (1098-1179 AD) indicated the use of bilberry for the treatment of eye disorders. She also is reported to have recommended the fruits for promoting menstruation.

The 16th century herbalist Culpeper reported on the use of bilberry for the liver and stomach, as an astringent, and for chronic coughs and diseases of the lungs.
History of bilberry