Herb: Red Bilberry

Latin name: Vaccinium parvifolium

Family: Ericaceae (Heath Family)

Medicinal use of Red Bilberry:

Antiseptic, astringent, carminative, hypoglycaemic. A decoction of the bark has been used in the treatment of colds.

Description of the plant:


180 cm
(6 feet)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Coastal forests.

Edible parts of Red Bilberry:

Fruit - raw or cooked and used in making jams, pies, jellies etc. The fruit can also be dried for later use. An acid flavour, but it is very palatable. The fruit makes a very superior jelly. The fruit is about 12mm in diameter. A tea is made from the dried fruit and leaves.

Other uses of the herb:

The long straight green stems and twigs have been used to make brooms.

Propagation of Red Bilberry:

Seed - sow late winter in a greenhouse in a lime-free potting mix and only just cover the seed. Stored seed might require a period of up to 3 months cold stratification. Another report says that it is best to sow the seed in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe. Once they are about 5cm tall, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 8cm with a heel, August in a frame. Slow and difficult. Layering in late summer or early autumn. Another report says that spring is the best time to layer. Takes 18 months. Division of suckers in spring or early autumn.

Cultivation of the herb:

Coastal forests.

Known hazards of Vaccinium parvifolium:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.