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These plants, funghi and insect illustrations
are part of my botanical oracle deck

Vaccinium myrtillus | Blueberry

Botanical Overview of Blueberry

  • Scientific Name: Vaccinium myrtillus

  • Common Names: Blueberry, European Blueberry, Bilberry, Whortleberry, Huckleberry

  • Family: Ericaceae (Heath family)

  • Description: Vaccinium myrtillus is a deciduous shrub that typically grows to a height of 10-60 cm. It has slender, angular, green stems and small, oval leaves with finely serrated edges that turn bright red in autumn. The plant produces solitary, pinkish-white or reddish flowers in the spring, which are bell-shaped and about 5-6 mm long. These flowers develop into dark blue or blackish berries with a bluish waxy bloom, typically ripening in late summer. The berries are small, around 5-10 mm in diameter, and are known for their sweet-tart flavor and dark purple juice, which can stain fingers and lips.

vaccinium myrtillus botanical illustration

Properties of Blueberry

  • Chemical Constituents: Rich in anthocyanins (responsible for their blue color), flavonoids, tannins, pectins, vitamins (notably Vitamin C), and minerals. The high levels of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins and polyphenols, are primarily responsible for their health benefits.

  • Edibility: Blueberries are highly nutritious and safe to eat, widely consumed fresh or used in cooking and baking. They are popular in jams, pies, muffins, and other desserts, as well as in beverages like smoothies and juices. The berries can also be dried and used in teas or as a snack. Blueberries are praised for their high antioxidant content, low calories, and numerous health benefits, including improving cardiovascular health and supporting cognitive function.

Distribution and Habitat of Blueberry

  • Native Range: Native to Europe, including the British Isles, and parts of Asia.

  • Preferred Habitat: Blueberry thrives in acidic, well-drained soils with high organic matter content. It is commonly found in coniferous and mixed woodlands, heathlands, and moorlands. The plant prefers cool, temperate climates and is often found at higher altitudes. It grows well in partially shaded areas but can also tolerate full sun. Blueberry forms dense ground cover in forest understories and is adapted to surviving in harsh, nutrient-poor conditions, often benefiting from mycorrhizal associations with soil fungi.

Medicinal Properties and Uses of Blueberry

  • Traditional Uses: Blueberries have been used in traditional medicine for their anti-inflammatory and astringent properties. The dried leaves were used to treat gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea and dysentery. The berries, known for their rich vitamin and mineral content, were consumed to boost immunity and overall health. Blueberry tea made from leaves or berries was traditionally used to alleviate mouth and throat inflammations and to reduce fever.

  • Modern Applications: Today, blueberries are celebrated for their potent antioxidant properties, which can help protect the body against oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. The high anthocyanin content is particularly noted for supporting eye health, improving night vision, and reducing the risk of age-related macular degeneration. Blueberries are also recognized for their benefits in cardiovascular health by improving blood vessel function and lowering blood pressure. Their anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties make them useful in treating urinary tract infections. Blueberries are frequently recommended in diets aimed at enhancing brain function and memory, and they are studied for their potential role in preventing cognitive decline. The leaves and extracts of blueberries continue to be used in herbal remedies for their astringent and antiseptic qualities.

Magical Correspondences and Uses in Magical Practice of Blueberry

  • Element: Water

  • Planet: Jupiter

  • Magical Properties: Protection, healing, prosperity, and intuition.

  • Uses: In magical practices, blueberries are valued for their protective and healing energies. The berries and leaves can be used in spells and rituals to ward off evil spirits and to create a safe and harmonious environment. Blueberries are also associated with prosperity and abundance, making them a good choice for rituals aimed at attracting wealth and success. Their connection to Jupiter lends them a sense of expansion and growth, promoting opportunities and good fortune. Blueberries can be included in charms or sachets to enhance intuition and psychic abilities, as their deep blue color resonates with the energy of the third eye. The plant’s ability to thrive in challenging conditions symbolizes resilience and adaptability, qualities that can be harnessed in spells for strength and endurance. In folk magic, blueberries were sometimes used to draw protective circles or to create magical ink. Their sweet-tart flavor is believed to embody the balance of life's dualities, making them a fitting addition to rituals of harmony and balance.

Folklore, Legends, and Mythology of Blueberry

  • Historical Context: Blueberries have been cherished in European folklore for their medicinal and magical properties. Their deep blue color and early appearance in summer link them to themes of abundance and protection.

  • Folklore: In various European traditions, blueberries were thought to offer protection against witchcraft and to guard homes from malevolent forces. Sprigs of blueberry were placed above doorways and windows to keep evil spirits at bay. The berries were often carried as talismans for protection and good luck. In some cultures, blueberries were believed to be a favorite food of the faeries, and it was said that picking blueberries could attract their favor or provoke their mischief. The plant was also associated with healing, and folk healers used blueberry infusions to cleanse and purify both the body and the spirit.

  • Mythology: While blueberries do not feature prominently in classical mythology, their properties and uses resonate with broader mythological themes of protection, abundance, and renewal. The plant’s resilience and ability to provide sustenance in harsh conditions reflect the themes of survival and resourcefulness found in many myths. Blueberries' early ripening and rich color have made them symbols of life's bounty and the promise of growth and renewal.

Historical Literary Sources

  • "De Materia Medica" by Dioscorides (1st century AD): Though not specifically about blueberries, this ancient text discusses the medicinal uses of various plants, providing a framework for understanding traditional herbal practices.

  • "Culpeper’s Complete Herbal" by Nicholas Culpeper (1653): Offers insights into the traditional medicinal uses of plants, including berries similar to blueberries, and their roles in European herbalism.

  • "A Modern Herbal" by Maud Grieve (1931): Details the uses of various plants in both historical and contemporary contexts, with mentions of the medicinal and protective qualities of berries like blueberries.


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