Outdoor journal: Blueberries ripe in northern Minnesota

  • Article by: JIM GILBERT
  • Updated: August 6, 2009 - 8:47 PM

Botanically, the blueberry, like the currant, gooseberry, grape and tomato is a true berry -- a fleshy fruit usually containing many seeds. Blueberries have small, soft seeds, are juicy and sweet, and have a distinct and individual taste. Many groups of Native Americans used them for food, both fresh and dried.

Not only do blueberries, with their 83 percent water content, taste great but nutritionally they are valuable for containing vitamins A and C, calcium, phosphorus, potassium, and some of the B vitamins.

Blueberries, belonging to the heath family along with cranberries and wintergreen, became well established in North America following the glaciations of the Pleistocene time. In the northeastern United States including northern Wisconsin and northern Minnesota, the native species are the lowbush types that thrive in the wild whenever the terrain is suitable, forming dense, extensive colonies usually 10 to 20 inches high.

The fruit is generally gathered in July, August and September after the jug-shaped whitish-colored flowers have appeared in May and early June. Wild Minnesota blueberry plants grow in sandy, acid soil of dry, open forests and clearings and in rocky areas in the region of the coniferous forests.

JIM GILBERT

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