Super Blueberries

The roadside markets and produce stores are bursting with a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. One fruit that is well-represented is the blueberry.

Blueberries have been hailed as a super food because the raw berry contains a number of chemicals and nutrients that are good for you. They contain high amounts of anthocyanins, resveratrol, flavonals and tannins that have been shown to inhibit the mechanisms of cancer cell development, lower blood pressure, help alleviate cognitive decline in Alzheimer's patients, lower brain damage in some stroke patients, rejuvenate the skin, and help to control the symptoms of depression, to name a few benefits.

Photo from wikimedia.orgby Dladek

Blueberries grow wild from Virginia to Quebec, Canada, preferring upland soils with an acidic pH. There are three species of blueberries found in our area -- the low-bush blueberry, high-bush blueberry and huckleberry.

The blueberry bush thrives after forest fires, reproducing prolifically, especially if the overstory tree canopy is reduced. Historical records list blueberry cultivation as a cause for many large forest fires that burned in Frederick County in the early 1900s.

A number of commercial cultivars of blueberry have been developed over the years using mostly variants of the high-bush blueberry, and now the fruit is grown from Florida to Maine and in the Pacific Northwest, with Maine the largest producer of blueberries in North America.

Blueberry production begins in Florida in mid-May and ceases in Maine by late September. Blueberries have been transplanted in the Southern Hemisphere and now Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, South Africa and New Zealand are important producers, supplying many of the blueberries you find in stores during the winter.

Article by FCFCDB

Nature Notes for 9/12/2010