Humans, through civilizations, have been exploring nature’s bounty for application in food and medicine. Amongst these are various species of berries that have been explored for providing flavor and color to food besides as medicinal resources. Let us delve into some of these berry species.
Also known as European wild blueberry, blaeberry, whortleberry, and dyeberry, bilberry belongs to the Vaccinium myrtillus genus. Being indigenous to northern Europe, it has a purplish-blue or red hue and grows out of pinkish-red, bell-shaped flowers.
The versatile bilberry is eaten raw or used in the preparation of muffins, jams, juices, liqueurs, flavoring agents, desserts, and teas. Further, the rich anthocyanin content in bilberry offers its extract to be used for eco-friendly dyeing of textiles, especially wool.
Bilberry has a high content of water, antioxidants, and manganese in addition to smaller portions of other nutrients like vitamins C and K, niacin, protein, iron, and calcium. While the presence of tannins in the berry makes it a wonderful medicine to reduce inflammation and control diarrhea, the presence of flavonoids is useful in enhancing circulation in diabetic patients.
Bilberry extract and supplements are used in the treatment of diabetes, high cholesterol levels, gastrointestinal disorders, retinotherapy, circulation problems, macular degeneration, and cardiovascular diseases.
Barberry is a bush commonly found in Europe, Central Asia, North Africa, and the Middle East. It belongs to the Berberis vulgaris species and is a thorny evergreen deciduous shrub that bears yellow flowers and red berries.
The berry is used in jams, juice, jellies, wine, and teas. The berry contains berberine and is also rich in vitamin C and B, carotenoids beta-carotene, chromium, zinc, cobalt, and lutein. This makes it a brilliant medication to treat disorders of the cardiovascular and neural system, digestion, and skin. Its extracts are used to treat fever, pain, cancer, seizures, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, and polycystic ovary syndrome.
The most popular variety of barberry is the Japanese barberry, which has impressive hues of orange and red. This variety is used to adorn landscapes and gardens.
Berberine is a phytochemical and an alkaloid constituent found in the roots, stems, and bark of various plants. It represses the growth of bacteria, reduces swelling, and strengthens immunity. It is used to control diabetes besides high blood pressure, cholesterol, and fat levels in the body. The chemical is also effective in the treatment of infertility.
Bilberry versus Blueberry
Both Bilberry and Blueberry belong to the Vaccinium genus. While bilberry is naturally found or hand cultivated, blueberry is cultivated through machine harvesting. In outer appearance, they both look similar, however, the pulp of bilberry is red or purple and that of blueberry is light green. Bilberry fruits are extremely soft, but blueberry fruits are a little more rigid. Both fruits are tangy with mild sweetness.
Bilberry versus Berberine
Bilberry is a berry shrub found in northern Europe. It is dense with anthocyanin, a pigment that gives the fruit its strong flavor and its pulp the red flush. On the other hand, berberine is a chemical with a yellow hue and bitter taste.
Both anthocyanin and berberine are widely incorporated for their medicinal benefits.
Bilberry versus Huckleberry
Both BIlberry and Huckleberry have a similar appearance. Further, both berries can stain the fingers.
Akin to bilberry, huckleberry is rich in vitamin C, antioxidants, and anthocyanin. Both fruits share medicinal and culinary benefits.
So, how can bilberry and huckleberry be differentiated? It is through their taste. Huckleberry is sourer and crunchier with seeds that are harder than bilberry. It grows wild in the forests and slopes of North America and Canada. The berry belongs to the Ericaceae family in the related genera of Vaccinium and Gaylussacia.
Bilberry versus Elderberry
The two fruits are very distinct. Elderberry, belonging to the Sambucus genus, grows in warmer regions of North America, Asia, Europe, and northern Africa. Elderberry has a dark purple color and can be used to make pies, syrups, jams, jellies, wines, and tarts. However, it needs to be cooked. Consuming it raw is not advisable as it could cause allergies and could even be poisonous if not fully ripened. In traditional medicine, elderberry is known to cure colds and flu.
Barberry versus Berberine
By now we know that barberry is a fruit that grows in thorny shrubs.
Berberine is an alkaloid, yellow chemical present in the stem, bark, and root of this berry plant. It has active antioxidant, antifungal and antibacterial properties that accord it a high therapeutic value.
Barberry versus Bearberry
Barberry and Bearberry are distinctive fruits, barring part of their geographical presence and uses. Bearberry belongs to the Arctostaphylos genus and is found in North America, Europe, and Asia. It is a red-colored berry rich in phytochemicals. It is beneficial in the treatment of urinary tract infections, indigestion, and diabetes. As food, it is loved by bears and humans alike.
Barberry versus Bayberry
Bayberry is classified under the Myricaceae genus and can be found across the world, especially in the USA, the UK, the West Indies, Japan, and South America. It is a therapeutic herb with antimicrobial properties. It is consumed by brewing as tea or as a spice. It is popular as a fragrance in soaps and candles too. By comparison, barberry and bayberry are both shrubs that are salt resistant and thrive in cool coastline climates.
Blueberry versus Myrtle
Blueberry and Myrtle are identical in outer appearance, but myrtle has a deeper bluish skin and a reddish-purple pulp. Myrtle, grown in southern Europe and North Africa, belongs to the Myrtus genus. It contains flavonoids, tannins, and sugar. It is commonly used as a spice in meat cuisines, or to brew tea.
Blueberry versus Blackcurrant
They are two diverse types of fruits. Blueberry is from the Vaccinium family and native to North America, while blackcurrant belongs to the Grossulariaceae genus and is native to central and northern Europe, and northern Asia. Blackcurrant is a shiny black fruit that grows in bunches, preferring fertile wet soil.