Medicinal Plants, Pacific Northwest
The Black Huckleberry is a deciduous shrub up to 2 m tall. The leaves are about 5 cm long, elliptical with a long pointed tip and a finely serrated margin. The bell shaped flowers are light pink, and are found on the underside of the branches. The berries are big, round and sweet.
Huckleberry fruits are an important food source for many types of birds. Many mammals, from bears to squirrels feed on huckleberries. Herbivores graze on the entire plant, it appears to be a favorite browse of deer. Huckleberries and blueberries form a major part of the black bear’s diet in late summer and fall. Grouse feast on the leaves and blossoms. The fruits, twigs, and foliage are eaten by raccoons, squirrels, deer, elk and mice
Huckleberry leaves and finely chopped stems contain quinic acid, a former therapeutic for gout said to inhibit uric acid formation but never widely used because of mixed clinical results. The leaves have been widely used to lower or modify blood sugar levels, particularly in Europe. Taken on regular basis, huckleberry tea will gradually help alleviate both glycosuria and hyperglycemia and has a benign but useful effect as an adjunct treatment to diabetes mellitus.
The Black Huckleberry is a good source of vitamins and they are loaded with antioxidants. They also taste good.