Black Huckleberries, BC Coastal Region
Black Huckleberries are an erect, deciduous shrub 1 to 2 m tall. The leaves, up to 5 cm long, are elliptical with a long pointed tip and a finely serrated margin. The bell shaped flowers are creamy pink, and are found singly on the underside of the twigs. The berries are large, spherical, sweet, and dark purple or black. In some forms the berries are covered with a waxy bloom; others have shiny dark berries. Huckleberry fruits are an important food source for songbirds, gulls, cranes, pigeons and upland game birds.
Many mammals, from black bears to mice, 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.