Blueberries, BC Coastal Region
Black bears will eat the juicy Blueberries when they are in season. It has been documented that they will travel, with an empty stomach, great distances, just to find a blueberry patch. They grow all over the BC coast. Cousins of our Island blueberries also live in Asia, Europe and South America.
First People held the wild blueberry in very high esteem, due to the fact that the blossom end of each blueberry forms a five point star. It was believed the great spirit sent these star berries to relieve the hunger of children during a famine.
They also used the whole plant for medicinal purposes and made a strong aromatic tea from the root. It was used as a relaxant during childbirth. Early medical books show this same tea was used by wives of settlers during labor. Blueberry juice was used for persistent coughs and tea made from wild blueberry leaves was believed to be a good tonic to help purify the blood.
First peoples encouraged its growth by periodically burning blueberry fields, which would quickly grow again with new plants. The first European settlers found them to be similar to types of berries that grew in their homeland.
Blueberries have received much attention in recent years due to their health attributes. The fruit is rich in antioxidant compounds that fight free radicals that are associated with cancer, heart disease and premature aging.