Bilberry – Vaccinium Myrtillus

On my recent rambles, most of the green shoots I’ve seen coming up through the leaf litter have belonged to Bilberry shrubs, Vaccinium myrtillus. Their smooth, leafless bright green stems have a slightly alien appearance at this time of year as they reach upwards for the light.

While they may not be the most exciting or prettiest of plants at this time of year, it’s always worth noting their location if you come across a large patch… though you’ll have to be quick to beat the birds and mice to the delicious berries when they appear later in the summer!

Bilberry grows predominantly in woodland and heathland, and develops into a beautiful display of colours in the autumn. If you come across a large patch on the moors, it could also be home to the rather wonderful (and also rather rare!) bilberry bumblebee, Bombus monticola.
There’s quite a lot of bilberry up on Haddon Hill just South of Wimbleball lake, so I shall certainly be out hunting for these engaging little creatures (and hopefully finding the odd bilberry to eat along the way) this summer!

Bilberry bumblebee

By Chris Eyles, Senior Warden for Exmoor


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