Taxonomy

Vaccinium myrtillus | Bilberry | Fraochán

Distribution

Status

Conservation status

Not protected

Native status

Native

Species Biology

Identification

  • Flowers from April to July
  • Low-growing deciduous undershrub
  • Solitary, drooping pale green-pink urn-shaped flowers (4-6mm long) which have 5 rolled-back lobes and are on angled stems. 
  • Leaves are pale green, oval shaped with finely-toothed margins and short stalks
  • Fleshy purple-black berries occur in the late summer-autumn  

Habitat

Mountains, heaths and acid woodland

Life cycle

Perennial

Ex-situ conservation

Not known

Use

Food crop

Vegetative nature

Herbaceous

Distribution

World distribution(GBIF)

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2021

The following map is interactive. If you would prefer to view it full screen then click here.

How can you help

This species is included in our early summer flowering plants project. If you see the species please submit your sighting. All information is very valuable.

Full list of species included in the early summer flowering plants project:

  1. Ragged Robin (Silene flos-cuculi)
  2. Yellow Rattle (Rhinanthus minor)
  3. Bog Asphodel (Narthecium ossifragum)
  4. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea)
  5. Pyramidal orchid (Anacamptis pyramidalis)
  6. Scarlet Pimpernel (Anagallis arvensis)
  7. Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)
  8. Guelder Rose (Viburnum opulus)
  9. Navelwort (Umbilicus rupestris)
  10. Maidenhair Spleenwort (Asplenium trichomanes)
  11. Silverweed (Potentilla anserine)
  12. Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus)

Further information

This species is included in the early summer flowering plants project which is a collaboration between the National Biodiversity Data Centre and the BSBI. It is hoped we can collect valuable data to improve our knowledge of the current distribution of some common plants. All data will be fully validated by both partners before loading to Biodiversity Maps and being made available to the BSBI.

Vaccinium myrtillus is also a Crop Wild Relative in Ireland. It has been used for nearly 1,000 years in traditional European medicine and collected as a wild harvested crop in many countries to make jams, desserts and wines. In Ireland, the fruit is known as the 'Frochan' and is traditionally gathered on the last Sunday in July, known as 'Frochan' Sunday. The berries were also collected at Lughnasadh in August, the first traditional harvest festival of the year. The crop of bilberries was said to indicate how well the rest of the crops would fare in their harvests later in the year.

Images