Berry Interesting Facts
Ever wondered where blueberries come from? Like to know the scientific names of these juicy little beauties? You’ve come to the right place.
The local blueberry industry
As Australia’s love affair with blueberries grows, our growers respond in kind. Each year, Australian farmers grow 6,000 tonnes of blueberries with a farmgate value of $A120 million. Of these:
- 75% is sold fresh within Australia
- 10% is exported to Asia and Europe
- 15% is processed, mainly as frozen product
Fresh Australian blueberries are available from June to April.
- Blueberries belong to the Ericaceae family, genus Vaccinium – a large family of woody shrubs that loves acidic soils and can be found throughout the world.
- The blueberry is the most famous – and tasty – berry in the Vaccinium genus. Others you may have heard of include the bilberry, cranberry and ligonberry. Then there are the sparkleberry, farkleberry, whortleberry and partridgeberry. Imagine adding a handful of farkleberries to your muesli each morning!
- Blueberries have three common varieties: lowbush, highbush and rabbiteye.
- Lowbush blueberries – This variety, which produces a big harvest of intensely flavoured blueberries, is not grown in Australia’s milder climate. It thrives in colder climates in the northern hemisphere.
- Highbush blueberries – This is the most common variety in Australia, with many cultivars suited to the Australian climate. The two most popular cultivars grown here are the Northern Highbush and the Southern Highbush. Just to confuse things, the Northern Highbush is grown in Victorian, Tasmania and Southern NSW; while the Southern Highbush is grown in milder regions like Northern NSW and Southern Queensland.
- Rabbiteye blueberries – This is another late season variety, which can endure warm and humid summers and tolerate dry conditions like no other, making it right at home in Northern NSW and Queensland. Its name comes from the calyx, which when ripening looks just like little rabbit eyes looking back at you.