AskDefine | Define huckleberry

Dictionary Definition

huckleberry

Noun

1 any of various dark-fruited as distinguished from blue-fruited blueberries
2 any of several shrubs of the genus Gaylussacia bearing small berries resembling blueberries
3 blue-black berry similar to blueberries and bilberries of the eastern United States

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Noun

  1. A small round fruit of a dark blue color. The fruit is somewhat smaller than the blueberry which it resembles in look and taste. The fruit grows in small clumps on a bush that typically ranges in height between three and ten feet.

Extensive Definition

For other uses of the word "Huckleberry", see Huckleberry Finn and Huckleberry Hound.
Huckleberry is a name used in North America for several plants in two closely related genera in the family Ericaceae: Gaylussacia and Vaccinium. The Huckleberry is the state fruit of Idaho.
While some Vaccinium species, such as the Red Huckleberry, are always called huckleberries, other species may be called blueberries or huckleberries depending upon local custom. Usually, the distinction between them is that blueberries have numerous tiny seeds, while huckleberries have 10 larger seeds (making them more difficult to eat).
Note that there is much confusion in naming of berries in American English. The 'garden huckleberry' (Solanum melanocerasum) is not considered to be a true huckleberry but a member of the nightshade family.
The fruit of the various species of plant called huckleberry is generally edible. The berries are small and round, usually less than 5 mm in diameter, and contain 10 relatively large seeds. Berries range in color according to species from bright red, through dark purple, and into the blues. In taste the berries range from tart to sweet, with a flavor similar to that of a blueberry, especially in blue/purple colored varieties. Huckleberries are a favorite of many mammals such as bears and humans.
In the Pacific Northwest of North America, the huckleberry plant can be found in mid-alpine regions, often on the lower slopes of mountains. The plant grows best in damp, acidic soil. Under optimal conditions, huckleberries can be as much as 1.5-2 m (about 5-6.5 feet) high, and usually ripen in mid-to-late summer; later at higher elevations.
Huckleberries hold a place in archaic English slang. The tiny size of the berries led to their frequent use as a way of referring to something small, often in an affectionate way. The phrase "a huckleberry over my persimmon" was used to mean "a bit beyond my abilities". "I'm your huckleberry" is a way of saying that one is just the right person for a given job, which was used by the character Doc Holliday in the movie Tombstone. The Huckleberry Railroad is a heritage train located in Flint, Michigan. It ran so slowly that it was said a person could jump off the train, pick huckleberries and jump back on the train with minimum effort.

References

huckleberry in Simple English: Huckleberry
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