Garden Huckleberry aka Solanum nigrum aka Wonder Berry is a fruiting annual in the night shade family. The unripe fruit and leaves are toxic, so make sure you only pick totally ripe fruit.
I did find one article online stating that wonder berry and garden huckleberry were indeed different plants and had a different taste. Most articles refer to them as the same thing as do my seed packages.
Garden Huckleberries like full sun and two to three feet between plants.
I planted mine by seed in February and moved them outside to the garden in May. Now at the end of July the plants are two-foot-high and three foot around with lots of berries on them that are just starting to ripen.
Eat only the very ripe fruits, which are soft, juicy and very dark purple/black. Some say to wait until they go from a shiny black to a dull black color before harvesting. Also, make sure you are using seed or plants from a known edible variety. There are a lot of look a likes out there.
The fruit is not the tastiest when eaten raw but the taste is said to improve after a light frost or two. They are much better when cooked with sugar and made into a jam, jelly, or pie.
This is an annual and propagation is done by seed.
The whole plant is antiperiodic, antiphlogistic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emollient, febrifuge, narcotic, purgative and sedative. It is harvested in the autumn when both flowers and fruit are upon the plant, and is dried for later use. Use with caution, see notes above on toxicity. The leaves, stems and roots are used in the treatment of cancerous sores, leucoderma and wounds. Extracts of the plant are analgesic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and vasodilator. The plant has been used in the manufacture of locally analgesic ointments and the juice of the fruit has been used as an analgesic for toothaches. *
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Garden Huckleberry Pie
4c garden huckleberry
1 ½ c sugar
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp butter
1 lemon (juice only)
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 pie crusts
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Stem, wash and drain huckleberries.
Place berries in a heavy pot, cover with cold water and bring to a slow boil.
Cook until soft.
Drain; mash berries with a potato masher to break their skins.
Add sugar, nutmeg, salt, butter, lemon juice and cornstarch.
Cook for about five minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens.
Place pastry for bottom crust in pie pan.
Pour in the berry mixture and dot with butter.
Cover with top crust, crimping crust edges to seal and piercing top crust all over with a fork to allow steam to escape.
Bake for 45 minutes or until the crust is a light brown.
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Photos taken by Great Escape Farms
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