Huckleberry is a name used in North America for several plants in the family Ericaceae, in two closely related genera: Vaccinium and Gaylussacia. The huckleberry is the state fruit of Idaho.
While some Vaccinium species, such as Vaccinium parvifolium, 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).
The fruit of the various species of plant called huckleberry is generally edible. The berries are small and round, 5-10 mm in diameter and look like blue berries. 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- and purple-colored varieties. However, huckleberries have a noticeable, distinct taste different from blueberries. Huckleberries are enjoyed by many mammals, including grizzly bears and humans.
In coastal Central California and Northern California of the United States, the red huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium) is found in the Coast Redwood plant community. A prostrate form occurs also. In the Pacific Northwest of North America, the huckleberry plant grows in many places. It 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 bushes can be as high as 1.5 to 2 metres (4.9 to 6.6 ft), and usually ripen in mid-to-late summer, or later at higher elevations. The Red Huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium) is used horticulturally in coastal naturalistic and native plant public landscapes and private gardens.
Use in slang
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. A similar saying was used by the American dentist, gambler and gunfighter of the American Old West, Doc Holliday who would regularly use the term "I'll be your huckleberry." This may have been merely slang of the period for "I'm your best gun/man."
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