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Whortleberry vs. Blueberry — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Fiza Rafique — Updated on March 10, 2024
Whortleberry refers to various wild, European berries similar to blueberries but smaller, while blueberry is a cultivated berry, larger and native to North America, known for its sweet flavor.
Whortleberry vs. Blueberry — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Whortleberry and Blueberry


Key Differences

Whortleberry, often found in Europe's wild regions, encompasses a variety of small, dark berries that are closely related to the blueberry family. These berries are known for their tart flavor and are smaller in size compared to their cultivated counterparts. Blueberry, on the other hand, refers to several species of large, sweet berries that are primarily grown in North America and have become popular worldwide due to their flavor and nutritional benefits.
The whortleberry is adapted to grow in poor, acidic soils often found in heathlands and moorlands, making it a hardy plant that thrives in wild, natural environments. Blueberries are cultivated in managed agricultural environments, optimized for berry production, which results in larger, juicier fruits. This cultivation process has led to the development of various sizes and flavors of blueberries, catering to different culinary needs and tastes.
Nutritionally, both berries are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, contributing to their reputation as healthy food choices. However, the wild nature of whortleberries might contribute to a slightly higher concentration of certain antioxidants due to the plants' adaptation to harsher growing conditions, whereas blueberries, especially cultivated varieties, are praised for their uniform taste and size, making them more consistent in nutritional content.
Culinarily, whortleberries are often used in traditional European dishes, including pies, jams, and beverages, offering a distinct, tart flavor that contrasts with the sweeter, more versatile taste of blueberries. Blueberries' sweetness and larger size make them a favored ingredient in a wide range of dishes, from breakfast cereals to desserts and smoothies.
In terms of availability, whortleberries are more commonly found in their natural habitats or specialty markets, mainly during their short growing season. Blueberries, due to their widespread cultivation, are available year-round in many parts of the world, both fresh and frozen, making them a more accessible option for consumers.

Comparison Chart


Smaller, varied sizes.
Larger, more uniform sizes.


Tart, intense.
Sweet, mild.


Wild, acidic soils in heathlands and moorlands.
Cultivated in agricultural settings.

Nutritional Value

High in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals.
Similar, but with more consistent nutritional content due to cultivation.

Culinary Uses

Traditional dishes, pies, jams.
Versatile, used in a wide range of dishes.


Seasonal, in natural habitats or specialty markets.
Year-round, widely available fresh or frozen.


North America.

Compare with Definitions


A small, dark, tart berry found in the wild across Europe.
We picked whortleberries during our hike in the moors, planning to make jam.


A large, sweet berry cultivated mainly in North America.
The blueberry harvest was bountiful this year, promising plenty of pies and jams.


Offers nutritional benefits, including antioxidants.
Whortleberries are not just tasty; they're packed with health-boosting antioxidants.


Grown in agricultural environments, leading to larger fruits.
The cultivated blueberries are significantly larger than their wild cousins.


Seasonally harvested, often by foraging.
The annual whortleberry harvest is a cherished local tradition.


Used in a wide variety of culinary applications.
Blueberries are versatile, enhancing everything from breakfast cereals to elegant desserts.


Thrives in poor, acidic soils, making it a hardy plant.
Whortleberries are abundant here, thriving in the heathland's acidic soil.


Available year-round, fresh or frozen.
Even in winter, we enjoy blueberries in our smoothies, thanks to their availability as frozen fruit.


Known for its intense flavor, used in traditional European cuisine.
The tartness of the whortleberry perfectly complements the sweetness in the pie.


Popular worldwide for its flavor and nutritional benefits.
Blueberries have become a staple in health-conscious diets around the globe.


Whortleberry may refer to the berries of several plants of genus Vaccinium:


Blueberries are a widely distributed and widespread group of perennial flowering plants with blue or purple berries. They are classified in the section Cyanococcus within the genus Vaccinium.


A bilberry.


A small sweet blue-black edible berry which grows in clusters on North American shrubs related to the bilberry.


Any of various deciduous shrubs of the genus Vaccinium of the heath family having edible blue, black, or red berries, especially the bilberry.


One of the dwarf shrubs that produces blueberries, some kinds being cultivated for their fruit or as ornamentals.


The fruit of any of these plants.


Any of various plants of the genus Vaccinium, having white to reddish, urn-shaped or tubular flowers and edible blue to blue-black berries, especially the highbush blueberry and the lowbush blueberry.


Any of several shrubs belonging to the genus Vaccinium:


The fruit of any of these plants.


Vaccinium myrtillus (bilberry or blue whortleberry);


A usually blue-gray spherule that is found in soil and sedimentary rock and is rich in hematite, produced by the weathering of rock or by precipitation from rock by moving groundwater.


Vaccinium vitis-idaea (lingonberry or red whortleberry);


(countable) An edible round berry, belonging to the cowberry group (Vaccinium sect. Cyanococcus), with flared crowns at the end, that turns blue on ripening.


Vaccinium uliginosum (bog whortleberry or bilberry).


(countable) The shrub of the above-mentioned berry.


A berry of one of these shrubs.


A dark blue colour.


In England, the fruit of Vaccinium Myrtillus; also, the plant itself. See Bilberry, 1.


Of a dark blue colour.


Erect European blueberry having solitary flowers and blue-black berries


To gather or forage for blueberries.


Blue-black berries similar to American blueberries


The berry of several species of Vaccinium, an ericaceous genus, differing from the American huckleberries in containing numerous minute seeds instead of ten nutlets. The commonest species are Vaccinium Pennsylvanicum and Vaccinium vacillans. Vaccinium corymbosum is the tall blueberry.


Any of numerous shrubs of the genus Vaccinium bearing blueberries


Sweet edible dark-blue berries of either low-growing or high-growing blueberry plants

Common Curiosities

Can whortleberries and blueberries be used interchangeably in recipes?

While they can be substituted for each other, the flavor difference (tart vs. sweet) should be considered in the recipe's overall taste profile.

Are whortleberries the same as wild blueberries?

Whortleberries are similar to wild blueberries but are distinct species found in Europe, known for their smaller size and tart flavor.

How do the nutritional benefits of whortleberries and blueberries compare?

Both are high in antioxidants and vitamins, though the wild nature of whortleberries may offer slightly different nutritional profiles due to their growing conditions.

Can whortleberries be cultivated like blueberries?

While there may be attempts to cultivate whortleberries, they are primarily wild berries, and their cultivation would not necessarily yield the same results as with blueberries, given their preference for specific natural habitats.

What are the main culinary uses of whortleberries?

Whortleberries are often used in traditional European dishes such as pies, jams, and beverages, valued for their tartness and flavor depth.

How has the cultivation of blueberries impacted their availability and price?

The cultivation of blueberries has greatly increased their availability, making them accessible year-round at competitive prices, unlike their wild counterparts.

Why are blueberries more commonly found in supermarkets?

Blueberries are widely cultivated and harvested in large quantities, making them more accessible and available year-round compared to the seasonally foraged whortleberries.

What makes blueberries a popular choice for health-conscious individuals?

Blueberries are favored for their high antioxidant content, including vitamin C and K, fiber, and phytonutrients, which are linked to various health benefits.

How do the tastes of whortleberries and blueberries differ in desserts?

Whortleberries bring a tart and intense flavor to desserts, offering a contrast that can enhance the overall taste, while blueberries provide a sweet and mild flavor, making them versatile in a wide range of dessert recipes.

Is there a best time of year to forage for whortleberries?

The best time to forage for whortleberries is typically in late summer, when they are ripe and abundant in their natural habitats.

Can blueberries grow in the wild, or are they only cultivated?

While the blueberries commonly found in stores are cultivated, there are also wild varieties of blueberries that grow in forests and other natural environments.

How do the storage requirements of whortleberries and blueberries compare?

Both whortleberries and blueberries should be stored in a cool, dry place, usually in the refrigerator, to extend their freshness. However, as whortleberries are not commonly available commercially, they are often consumed quickly after foraging, whereas blueberries, being more readily available, may require longer storage.

Are there any specific health benefits associated with whortleberries?

Whortleberries share many of the same health benefits as blueberries, including being rich in antioxidants which can help reduce inflammation and improve heart health.

What are the environmental requirements for growing blueberries successfully?

Blueberries require acidic soil, ample sunlight, and well-drained soil to grow successfully, conditions that are carefully managed in agricultural settings.

Are there any notable cultural significances associated with whortleberries?

In some European cultures, whortleberries have historical significance, with foraging seen as a traditional activity and the berries used in local folklore and herbal medicine.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.

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