Huckleberry plants are shrubs that reach heights between 2 and 6 feet and grow in shaded areas of forests. Though the leaves of huckleberry plants vary in size and shape depending on the species, they are typically thin and have pointed tips. Huckleberry plants form pink, bell-shaped flowers during the spring and bear fruit during the summer and early autumn months. Huckleberries can be blue, red or black; each berry contains 10 large seeds.
Huckleberry plants belong to the Ericaceae family and have two distinct genera, Gaylussacia and Vaccinium. Species of huckleberry plants belonging to the Gaylussacia genus inhabit the eastern United States, while those in the Vaccinium genus are found in the western United States, ranging from central California to Montana. In the western United States, huckleberry plants prefer to grow in damp, acidic soil and are found in elevations as high as 11,500 feet.
Huckberries have a long history as a resource in the United States, stemming back before recorded history. Native Americans first gathered huckleberries for food and traditional medicine prior to the arrival of European immigrants. After the arrival of European immigrants, huckleberries continued to be used in various dishes such as puddings, jellies and pies.