Horticulture Magazine

A Comprehensive A-Z List Of Berry Types & Varieties

blackberries, raspberries and strawberries on a mixed background

If you look around while walking through the British countryside it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll come across a berry of some sort.

Many of these are recognisable: blackberries, elderberries, raspberries and the like. Others, less so. Would you be able to tell a mulberry from a tayberry, for example?

Here we’ve pulled together 24 berry types, some of which you may be familiar with, others waiting to be discovered.

All in the list are edible, with the notable exception of elderberries which must be cooked first!

We’ve bunched different varieties of the same berry together (raspberries and black raspberries, for example, or strawberries and pine berries) for ease of navigation.

Acai berry

harvested acai berries being held in two hands
If you believe in superfoods…

Acai berries have been around for a long while but it’s only in recent years that they started to take the western world by storm.

These humble berries, if the packaging of trendy and expensive health foods is to be believed, carries all sorts of benefits. For example, it’s claimed they’ll give you a healthy heart, a boosted immune system, and may even reduce your risk of cancer!

We’ll reserve judgement on those things, but we do know this: acai berries go great in a smoothie or sprinkled over a bowl of porridge.

Barberry

a branch with berberis berries hanging
Be wary of unrecognised berries!

Technically called berberis, these berries are bright red and very eye-catching. Hailing from such a wide region, barberries have found their way into many cuisines around the world.

While they’re mainly disappeared from European dishes in recent years, they’re still a mainstay in the Middle East.

Sugar is often used to reduce the sour hit these berries carry, and their extract is used as a flavouring in a wide range of food items.

Bilberry

hand holding freshly picked bilberries
These look quite familiar, no?

These round blue berries, also called European blueberries for reason, hail from Europe. There’s a lot of debate about where the name came from, with different people contending it’s Scandinavian, or from one of many English dialects.

Wherever the name comes from though, these berries are commonly used in jams, pies, juices and other traditional berry-based fare.

They’re also the base for a liqueur in France, Italy, and Romania (called afinata, after the Romanian name for the fruit).

As with carrots, there are urban myths that World War 2 fighter pilots ate bilberries to improve their night vision, but sadly there’s no proof of their efficacy.

Blackberry

Unripe red blackberries and ripe black blackberries
Unripe red blackberries and ripe black blackberries

We’ve finally arrived at the first of the “main” berries in this list. And by that we mean the ones the average Brit is likely to be able to reliably identify in the wild.

Blackberries are delicious, and because of that you’ll see them everywhere. It’s one of the main squash flavours; countless jams contain it, and so on.

The observant amongst you may have noticed that when you pick a blackberry the centre stays inside the fruit, as opposed to when you pick a raspberry and it stays on the plant.

The presence or absence of this hollow is the best way to distinguish berries, raspberries, and their close relatives.

Blackcurrant

blackberries and blackberry jam on a wooden table
It’s worth taking the time to try these in their natural form

In another article on this website I wrote about how surprised and delighted I was the first time I tried juice made from freshly picked blackcurrants.

When you experience a flavour so often in supermarket-bought products, your appreciation can drift gradually away from the pure version of the fruit.

Blackcurrants, in their pure form, are completely delicious.

These berries are high in vitamin C and make fantastic additions to a huge number of sweet and savoury dishes.

They’re also used in syrups to such a large scale that many farmers grow blackcurrants specifically for this purpose.

Blueberry

harvested blueberries in a small wicker basket
Versatile and delicious

Here’s another instantly recognisable berry, and one that has more than its fair share of fans.

Blueberries are the perfect mix of sweet and tart, and as a result lend themselves perfectly to all sorts of dishes, from porridge to salad.

There are multiple types of blueberry, with their names indicating the types of shrub they grow on.

Canada and the United States jockey for the position of being the world’s largest supplier, with Canada currently leading in lowbush and America in highbush blueberries.

Boysenberries

boysenberries in an oven tray
They’re not ‘boysenous’, don’t worry

The first time I heard this said out loud I thought the person was saying “poison berries” which, when you think about the large number of non-edible berries growing in the world, would’ve made a lot of sense.

It turns out that boysenberries are edible, though.

This berry is an interesting glimpse into the creation of new species by combining existing ones.

After receiving a dewberry-loganberry parent from a farmer he knew, a grower called Rudolph Boysen performed experiments with berry breeding that ended up in the creation of this hybrid.

Each boysenberry is a cross of raspberry, blackberry, dewberry, and loganberry.

Chokeberry

chokeberries hanging from branches
Not the best name for a food…

Is it just us, or is a food named after choking just a little bit off-putting..?

Perhaps we’ll refer to them by their other name instead: aronia. Aronia berries are sour to the point that they’re usually processed before use rather than being eaten raw, as with some others in this list.

The main reasons listed for its cultivation are decorative and ornamental, rather than culinary.

Plenty of food and drink products do derive from chokeberry, but these are fewer and less common than many other berries.

Cloudberry

cloudberry bushes
Today’s forecast: high cloudberry cover

At first the name of this berry sounds a little too poetic, then you see them growing – yearning upward from the foliage beneath, brightly coloured in the same orangey pinky-red of a shepherd’s night sky – and the cloud allusion suddenly makes a lot more sense.

You may also hear this called bakeapple if you live in Newfoundland, knotberry if you’re English, aqpik if you’re Alaskan, and even averin in Scotland.

With so many names it’s maybe surprising that these aren’t better known, but those people in the know enjoy the tart flavour, the almost yogurty texture when ripe, and their ability to pair with all sorts of food.

Cranberry

cranberry sauce and fresh cranberries on a wooden chopping table
Perhaps the most common cranberry format

Apple and orange are probably the most popular juices in the UK, but there’s a certain contingent of people who know the best juice you can find on our supermarket shelves.

That’s right: cranberry juice.

With their perfect balance of tartness and sweetness, cranberries play an important role in our juice shelves.

A grownup drink that’s neither alcoholic nor overpoweringly sweet, but which can be mixed with a selection of spirits to improve them greatly. The perfect drink!

Then, of course, you have cranberry sauce: the world’s favourite turkey accompaniment, enormously popular at Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Elderberry

bowl of elderberries
A bowl of elderberries still on the shared bunch

Any winemakers amongst you will most likely be very familiar with elderberries.

These small, rich purple berries contain an enormous amount of juice for their diminutive size, a fact that combines well with their distinct and subtle flavour to make an excellent homebrew.

The fact that they share a plant with elderflowers, also delicious and also great for brewing, make them a very popular choice for British foragers.

Just be careful, though: uncooked elderberries are poisonous in large quantities! So refrain from snacking on them while you forage, unless you want to make yourself sick.

Gooseberry

gooseberries hanging from their branches
Gooseberries

If there were a list of “berries named after things that aren’t berries,” gooseberries would be at the top.

Nothing about them signifies geese, and even with sensible explanations about the name most likely coming from the German word kruisbes, geese will enter the mind of most people seeing these soft fruits.

Name aside though, gooseberry is a catch-all term to describe several species of ribe, the fruits of which all share a common appearance (if varying in size and colour).

Gooseberry fool is the most famous interpretation of this berry, making best use of its tart, sour, and sweet flavour profile.

You’ll also find it in myriad other dishes though, including a particularly good flavour pairing with mackerel!

Huckleberry

a single huckleberry fruit in focus with foliage
The famous American folk hero..?

We didn’t realise Huckleberry Finn was named after a fruit, but there you go.

The name of this berry – sometimes called hurtleberry or whortleberry in England – is something of a catch-all term to describe berries of a certain size and shape, all belonging to the gaylussacia or vaccinium families.

This berry was historically used for a range of culinary and medicinal purposes by Native American and First Nations communities, and continues to be used in both contexts around the world today.

Juneberry

juneberries hanging from a branch
Looks a little like a red blueberry

Juneberry, full name Amelanchier, AKA chuckley pear, sugarplum, Saskatoon berry, and various others. In short, another berry that goes by a myriad of aliases!

These berries are delicious raw, renowned for the almost almond flavour of their seeds. They’re also popular in jams, wine, pies, and all the usual berry formats we’ve seen so far.

Native Americans used this type of berry as part of a recipe called pemmican, a mix of meat and berries that has very high nutritional value.

Kiwi berry

kiwi berries on a wooden surface
You have to try these

I was delighted to find a punnet of these in one of our fortnightly veg boxes.

I’d not heard of them before, but was immediately converted to their excellence.

Kiwi berries are also called Siberian kiwi, hardy kiwi and – perhaps most appropriately – baby kiwi, and they’re exactly that: tiny versions of the popular fruit that you can eat whole.

That’s right: no faffing about with a knife and teaspoon. No dodging the gristle at the top or the weird white bit in the middle. Just pure, unadulterated kiwi flavour.

Highly, highly recommended.

Lingonberry

small red lingonberries growing outside
Ever been to Ikea..?

Head to any Ikea and you’ll be greeted with the familiar counter serving meatballs, hotdogs, fries and, if you look carefully, lingonberry soda.

This is the first exposure many British folk will get to this berry, but it’s incredibly popular in Scandinavian cuisine.

There, you’ll find lingonberry in jams, juices, syrups, smoothies, and more. The raw fruit is also used as an ingredient or garnish on myriad dishes, from elk steak through to meatballs.

If you get a chance to try this berry outside the corporate confines of Ikea, we highly recommend it.

The distinctive flavour, versatility, and presence in a range of unfamiliar dishes make it a very inviting prospect.

Loganberry

loganberries in sunlight
No one calls this the Wolverineberry… yet

Not to be confused with lingonberry, loganberries are hybrids of blackberries and raspberries.

As a result they look like a slightly elongated, redder blackberry, and taste just how you’d expect from a combination of the two.

This berry mix was created by accident by a man called James Harvey Logan, when his raspberry and blackberry crops – growing quite close to each other – joined forces.

A newspaper report from the time explains that the vines grow more like dewberries than either of the parent berries: obviously quite the exciting feature for any berry enthusiasts amongst us.

Mulberry

harvested mulberries with a wicker basket laid on top
Here we go round the mulberry bush

You can find mulberries growing here in the UK, although they’re far from the most common type of berry we have here.

There are three main varieties: red, white, and black, with each having a fairly distinctive flavour profile.

Reds have a deep sweet juiciness, while their black brethren have more tartness.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of mulberries is that their leaves are favoured by silkworms, giving them a crucial role in the silk industry.

Raspberry

raspberry shrubs
The perfect berry

Go to any market stand or the fruit aisle in any supermarket and you’re guaranteed to see punnets of raspberries.

These plump, red, juicy berries are widely known and loved around the world thanks to their perfectly balanced, sweetly delicious flavour.

Dig deeper though and you’ll discover that there are also black and even yellow raspberry varieties waiting for you to try.

Each lends a different flavour profile to the famous berry, further demonstrating its excellence.

Did you know that after World War 2 when there were lots of food shortages, small bits of wood were added to raspberry flavoured jam products to simulate their pips and trick people into thinking they were eating the real thing?

Redcurrant

redcurrant bushes with fruits in focus
They look a bit risky to the untrained eye

Relatives of other ribes – like gooseberries who we met earlier – redcurrants pack an incredibly bitter punch making it something more of an acquired taste than some other berries in the list.

In jam form, though, it’s definitely a taste that us Brits have acquired!

A slather of redcurrant jam on a joint of lamb – or, if you’re feeling rustic, a piece of game – brings a whole new layer of depth to their flavour.

Salmonberry

salmonberry fruit with spiky hairs
Like a raspberry in its punk phase

Thankfully this isn’t another of Heston Blumenthal’s mad fish crossovers (sardine sorbet, anyone?), but rather a colloquial name of rubus spectabilis, a member of the bramble family.

The name, as you might have guessed, comes from the fact that this berry pairs well with salmon, and was eaten in this context by Native Americans and early explorers of the American continent.

While not too well known nowadays the berry is still tasty, and if you find it while hiking in regions where it grows we recommend trying a handful!

Also keep your eyes peeled for jams and other products containing salmonberry, or for gardens where the plant is grown ornamentally.

Sea buckthorn berry

bright orange sea buckthorn berries
If you like sour, you’ll love this

Head to the coast and you might see bushes bursting with bright orange berries. And if, like us, you didn’t think the seaside was good foraging country, here’s an opportunity to update your opinion.

Sea buckthorn is an incredibly hardy plant that’s able to survive the very wet and windy coastal conditions, and its berry is very, very bitter.

The bitterness is underpinned by a huge sour hit as well, meaning this is not a berry for the faint-hearted!

Keep an eye on craft beer labels for this berry: it’s started appearing very occasionally in sours, gauzes, and similar styles.

Strawberry

many strawberry fruits
You can eat the green bits!

Who hasn’t heard of strawberries?

Along with raspberries and blackberries these are probably the most popular berry in the UK, if not the world.

Their distinctive shape, their deep red hue and, most importantly, their scrumptious flavour guarantees strawberries will remain firm favourites for generations to come.

Just make sure you try an actual, properly ripe strawberry if you never have. Sadly most of the ones in supermarkets are a mere echo of what the berry should be.

Easy to grow in containers or from new runners outside, these fruits are plump, juicy, deep red and completely delicious: a handpicked strawberry at perfect ripeness is an experience unto itself.

Also keep your eyes peeled for pineberries: a cultivar with intriguing colour reversal – a white berry with red pips!

Tayberry

tayberry fruits hanging from the plant
Another hybrid

If you liked the sound of the loganberry then hold onto your hats, because here we have another hybrid between the blackberry and the raspberry.

This time arrived at deliberately rather than accidentally by a man called Derek L Jennings, five years after he patented the idea (who knew you could patent fruit!).

Unlike boysenberries and loganberries who were named after their creators, tayberries are named after the River Tay which flows through Dundee.

A more modest moniker, for sure, and one which is honoured by plaques and statues in the region: proof if you ever need it of the regard in which we hold fruit, and berries in particular, here in the UK.

Berry good!

There you have it: a comprehensive list of the edible berry varieties available. Whether you like sweet or tart, big or small, native or foreign, there’s something for you to enjoy here!

Hopefully this list demonstrates how versatile berries are both in terms of flavour and application.

Eaten raw they’re a tasty, healthy little snack. Processed, they find their way into juices, jams, chutneys, pies, and pretty much any other type of food product you can imagine.

So next time you’re walking through the woods and spot a berry, take a second to find out whether it’s an edible one. And if it is, grab a handful and enjoy!

© 2021 TKO DIGITAL LTD | Registered in England and Wales No. 10866260 | This website uses cookies.