Mortiño. Throughout most of the Andean sierra at elevations between 2,800 and 4,000 m, the mortiño6 (Vaccinium floribundum) is abundant. This “blueberry of the Andes” remains undomesticated, but given research it, too, could have a future in cultivation and widespread commerce.
The plant is especially profuse in the northern Andes—in Colombia, Bolivia, and Venezuela—where it occurs mainly at elevations from 1,800 to 3,800 m. It is not cultivated, but its fruits are gathered from wild bushes and sold in village and city markets. In Ecuador it is eaten raw, made into preserves, and used in a special dish with molasses, spices, and other chopped fruits on “The Day of the Dead” (November 2, All Souls' Day). In some areas its ripening season is the occasion for picnics, the people going together into the countryside to pick and eat the fruit.
The mortiño is a slender shrub. Some specimens grow 2–3 m high, others are dwarf and prostrate. Pink flowers and deep green foliage give it a handsome appearance. Its round berry is blue to nearly black, very glaucous (covered in a whitish bloom like grapes), and up to