Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.)

 

Vaccinium is a genus of shrubs or dwarf shrubs in the plant Family
Ericaceae. The genus contains about 450 species.

 

Species of Vaccinium are found mostly in the cooler areas of the North-

ern Hemisphere, although there are tropical species from areas as widely
separated as Madagascar and Hawaii.

 

The fruit of many species are eaten by humans and some are of commer-
cial importance, including the cranberry, blueberry, bilberry or whortle-
berry, lingonberry or cowberry, and huckleberry.

 

The Atlas of Virginia Flora lists four species of Genus Vaccinium as

occurring in Facquier County: 1) Vaccinium formosum Andr., 2)

Vaccinium fuscatum Ait., 3) Vaccinium pallidum Ait., and 4)

Vaccinium stamineum L. At this time, no specific taxonomic design-

ation can be assigned to the species of Vaccinium growing in Sky

Meadows Park.

 

The following general information pertaining to Genus Vaccinium

(Blueberries) is from Wikipedia.

 

Blueberries are flowering plants of the genus Vaccinium (a genus which
also includes cranberries and bilberries) with dark-blue berries and is a
perennial. Species of Cyanococcus are the most common fruits sold as
"blueberries" and are mainly native to North America. They are usually
erect but sometimes prostrate shrubs varying in size from 10 centimetres
(3.9 in) to 4 metres (160 in) tall. In commercial blueberry production,
smaller species are known as "lowbush blueberries" (synonymous with
"wild"), and the larger species are known as "highbush blueberries". The
leaves can be either deciduous or evergreen, ovate to lanceolate, and 1–8
centimetres (0.39–3.1 in) long and 0.5–3.5 centimetres (0.20–1.4 in)

broad. The flowers are bell-shaped, white, pale pink or red, sometimes

tinged greenish.

 

The fruit is a berry 5–16 millimetres (0.20–0.63 in) diameter with a flared
crown at the end; they are pale greenish at first, then reddish-purple, and
finally indigo when ripe. They have a sweet taste when mature, with vari-
able acidity. Blueberry bushes typically bear fruit in the middle of the grow-
ing season: fruiting times are affected by local conditions such as altitude
and latitude, so the height of the crop can vary from May to August depend-
ing upon these conditions.

 

Commercially offered "wild blueberries" are usually from species that natu-
rally occur only in eastern and north-central North America. Other sections
in the genus, native to other parts of the world, including western North
America, South America, Europe, and Asia, include other wild shrubs pro-
ducing similar-looking edible berries, such as huckleberries (North
America) and bilberries (Europe). These species are sometimes called
"blueberries" and sold as blueberry jam or other products.

 

Blueberries may be cultivated, or they may be picked from semi-wild or
wild bushes. In North America, the most common cultivated species is
Vaccinium corymbosum, the Northern highbush blueberry. Hybrids of
this with other Vaccinium species adapted to southern U.S. climates are
known collectively as Southern highbush blueberries.

 

So-called "wild" (lowbush) blueberries, smaller than cultivated highbush
ones, are prized for their intense color. The lowbush blueberry, Vaccinium
angustifolium, is found from the Atlantic provinces westward to Quebec
and southward to Michigan and West Virginia. In some areas, it produces
natural "blueberry barrens", where it is the dominant species covering
large areas. Several First Nations communities in Ontario are involved in
harvesting wild blueberries. Lowbush species are fire-tolerant and blue-
berry production often increases following a forest fire, as the plants regen-
erate rapidly and benefit from removal of competing vegetation. "Wild"
has been adopted as a marketing term for harvests of managed native
stands of low-bush blueberries. The bushes are not planted or genetically
manipulated, but they are pruned or burned over every two years, and
pests are "managed".

 

In Sky Meadows Park, Vaccinium species have been observed on the

South Ridge and North Ridge Trails, as well as Snowden and Rolling

Meadows and Lost Mountain Trails.

 

 

Back to Inventory of Shrub Families and Species

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