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 Vaccinium subsp. var.  Incl: blueberries, cranberries, huckleberries, lingonberries
Vaccinium corymbosum
Habit: [[Category:]]
Height: to
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Lifespan: perennial
Origin: N Hemisphere and S Africa
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USDA Zones: to
Sunset Zones:
Flower features:
Ericaceae > Vaccinium var. ,

Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture

Vaccinium (ancient Latin name of the blueberry). Ericaceae. Blueberries, Bilberries, Deerberries, and Cranberries. Erect or creeping shrubs, often with green speckled twigs, well known in this country as the source of excellent wild berries; sometimes planted for ornament.

Leaves alternate, evergreen or deciduous, coriaceous or herbaceous: fls. solitary, axillary or terminal or in racemes; sepals 4-5 or obsolete; corolla gamopetalous, urceolate, cylindrical, campanulate, or rotate, 4-5-toothed or -parted, white or pink; stamens 8-10; anthers dehiscing by pores at the tips of long slender terminal tubes, epigynous: carpels 4-5; ovary inferior, 4-5-celled, or 8-10-celled by intrusion of the midrib of each carpel: fr. a many-seeded berry capped by the persistent calyx.—The genus consists of about 130 species of wide geographic distribution, extending from the Arctic Circle to the higher mountains of the tropics. They are most common in North America and the Himalayas. The genus is almost without representation in the southern hemisphere.

The well-known confusion in the popular names applied to Vaccinium is stated by Munson as follows: "The terms 'bilberry' and 'whortleberry' usually mentioned as 'common names' by American writers are seldom or never heard among the common people in this country; while 'huckleberry' is often used indiscriminately for plants of this genus and for the Gaylussacias. In the central states the term 'huckleberry' is usually applied to V. corymbosum, while 'blueberry' is given to the low-growing species, like V. canadensis and V. pennsylvanicum. In New England, 'huckleberry' is reserved for species of Gaylussacia, while 'blueberry' is applied to the lower-growing species as above, and 'high-bush blueberry’ to V. corymbosum. The red-berried species are, in general, referred to as 'cranberries.'"

Among the plants that lend tone to the landscape in October and November by reason of their bright foliage, many of the species of Vaccinium may be included—the brilliant red, crimson, and orange colors often persisting much longer than the bright-hued leaves of a large number of other plants. Of the ornamental species none is more strikingly beautiful late in the autumn than the common high-bush blueberry, V. corymbosum. When well grown it is a stout, thick, spreading bush 8 to 10 feet high. The plant is beautiful when in flower; the fruit is attractive and of the best quality, and the bright scarlet and crimson effects in late autumn, rivaling the sumach in brilliancy, are unsurpassed. As an ornamental plant the species deserves a place in every garden. V. pennsylvanicum also brightens waste places for a short time, but drops its foliage too early to be worthy of planting as an undershrub. The same is true of V. canadense, which is in many respects similar. V. stamineum, though early deciduous, is attractive when in bloom and throughout the summer by reason of its graceful habit. It is particularly adapted for sterile sandy or gravelly situations, and it is one of the very few ornamental shrubs specially suited for densely shaded situations. It has the peculiarity of never forming a true flower- bud, the blossom being open from the first. V. arboreum forms an irregular shrub too diffuse and straggling to be of value except when planted in masses at the South. V. hirsutum is as beautiful in its autumn coloring as is V. corymbosum and, like that species, retains its foliage late in the season. V. Vitis-Idaea and V. uliginosum, with their shining box-like foliage, can be used very effectively as edging for the shrubbery border.

For the most part, vacciniums are plants of peaty or sandy acid soil, and will not thrive in soils of a richer nature. Many species are very sensitive to the presence of lime, and they require special attention as to soil. See Blueberry.

Quoted statements in the specific descriptions in the following treatment are from the original article on this genus by the late W. M. Munson in the "Cyclopedia of American Horticulture;" that article also gives an interesting account of the native production of the fruit.

The above text is from the Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture. It may be out of date, but still contains valuable and interesting information which can be incorporated into the remainder of the article. Click on "Collapse" in the header to hide this text.

The genus includes about 450 species of shrubs, small trees and vines which may be evergreen and deciduous. Genus includes blueberries, cranberries, and huckleberries. Most species have small and often colorful fruits, some of which are edible. Flowers can be attractive, tend to be small, face downward, have an urn-shape, and can come individually or in clusters. Most have simple leaves which are oval to lance-shaped. The tips of the leaves are frequently pointed, and the edges sometimes have serration.


Vaccinium like moist, cool, well-drained soil that is rich in humus and acidic. They need protection from very hot summer sun. Conditions suitable to rhododendrons and camellias also tend to keep Vaccinium happy. Rather shrubby species ought to be shaped by pruning: after flowering when fruit is not needed, or else at harvest.


You can propagate from seed, cuttings, layering and sometimes division.

Pests and diseases

Do you have pest and disease info on this plant? Edit this section!


A classification which predates molecular phylogeny divides Vaccinium into subgenera, and several sections:

Subgenus Oxycoccus
The cranberries, with slender, trailing, wiry non-woody shoots and strongly reflexed flower petals. Some botanists treat Oxycoccus as a distinct genus.
Subgenus Vaccinium
All the other species, with thicker, upright woody shoots and bell-shaped flowers.


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  • Flora: The Gardener's Bible, by Sean Hogan. Global Book Publishing, 2003. ISBN 0881925381

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