Vaccinium angustifolium

Vaccinium angustifolium

Common Names

Blueberry (English), Late Sweet Blueberry (English), Low Sweet Blueberry (English), Lowbush Blueberry (English), Sweethurts (English), Upland Lowbush Blueberry (English), Late Lowbush Blueberry (English)

Languages: English

Conservation

Conservation Status

This plant is listed by the U.S. federal government or a state. Common names are from state and federal lists. In Iowa low sweet blueberry is listed as Threatened. (USDA PLANTS, 2009)

Author(s): Beck, Nicholas
Rights holder(s): Beck, Nicholas

Description

Morphology

Overall this is a low shrub. (Hultman, 1978) The plant is an erect shrub. (Peattie, 1930) It is a low, straggling shrub form. (NPIN, 2007) Roots are shallow and fibrous but may possess a taproot. (USDA FEIS, 1991)

Flowers are white and bell-like. (Hultman, 1978) Flowers have 10 stamens. Racemes (common pedicels) are short, about 5-flowered. The corolla is green, or greenish bordered with red and cylindric-urn-shaped. (Peattie, 1930) Small, white, pink-tinged, bell-shaped flowers. (NPIN, 2007) Flowers are white, 5-parted, and urn-shaped. The lobes are shorter than the tube. (UW, 2009)

Fruit Dark blue berries are covered with a white powder, have many seeds, and are edible. (Hultman, 1978) The fruit are oblate-spheroid a bloom. They are sweet and edible. (Peattie, 1930) Fruit are blue, shiny berries with many seeds. (UW, 2009)

Leaves are egg-shaped and may have a few bristle-tipped teeth. They become leathery with age. (Hultman, 1978) Leaf margins are entire. Leaves are oblong-lanceolate to lanceolate, spatulate or elliptic, acute, and narrowed at base. The margin is sharply serrulate, sparingly pubescent on both surfaces at first, finally smooth or nearly smooth. (Peattie, 1930) Glossy foliage turns from red-green in spring to dark blue-green in summer to maroon-purple in fall. (NPIN, 2007) Leaves are deciduous, smooth, and narrowly elliptical with tiny, sharp teeth. (UW, 2009)

Stems branches and branchlets are wrinkled, yellowish green, and pubescent at least in lines. (Peattie, 1930) Multiple stems have twiggy branches. (NPIN, 2007)

Author(s): Beck, Nicholas
Rights holder(s): Beck, Nicholas

Size

Plant is up to 3' tall. (Hultman, 1978) Plant is less than a meter tall, being 25-50 cm tall. (Peattie, 1930) The plant is usually 6" to 2' tall and wide. (NPIN, 2007) Plants can be 2"-14" tall. (UW, 2009)

Flowers are 3/8" long. (UW, 2009)

Fruit 9-15 mm thick. (Peattie, 1930)

Leaves 1.5-2". (Hultman, 1978)

Author(s): Beck, Nicholas
Rights holder(s): Beck, Nicholas

Ecology and Distribution

Distribution

USA: CT , DE , IL , IN , IA , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , TN , VT , VA , WV , WI (NPIN, 2007)

Canada: MB , NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC , SK (NPIN, 2007)

Native Distribution: Lab. to Sask., s. to New England, DE, WV, OH, n. IL & IA (NPIN, 2007)

USDA Native Status: L48(N), CAN(N), SPM(N) (NPIN, 2007)

Author(s): Beck, Nicholas
Rights holder(s): Beck, Nicholas

Habitat

Thickets and dry woods, particularly with acid soils. (Hultman, 1978) Native habitat consitutes open, conifer woods, sandy or rocky balds, and old fields. (NPIN, 2007) Habitat can be moist to dry. This can include woods, forests, bogs, and clearings. It can grow in rocky or sandy soil. (UW, 2009)

Author(s): Beck, Nicholas
Rights holder(s): Beck, Nicholas

Cyclicity

Blooming occurs April through June. Fruit is born June through September. (Hultman, 1978) The plant flowers in May and fruits in July. (Peattie, 1930) The active growth period is Spring and Summer. The fruit/seed period begins in the Summer and ends in the Summer. (USDA PLANTS, 2009) Bloom time is May and June. (NPIN, 2007)

Author(s): Beck, Nicholas
Rights holder(s): Beck, Nicholas

Life Expectancy

This is a perennial. (USDA PLANTS, 2009)

Author(s): Beck, Nicholas
Rights holder(s): Beck, Nicholas

Dispersal

Plants often form large colonies. (UW, 2009)

Author(s): Beck, Nicholas
Rights holder(s): Beck, Nicholas

Ecology

Low sweet blueberry occurs as an understory dominant or codominant in a
variety of forest communities. Common overstory dominants include
eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), jack pine (P. banksiana), sugar
maple (Acer saccharum), red maple (A. rubrum), and northern red oak
(Quercus rubra). Common codominants include Canada beadruby
(Maianthemum canadense), pointed-leaved tick trefoil (Desmodium
glutinosum), mapleleaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium), and hairgrass
(Deschampsia spp.). Low sweet blueberry is listed as an indicator or
dominant species in the following habitat type classifications. (USDA FEIS, 1991)

This species is highly fire resilient in both natural and artificial regimes. Fire treatment may be used to enhance fruiting, which is low the first season and high for the following three. The causility is debated and may range from increased nutrients, favorable pH, increased heat from black soil, and reduction of competitors. (USDA FEIS, 1991)

Author(s): Beck, Nicholas
Rights holder(s): Beck, Nicholas

Associations

The berries are relished by wildlife and humans alike, particularly birds. (NPIN, 2007) Cross-pollination by insects is necessary for good fruit set. (USDA FEIS, 1991)

The black bear, moose, eastern cottontail, and white-tailed deer feed
on the foliage. Domestic sheep commonly avoid low sweet blueberry
browse. Flowers and fruit are readily eaten by a wide variety of birds
and mammals. Mammal species include black bear, red fox, raccoon, red-backed vole, white-footed mouse, fox squirrel, red squirrel, eastern spotted skunk, gray fox, and many species of chipmunks and mice. Birds include ptarmigan, American robin, common crow, wild turkey, ruffed grouse,
spruce grouse, gray catbird, brown thrasher, rufous-sided towhee,
northern mockingbird, black-capped chickadee, red-cockaded woodpecker,
starling, cardinal, scarlet tanager, Canada goose, herring gull,
whimbrel, quail, and thrushes, and eastern bluebird. (USDA FEIS, 1991)

The reproductive success of black bears has been particularly correlated
to annual blueberry crops. Poor blueberry crops can limit black bear
reproductive success as well as overall survival in some regions. Bear depredations such as damage to crops and beehives and livestock losses typically increase during poor berry years. (USDA FEIS, 1991)

Author(s): Beck, Nicholas
Rights holder(s): Beck, Nicholas

Relevance

Uses

Berries are edible. (Hultman, 1978) Berries are sweet and edible. (Peattie, 1930) Native American uses include the following. Infusion of leaves given to infants for colic, used by women after a miscarriage, and as a blood purifier. Infusion of roots used by women to induce labor. Fruits eaten for food in a variety of preparations and used ceremonially by those desiring health and prosperity for the coming season. (UM, 2009)

Fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, natural sugars,
niacin, and manganese. The berries are relatively high in
carbohydrates and soluble solids but contain little sodium or fat. Fruit averages approximately 41 calories per 0.5 cup, with sugar concentration ranging from 0.03 to 0.34 percent. Accordingly the overall nutrient value is rated as moderately low. (USDA FEIS, 1991)

Author(s): Beck, Nicholas
Rights holder(s): Beck, Nicholas

References

Hultman, E. G. (1978).  Trees, Shrubs and Flowers of the Midwest. 324. Chicago: Contemporary Books, Inc..
Kartesz, J. T., & Biota_of_North_America_Program (2009).   USDA PLANTS Profile: Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton, Lowbush blueberry.
Peattie, D C. (1930).  Flora of the Indiana dunes, a handbook of the flowering plants and ferns of the lake Michigan Coast of Indiana and of the Calumet District. 432 . Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History.
Staff, TWC. (2007).  NPIN: Vaccinium angustifolium (Late lowbush blueberry).
Tirmenstein, D. A. (1991).  USDA FEIS: Vaccinium angustifolium.
University_of_Michigan_(Dearborn_Herbarium) (2009).  Native American Ethnobotany: Vaccinium angustifolium.
University_of_Wisconsin_Stevens_Point_Freckmann_Herbarium (2009).  Vaccinium angustifolium: UW-Stevens Point Freckmann Herbarium: Plant Details Page.