Vaccinium virgatum (commonly known as either rabbit-eye blueberry or southern black blueberry ) is a species of blueberry native to the Southeastern United States, from North Carolina south to Florida and west to Texas.
Vaccinium virgatum is a deciduous shrub growing to 3 to 6 feet tall and with up to a 3 foot spread. The leaves are spirally arranged, oblate to narrow elliptic, 3 inches long and start out red-bronze in the spring only to develop into a dark-green. The flowers are white, bell-shaped, 5 mm long. The fruit is a berry 5 mm diameter, dark blue to black, bloomed pale blue-gray by a thin wax coating.
Vaccinium virgatum is self-infertile, and must have two or more varieties to pollenize each other. Honeybees are inefficient pollinators, and carpenter bees frequently cut the corollas to rob nectar without pollinating the flowers. V. virgatum does best when pollinated by buzz pollination by bees, such as the native southeastern blueberry bee, Habropoda laboriosa.
Vaccinium virgatum grows best on acid soil and is subject to few pests and diseases. Because it is not self-fruitful, two compatible varieties should be planted next to each other to maintain growth and fruiting. If maintained with mulching, it may endure temperatures as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit. The plants mature to heights from 3 to 6 feet, with a width of up to 3 feet. The plant has few insect or disease problems, however birds and squirrels consume its fruit.
- Vaccinium virgatum was originally described and published in Hortus Kewensis 2:12. 1789. (V. amoenum, which was later determined to be a synonym of V. virgatum, was also described in the same publication.) GRIN (January 14, 2006). "Vaccinium virgatum information from NPGS/GRIN". Taxonomy for Plants. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland: USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
- GRIN (January 14, 2006). "Vaccinium virgatum information from NPGS/GRIN". Taxonomy for Plants. National Germplasm Resources Laboratory, Beltsville, Maryland: USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Retrieved July 8, 2012.
- Bruce Asakawa; Sharon Asakawa (3 September 2001). California Gardener's Guide. Cool Springs Press. pp. 44–45. ISBN 978-1-930604-47-6. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
- Maria Rosana Ramirez, Leandra Guterres, Odila E. Dickel, Micheli R. de Castro, Amelia T. Henriques, Márcia M. de Souza, Daniela Martí Barros "Preliminary Studies on the Antinociceptive Activity of Vaccinium ashei Berry in Experimental Animal Models." Journal of Medicinal Food. April 2010: 336-342