Vaccinium

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Vaccinium
Vaccinium berries, from top left clockwise:
Red huckleberries, cranberries, lingonberries and blueberries
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Ericaceae
Subfamily: Vaccinioideae
Tribe: Vaccinieae
Genus: Vaccinium
L.
Type species
Vaccinium uliginosum[1]
Species

See text

Vaccinium /vækˈsɪniəm/[2] is a genus of shrubs or dwarf shrubs in the plant Family Ericaceae. The fruit of many species are eaten by humans and some are of commercial importance, including the cranberry, blueberry, bilberry or whortleberry, lingonberry or cowberry, and huckleberry. Like many other ericaceous plants, they are generally restricted to acidic soils.

Distribution[edit]

The genus contains about 450 species, which are found mostly in the cooler areas of the Northern Hemisphere, although there are tropical species from areas as widely separated as Madagascar and Hawaii.

Etymology[edit]

The name vaccinium was used in classical Latin for a plant, possibly the bilberry or a hyacinth, and may be derived from the Latin bacca, berry, although its ultimate derivation is obscure.[3][4] It is not the same word as vaccinum "of or pertaining to cows".[5]

Characteristics[edit]

Plants of this group typically require acidic soils, and as wild plants they live in habitats such as heath, bog and acidic woodland (for example, blueberries under oaks or pines). The plant structure varies between species – some trail along the ground, some are dwarf shrubs, and some are larger shrubs perhaps 1 to 2 m (3 to 7 ft) tall. The fruit develops from an inferior ovary, and is a berry; it is usually brightly coloured, often being red or bluish with purple juice.

Blueberry plants are commonly found in oak-heath forests in eastern North America.[6][7]

The metabolism and photosynthetic parameters of Vaccinium can also slightly alter in winter-warming experiments.[8]

Food uses[edit]

Vaccinium species are used as food plants by the larvae of a number of Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) species – see list of Lepidoptera that feed on Vaccinium.

Taxonomy[edit]

The taxonomy is complex, and still under investigation. Genetic analysis indicates that the genus Vaccinium is not monophyletic.[9] A number of the Asian species are more closely related to Agapetes than to other Vaccinium species.[9][10] A second group includes most of Orthaea and Notopora, at least some of Gaylussacia (huckleberry), and a number of species from Vaccinium, such as Vaccinium crassifolium.[9] Other parts of Vaccinium form other groups, sometimes together with species of other genera.[9]Vaccinium's taxonomy can either be resolved by enlarging the genus to include the entirety of the Vaccinieae tribe, or by braking the genus up into several different genera.[9]

Subgenera[edit]

Vaccinium oxycoccos, the common cranberry, one kind of cranberry

A classification predating 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.

Production[edit]

Harvest cranberries, New Jersey, United States

Production tonnes. Figures 2003–2004
FAOSTAT data (FAO)

United States 280,503 80 % 270,000 78 %
Canada 52,651 15 % 53,400 16 %
Belarus 8,000 2 % 10,000 3 %
Latvia 8,000 2 % 8,000 2 %
Azerbaijan 2,000 1 % 1,500 0 %
Ukraine 1,000 0 % 1,000 0 %
Tunisia 50 0 % 50 0 %
Turkey 50 0 % 50 0 %
Total 352 254 100 % 344 000 100 %

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Vaccinium Linnaeus". Index Nominum Genericorum. International Association for Plant Taxonomy. 2003-02-05. Retrieved 2008-05-09. 
  2. ^ Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
  3. ^ Hyam, R. & Pankhurst, R.J. (1995). Plants and their names : a concise dictionary. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-866189-4.  p. 515.
  4. ^ Coombes, Allen J. (1994). Dictionary of Plant Names. London: Hamlyn Books. ISBN 978-0-600-58187-1.  p. 187.
  5. ^ P.G.W. Glare, ed. (1996). Oxford Latin Dictionary. p. 2000. ISBN 0-19-864224-5. 
  6. ^ The Natural Communities of Virginia Classification of Ecological Community Groups (Version 2.3), Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, 2010
  7. ^ Schafale, M. P. and A. S. Weakley. 1990. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina: third approximation. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation.
  8. ^ Bokhorst S, Bjerke JW, Davey MP, Taulavuori K, Taulavuori E, Laine K, Callaghan TV, Phoenix GK. 2010. Impacts of extreme winter warming events on plant physiology in a sub-Arctic heath community. Physiologia Plantarum. 140(2): 128–140.
  9. ^ a b c d e Kathleen A. Kron, E. Ann Powell and J. L. Luteyn (2002). "Phylogenetic relationships within the blueberry tribe (Vaccinieae, Ericaceae) based on sequence data from MATK and nuclear ribosomal ITS regions, with comments on the placement of Satyria". American Journal of Botany 89 (2): 327–336. doi:10.3732/ajb.89.2.327. PMID 21669741. 
  10. ^ "Vaccinium". Flora of China. 

External links[edit]