Vaccinium angustifolium

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lowbush blueberry
Vaccinium angustifolium, Pancake Bay PP.jpg
Pancake Bay Provincial Park, Ontario
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Vaccinium
Species: V. angustifolium
Binomial name
Vaccinium angustifolium
Aiton 1789 not Benth. 1840[1]
Synonyms[2]
  • Cyanococcus angustifolium (Aiton) Rydb.
  • Vaccinium nigrum (Alph. Wood) Britton

Vaccinium angustifolium, commonly known as the lowbush blueberry, is a species of blueberry native to eastern and central Canada (from Manitoba to Newfoundland) and the northeastern United States, growing as far south as the Great Smoky Mountains and west to the Great Lakes region. [3][4]

Etymology[edit]

The species epithet angustifolium is a combination of the Latin words angustum meaning 'narrow', and folium meaning 'leaf'. It shares this epithet with other species of plants including Epilobium angustifolium.

Description[edit]

V. angustifolium growing in a forest of another fire-adapted species, Pinus banksiana

Vaccinium angustifolium is a low spreading deciduous shrub growing to 60 cm tall, though usually 35 cm tall or less. The leaves are glossy blue-green in summer, turning purple in the fall. The leaf shape is broad to elliptical. Buds are brownish red in stem axils. The flowers are white, bell-shaped, 5 mm long. The fruit is a small sweet dark blue to black berry. This plant grows best in wooded or open areas with well-drained acidic soils. In some areas it produces natural blueberry barrens, where it is practically the only species covering large areas.[5]

The Vaccinium angustifolium plant is fire-tolerant and its numbers often increase in an area following a forest fire. Traditionally, blueberry growers burn their fields every few years to get rid of shrubs and fertilize the soil. In Acadian French, a blueberry field is known as a "brûlis" (from brûlé, burnt) because of that technique, which is still in use.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The native plant lowbush blueberry is also grown commercially in Canada, Maine, and Massachusetts, mainly harvested from managed wild patches. It is also a favorite of recreational berry pickers, black bears, rodents and birds. The lowbush blueberry is the state fruit of Maine.

Production[edit]

Picking blueberries by a blueberry tractor at a blueberry farm in New Brunswick, Canada

In 2006, production of wild blueberries in Quebec has reached 70 million pounds (31.8 million kg). From this, 55 million pounds (2.2 million kg) were produced from the specially equipped blueberry farm (Bleuetière), and 15 million pounds (6.8 kg) were collected in the forest. The vast majority of blueberries, or 67.5 million pounds (30.7 million kg), has been marketed under various processed forms, and particularly in the form of frozen wild blueberries.

Pruning[edit]

Native Americans regularly burnt away trees and shrubs in parts of eastern Maine, in order to stimulate blueberry production. Modern farmers use various methods of burning or mowing to accomplish this. [6]

References[edit]

External links[edit]