|Vaccinium berries, from top left clockwise:
Red huckleberries, cranberries, lingonberries and blueberries
Vaccinium // is a common and widespread genus of shrubs or dwarf shrubs in the heath family. 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.
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.
The genus was first described scientifically by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. 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. It is not the same word as vaccinum "of or pertaining to cows".
The taxonomy of the genus is complex, and still under investigation. Genetic analysis indicates that the genus Vaccinium is not monophyletic. A number of the Asian species are more closely related to Agapetes than to other Vaccinium species. 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. Other parts of Vaccinium form other groups, sometimes together with species of other genera.Vaccinium's taxonomy can either be resolved by enlarging the genus to include the entirety of the Vaccinieae tribe, or by breaking the genus up into several different genera.
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.
- Sect. Oxycoccus
- Sect. Oxycoccoides
- Vaccinium erythrocarpum – Southern Mountain Cranberry
- Subgenus Vaccinium
- All the other species, with thicker, upright woody shoots and bell-shaped flowers.
- Sect. Batodendron
- Sect. Brachyceratium
- Sect. Bracteata
- Vaccinium acrobracteatum
- Vaccinium barandanum
- Vaccinium bracteatum
- Vaccinium coriaceum
- Vaccinium cornigerum
- Vaccinium cruentum
- Vaccinium hooglandii
- Vaccinium horizontale
- Vaccinium laurifolium
- Vaccinium lucidum
- Vaccinium myrtoides
- Vaccinium phillyreoides
- Vaccinium reticulatovenosum
- Vaccinium sparsum
- Vaccinium varingifolium
- Sect. Ciliata
- Sect. Cinctosandra
- Sect. Conchophyllum
- Sect. Cyanococcus – typical blueberries
- Vaccinium angustifolium – Lowbush Blueberry
- Vaccinium boreale – Northern Blueberry
- Vaccinium caesariense – New Jersey Blueberry
- Vaccinium caespitosum – Dwarf Blueberry (Dwarf Bilberry)
- Vaccinium corymbosum – Highbush Blueberry
- Vaccinium darrowii – Evergreen Blueberry
- Vaccinium elliottii – Elliott's Blueberry
- Vaccinium formosum
- Vaccinium fuscatum – Black Highbush Blueberry; syn. V. atrococcum
- Vaccinium hirsutum
- Vaccinium koreanum – Korean Blueberry
- Vaccinium myrsinites – Evergreen Blueberry
- Vaccinium myrtilloides – Canadian Blueberry
- Vaccinium pallidum Ait. – Dryland Blueberry (images); syn. V. vacillans Torr.
- Vaccinium simulatum
- Vaccinium tenellum
- Vaccinium virgatum – Rabbiteye Blueberry; syn. V. ashei
- Sect. Eococcus
- Sect. Epigynium
- Sect. Galeopetalum
- Sect. Hemimyrtillus
- Sect. Myrtillus (including sect. Macropelma) – bilberries and relatives
- Vaccinium calycinum Sm. – Ōhelo kau laʻau (Hawaiʻi)
- Vaccinium cereum (L.f.) Forst.f. – East Polynesian Blueberry, Pacific Blueberry
- Vaccinium cespitosum – Dwarf Bilberry
- Vaccinium deliciosum – Cascade Bilberry, Cascade Blueberry, Blueleaf Huckleberry
- Vaccinium dentatum Sm. – Ōhelo (Hawaiʻi)
- Vaccinium membranaceum – Square-twig Blueberry, Thinleaf Huckleberry, Tall Huckleberry, Big Huckleberry, Mountain Huckleberry, "black huckleberry"
- Vaccinium myrtillus – Common Bilberry, Blue Whortleberry, Blaeberry, Fraughan, Hurtleberry
- Vaccinium ovalifolium – Alaska Blueberry, Early Blueberry, Oval-leaf Blueberry
- Vaccinium parvifolium – Red Huckleberry
- Vaccinium praestans – Krasnika (Russian: Красника)
- Vaccinium reticulatum – Ōhelo ʻai (Hawaiʻi)
- Vaccinium scoparium – Grouse Whortleberry, Grouseberry, Littleleaf Huckleberry
- Sect. Neurodesia
- Sect. Oarianthe
- Sect. Oreades
- Sect. Pachyanthum
- Sect. Polycodium
- Sect. Pyxothamnus
- Sect. Vaccinium
- Sect. Vitis-idaea
Distribution and habitat
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.
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). Blueberry plants are commonly found in oak-heath forests in eastern North America.
Production tonnes. Figures 2003–2004
|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 %|
- "Vaccinium Linnaeus". Index Nominum Genericorum. International Association for Plant Taxonomy. 2003-02-05. Retrieved 2008-05-09.
- Flora of North America, Vaccinium Linnaeus, 1753
- Sunset Western Garden Book, 1995:606–607
- 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.
- Coombes, Allen J. (1994). Dictionary of Plant Names. London: Hamlyn Books. ISBN 978-0-600-58187-1. p. 187.
- P.G.W. Glare, ed. (1996). Oxford Latin Dictionary. p. 2000. ISBN 0-19-864224-5.
- 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.
- "Vaccinium". Flora of China.
- The Natural Communities of Virginia Classification of Ecological Community Groups (Version 2.3), Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, 2010
- 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.
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