Vaccinium ovatum

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Vaccinium ovatum
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Vaccinium
V. ovatum
Binomial name
Vaccinium ovatum
Pursh 1813

Vaccinium ovatum is a North American species of flowering shrub known by the common names evergreen huckleberry, winter huckleberry, cynamoka berry and California huckleberry.

Distribution and ecology[edit]

Vaccinium ovatum is a small to medium-sized evergreen shrub native to the Western Pacific Coast of the United States and coastal British Columbia.[1][2][3] Typical flora associates are such plants as the western sword fern (Polystichum munitum), coastal woodfern (Dryopteris arguta), California snowberry (Symphoricarpos mollis), common snowberry (Symphoricarpos albus), and thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus).[4] It is often found sprouting from nurse logs and growing in conjunction with red huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium).


Vaccinium ovatum is a true huckleberry plant, growing well in shade or sun and thriving in acidic soils. Not needing much sun, the plant has a wide variety of forest homes; it is often seen sprouting out of old coast redwood stumps or dense brambles of other forest growths. The shiny, alternately arranged, egg-shaped leaves are 2 to 3 centimeters (0.8–1.2 inches) long and about a centimeter wide (0.4 inches) with finely serrated edges.[5] During the summer the plant produces round, edible black berries up to a centimeter (0.4 inches) in diameter,[6] which can remain on the branches until mid-winter.[7] The berries are eaten by birds and mammals throughout autumn.[8]



Traditionally, huckleberries were sought after and collected by many Native American tribes along the Pacific coast in the region,[9] including the Karok.[10] The berries can be eaten raw and are said to taste similar to but sweeter and more intense than blueberries, and are a favorite ingredient in jams and jellies.[8] Meriwether Lewis recorded that he observed indigenous people eating the berries raw, dried, and in bread, which preserved the fruit for a season.[10]


Vaccinium ovatum is grown as an ornamental plant for horticultural use by specialty wholesale, retail, and botanic garden native plant nurseries. The plant is successful in natural landscape and native plant palette style, and habitat gardens and public sustainable landscape and restoration projects that are similar to its habitat conditions.[11][12]

See also[edit]



  1. ^ Biota of North America Program 2014 county distribution map
  2. ^ Calflora taxon report, University of California, Vaccinium ovatum Pursh, California huckleberry, Huckleberry, evergreen huckleberry
  3. ^ Turner Photographics, Vaccinium ovatum - Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest photo, description, partial distribution map
  4. ^ C. Michael Hogan. 2008. Coastal Woodfern (Dryopteris arguta), GlobalTwitcher, ed. N. Stromberg Archived 2011-07-11 at the Wayback Machine
  5. ^ Jepson Manual treatment, University of California — Vaccinium ovatum
  6. ^ Flora of North America, Vaccinium ovatum Pursh, 1813. California huckleberry
  7. ^ Benoliel, Doug (2011). Northwest Foraging: The Classic Guide to Edible Plants of the Pacific Northwest (Rev. and updated ed.). Seattle, WA: Skipstone. p. 47. ISBN 978-1-59485-366-1. OCLC 668195076.
  8. ^ a b Whitney, Stephen (1985). Western Forests (The Audubon Society Nature Guides). New York: Knopf. p. 449. ISBN 0-394-73127-1.
  9. ^ Foster, Steven; Hobbs, Christopher (April 2002). A Field Guide to Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 039583807X.
  10. ^ a b Nyerges, Christopher (2017). Foraging Washington: Finding, Identifying, and Preparing Edible Wild Foods. Guilford, CT: Falcon Guides. ISBN 978-1-4930-2534-3. OCLC 965922681.
  11. ^ Jepson Horticultural Database for Vaccinium ovatum . 11.10.2010
  12. ^ CNPLX: Vaccinium ovatum . accessed 11.10.2010


  • Stephen Foster and Christopher Hobbs. 2002. Western Medicinal Plants and Herbs (pg. 287). Houghton Miller Company, New York, NY.

External links[edit]