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V. arboreum V. corymbosum
Image of V. arboreum fruit (U.G.A.) Image of V. arboruem flower (U.G.A.) Image of V. corymbosum fruit Image of V. corymbosum flower
Courtesy, University of Georgia Herbarium Courtesy, University of Georgia Herbarium

Table of Contents:

Higher Taxon:

Family: Ericaceae


According to Radford, Ahles, and Bell, Vaccinium are "trailing or erect shrubs with deciduous or evergreen leaves. Flowers in fascides, solitary or in racemes, usually from second year wood. Calyx 5-lobed very small; corolla white, pink or greenish, urceolate, campanulate or rotate, lobes the same number as the calyx lobes; stamens twice as many as the calyx lobes, anthers awned or awnless; ovary inferior, with as many locules as calyx lobes. Fruit a many-seeded, blue, black, or red berry or drupe. Corolla bell-shaped, urn-shaped, or cylindrical. Stamens 8 or 10. Berry 4-5 celled or 8-10 celled by a false partion stretching from the back of each cell to the placenta.(Radford, 1968) Leaves alternate with simple blades. (Small, 1933) Two pollen-sacs, each sac opening by a pore at the end of a terminal tubule; style slender, usually surpassing the stamens. (Cronquist, 1991)

Species List:

This Species List displays the scientific names and some known common names for Vaccinium. Varieties and hybrids are excluded from the list. You also may link directly to specific pages for the two species V. arboreum and V. corymbosum.

Identification Guide:

The following keys show defining characteristics of species within the genus Vaccinium found in the Carolinas as presented by Radford, Ahles, and Bell in the Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. The keys are fairly representative of those species found in the southeastern United States.

I. Flowering Specimens

    "I. Corolla urceolate, petals united to near apex.

      A. Leaves evergreen, margins decidedly thickened

        1. Corolla globular; plant trailing . . . V. x crassifolium
        2. Corolla elongate, longer than wide; plant erect . . . V. x myrsinites

      B. Leaves deciduous, margins not thickend.

        1. Corolla and hypanthium very pubescent. . . V. x hirsutum
        2. Corolla and hypanthium glabrous or essentially

          a.Young leaves stipitate-glandular beneath.

          • Plant 0.5m or less tall. . . V. x tenellum
          • Plant 1m or more tall. . . V. x anoenum

          b. Young leaves glabrous or at least, not stipitate glandular

          • Young leaves or twigs, or both, densely pubescent. . . V. x atrococcum
          • Young leaves and twigs glabrous or essentially so.

              Corolla more than 2x as long as broad. . . V. x elliottii
              Corolla less than 2x as long as broad

                Corolla pink, greenish or whitish, low stoloniferous shrub. Less than 6 dm tall. . . V. x vacillans
                Corolla white, nonstoloniferous shrub. More than 1m tall.

                  Corolla 5-8 mm long, leave usually serrate. . . V. x constablaei
                  Corolla 8-11 mm long; leaves entire. . . V. x corymbosum

    II. Corolla campanulate, or the lobes longer than the tube.

      A. Stamens included; corolla white. . . V. x arboreum
      B. Stamens exserted; corolla white or pink

        1. Corolla lobes 5, widely campanulate. . . V. x stamineum
        2. Corolla lobes 4, widely spreading or reflexed

          a. Leaves less than 2 cm long, evergreen, entire; trailing shrub. . . V. x macrocarpon
          b. Leaves more than 2 cm long, deciduous, finely serrate; erect shrub. . . V. x erythrocarpum

II. Fruiting Specimens

      I. Fruit pubescent

        A. Trichomes on fruit gland-tipped. . . V. x hirsutum
        B. Trichomes on fruit not gland-tipped. . . V. x stamineum

      II. Fruit glabrous

        A. Fruiting pedicels jointed near apex, with 2 bracts at joint. . . V. x macrocarpon
        B. Fruitng pedicels not joined near apex, bracts absent or minute

          1. Fruit solitary in the axils of leaves or leaf-like bracts

            a. Leaf margins serrulate; fruit red or reddish black. . . V. x erythrocarpon
            b. Leaf margins entire or remotely denticulate; fruit purplish, greenish, or black

            • Leaves coriaceous, often denticulate, margins frequently revolute, fruit black. . . V. x arboreum
            • Leaves thin, entire, margins not revolute; fruit greenish or purplish. . . V. x stamineum

          2. Fruit 1-several in short racemes, bracts absent, or minute.

            a. Leaves less than 1.5 cm long, thick, margins revolute.
            b. Leaves less than 1.5 cm long, thick, margins revolute

            • Plants trailing; fruiting pedicals shorter than fruit. . . V. x crassifolium
            • Plant erect; fruiting pedicels as long as or longer than fruit. . . V. x myrsinites

            c. Leaves more than 2 cm long, or shorter and thick and margins, not revolute

            • Leaves stipitate-glandular on lower side (seen best on 3rd-5th leaf of the season's growth). . . V. x tenellum

                Plant 0.5 m or less tall. . . V. x tenellum
                Plant 1 m or more tall. . . V. x amoenum

            • Leaves not stipitate-glandular

                Leaves less than 3 cm long and 1.5 cm wide. . . V. x elliotti
                Leaves or most of them, more than 3 cm long and 1.5 cm wide

                  Shrub less than 1m tall, stoloniferous; fruit glaucous. . . V. x vacillans
                  Shrub more than 1 m tall, not stoloniferous; fruit glaucous or not.

                    Leaves densely pubescent beneath; fruit black, not glaucous. . . V. x atrococcum
                    Leaves glabrous or essentially so beneath; fruit blue, glaucous.

                      Leaves entire. . . V. x corymbosum
                      Leaves usually serrate. . . V. x constablaei"
                      (Radford, 1968)

General Information:

There are twenty-five genera and three hundred species in the Ericaceae family.(Small, 1933) Vaccinium comes from the Latin word vaccinius which means "of cows." Honey bees are very important in the pollination process. Many birds such as thrushes and blackbirds eat upon this plant as do rabbits and deer. Small amounts of nitrogen are necessary for growth, but large concentrations of minerals stunt the growth of these plants. Mycorrhizal infection of the roots increases the yield. Blueberries under field conditions require winter chilling to satisfy the rest requirement or dormancy. (Clayton-Greene, 1993) Native Americans used dried blueberries to make a beef jerky called pemmican. In Civil War times, the soldiers resorted to drinking a beverage made with sweetened blueberries. Blueberry Pie is the most popular pie in the U.S.A., and blueberries are also an important food commodity in such things as muffins, cookies, cakes, and pies. For futher information on the history of blueberries. THoreau was so fascinated with berries that he wrote a book called Huckleberries. He wrote that plants in this family, Ericaceae, are among the earliest ones found in a fossil state. Thoureau expanded on the native bluebery being used by the Indians. Champlain in 1615, recorded a new discovery before the Pilgrims settled onto this continent.(Thoreau, 1970) Vaccinium is in the same Family as Azaleas. Some species get their scientific names from common sources such as Arkansanum which grows in Arkansas and darrow which was named after its cultivator George McMillen Darraw. (Vines, 1960)


    1. Clayton-Greene, K.A. 1993. Fifth International Symposim on Vaccinium Culture. International Society for Horticultural Science. Melbourne, Austrailia.

    2. Cronquist, A. & H. Gleason. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of the Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. 2nd Ed. New York Botanical Garden. New York.
    3. Fernald, M.L. 1950. Gray's Manual of Botany. American Book Company. New York, NY.

    4. Grimm, William Carey. 1966. Recognizing Native Shrubs. Stackpole Books. Harrisburg, PA.

    5. Halevy, Abraham H. 1985. Handbook of Flowering. CRC Press. Boca Raton, Florida.

    6. Jones, S.B. & N.C. Coile. 1988. Distribution of the Vascular Flora of Georgia. Dept. of Botany, University of Georgia. Athens, GA.

    7. Vander Kloet, S.P. 1988. The Genus Vaccinium in North America. Acadia University. Wolfville, Nova Scotia.

    8. Matthews, F. Schuyler. 1915. Field Book of American Trees and Shrubs. G.P. Putnams's Son's. New York, New York.

    9. Mellinger, Marie B. 1984. Atlas of the Vascular Flora of Georgia. Studio Designs Printing, Milledgeville, Ga.

    10. Peterson, Maude Gridley. 1908. How to Know Wild Fruits. Macmillan Company. New York, New York.

    11. Radford, A.E., H.E. Ahles & C.R. Bell. 1968. Manual of the Vascular Flora of the Carolinas. University of North Carolina Press. Chapel Hill, NC.

    12. Small, J.K. 1933. Manual of the Southeastern Flora. Published by the AUthor. New York.

    13. Stafleu, F.A. & R.S. Cowan. 1981. Taxonomic Literature. v3. International Association for Plant Taxonomy. Boston, MA.

    14. Thoreau, Henry David. 1970. Huckleberries. The Windhover Press of the University of Iowa. New York, New York.

    15. Vines, R.A. 1960. Trees and Woody Vines of the Southwest. University of Texas Press. Austin, TX.


      • Elizabeth Skillen for scanning pictures.
      • Mike Moore for assistance in the Herbabarium.
      • Jason Herring for assistance in programming.
      • Tom Jordan for assistance in programming.
      • Dr. Manhunt, Texas A&M, for permission of his images.
      • Gerard Krewer, Cooperative Extension Services, for sending information on blueberries.
      • Bryan McLucas for assistance in the BLC.
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