Vaccinium is derived from Latin for an unknown plant; corymbosum is Latin for the form of a fruit or flower cluster.
Wetland margins and low areas in the woods.
Due to their excellent fall color, red twigs in winter, long season of flower and delicious berries, highbush blueberries are a useful addition to a shrub border and should be planted with other acid loving plants. Can thrive on any moisture retentive soil in the garden. Prune out witches’ brooms (caused by a rust fungus which uses balsam fir as an alternate host) that occur in wild as well as cultivated plants and dispose of them to slow its spread.
The Highbush blueberry is a slow-growing deciduous shrub with a rounded appearance. It thrives in moist, well drained, acidic (pH 4 - 5.5) soil that is high in organic content in sun or part shade. In optimal conditions, the plant will spread by suckering.
Leaves and Stems
The leaves are reddish green in the spring, blue-green in summer, and red, yellow, orange and purple in the fall. They are arranged alternately along the stem, are simple and have an elliptical shape, and tend to be 1 - 2 ½” long. New shoots are smooth and yellow-green to reddish, whilst older stems have gray brown bark. Highbush blueberries have many upright stems and twiggy branches.
Small (¼ – 3/8”) white or pinkish flowers in bell-like drooping clusters are numerous and showy.
Edible blue fruit ripens in late summer over an extended period.
Humans as well as many species of bird, small mammals, and bear relish the fruit. The plants may be damaged by deer or crows. Blueberries require insect pollination, from bees in particular.
Small reddish-brown seeds need to be extracted from the flesh and frozen for approximately 3 months prior to sowing. Can be reproduced vegetatively via suckers.
The berries have a high iron content and can be used raw, sun-dried. smoke-dried, and baked.
Teaching Garden, North Woods (see garden map)
It takes a couple of years for a new plant to settle into a garden.
Plant Profile by Kathy Kling