Overview

Brief Summary

Associations in Sarmatic mixed forests

The Sarmatic mixed forests ecoregion stretches from northwestern Europe to the Ural Mountains in Russia and represents one of the broadest longitudinal expanse of any ecoregion of the Earth. Dominant canopy species include Scots pine and Norway spruce (Picea abies) intermixed with some broadleaf species such as (Quercus robur). There are a number of shrubs, wildflowers, grasses and mosses that inhabit the mid-tier and forest floor. Common low-growing shrubs include Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) and Heather (Calluna vulgaris).

Example wildflowers or forbs seen in the forest understory in Sarmatic mixed forests are the Common Spotted Orchid (Dactylorhiza fuchsii) are: Red Silene dioica), White Silene latifolia ssp. alba), Sand Catchfly (Silene conica), Field Scabious (Knautia arvensis) and Marsh Helleborine (Epipactis palustris). In some fens within forest clearings the Marsh thistle (Cirsium palustre) is found.

Other associates in the Sarmatic forests include some widespread ferns seen on forest floors such as Western Brackenfern (Pteridium aquilinum) and Mountain Bladderfern (Cystopteris montana). Common mosses found in the more mesic soils are Broom Forkmoss (Dicranum scoparium), Stairstep Moss (Hylocomium splendens), Red-stemmed Feathermoss (Pleurozium schreberi), Ostrich Plume (Ptilium crista-castrensis) and Common Hair Moss (Polytrichum commune).



  • C.Michael Hogan. 2011. "Sarmatic mixed forests". Topic ed. Sidney Draggan. Ed.-in-chief Cutler J.Cleveland. Encyclopedia of Earth. Environmental Information Coalition, National Council for Science and the Environment http://www.eoearth.org/article/Sarmatic_mixed_forests
  • U.G.Bolub Bohn and C. Hettwer. 2000. Reduced general map of the natural vegetation of Europe. 1:10,000,000. Bonn-Bad Godesberg, Bonn.
  • World Wildlife Fund. 2001. Sarmatic mixed forests. (PA0436).
  • C.Michael Hogan. 2009. Marsh Thistle: Cirsium palustre. GlobalTwitcher.com, ed. N.Strömberg.
  • H.Sjors. 1999. Swedish plant geography: The background: Geology, climate and zonation. Acta Phytogeogr. Suec. Uppsala: Opulus press, 84:5-14.
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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Global Range: Occurs from southeastern British Columbia to central Oregon, Wyoming New Mexico and Arizona.

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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Occurrence in North America

     AZ  CA  CO  ID  MT  NM  OR  UT  WA  WY
     AB  BC

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Dwarf bilberry grows from British Columbia southward east of the
Cascades to central Oregon [42,92].  It occurs throughout the Rocky
Mountains from British Columbia and Alberta to northern New Mexico and
southern Arizona [92,98].  Dwarf bilberry reaches greatest abundance in
the southern Rockies, whereas the closely related and morphologically
similar grouse whortleberry is most abundant in the Northwest [13,20]
Disjunct populations of dwarf bilberry have been reported in the
interior Rocky Mountains [92].  This circumboreal species extends across
Europe and Asia [42,92].  Populations in southwestern Greenland are
believed to have originated from European plants [92].
  • 42.  Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1973. Flora of the Pacific        Northwest. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 730 p.  [1168]
  • 98.  Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry        C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo,        UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p.  [2944]
  • 13.  Camp, W. H. 1942. A survey of the American species of Vaccinium,        subgenus Euvaccinium. Brittonia. 4: 205-247.  [6950]
  • 20.  Dahlgreen, Matthew Craig. 1984. Observations on the ecology of Vaccinium        membranaceum Dougl. on the southeast slope of the Washington Cascades.        Seattle, WA: University of Washington. 120 p. Thesis.  [2131]
  • 92.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1988. The genus Vaccinium in North America.        Publication 1828. Ottawa: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 201 p.        [11436]

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Regional Distribution in the Western United States

More info on this topic.

This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):

    5  Columbia Plateau
    6  Upper Basin and Range
    8  Northern Rocky Mountains
    9  Middle Rocky Mountains
   10  Wyoming Basin
   11  Southern Rocky Mountains
   12  Colorado Plateau

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Xinjiang [Mongolia, Russia; Europe].
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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the terms: adventitious, peat, shrub

Dwarf bilberry is a slender-branched, somewhat spreading, dwarf
deciduous shrub which reaches 4 to 18 inches (10-18 cm) in height
[57,87,92,97,105].  Plants are typically shorter at higher elevations
[100].  This rhizomatous shrub generally forms open colonies [92].
Roots are fibrous and much branched, with maximum diameters of 0.06 to
0.08 inch (1.5-2.0 mm) [41].  Numerous fine adventitious roots form an
interconnected mat in the top 2 inches (5 cm) of peat [41].

Twigs are green or less commonly yellowish, glabrous or puberulent, and
sharply angled [43,50,92,97].  Stems often become reddish or
orange-tinged when exposed to full sunlight [87].  Branches tend to be
thicker and less numerous than the morphologically similar grouse
whortleberry [43], and dwarf bilberry lacks the unique broomlike
branching typical of grouse whortleberry [87].  Dwarf bilberry also has
larger leaves and flowers and often puberulent stems [98].  Stem
morphology has been examined in detail [69].  The maximum age of aerial
shoots is generally estimated at 15 years [92].  However, in parts of
Sweden, stem ages average 18 years [20].

Small, simple, alternate leaves are ovate to lanceolate or broadly
elliptic with serrate margins [50,92,98].  Leaves are acute to obtuse at
the apex and rounded to broadly cuneate at the base [97,98].  Leaves are
light green and 0.4 to 1.2 inches (1-3 cm) in length [43].  Dwarf
bilberry leaves turn red, yellow, or brown in autumn [95].

The pink, cream, or greenish-white flowers are borne singly in the axils
of new stems [73,92,98].  Flowers are small, waxy, and urceolate to
campanulate [43,50].  Fruit of dwarf bilberry is a spherical berry 0.2
to 0.3 inch (5-8 mm) in diameter [43,65].  Fruit color ranges from dark
red to bluish or purplish black [43].  Dwarf bilberry is single-fruited
[65].  Berries are generally not glaucous, although a glaucous bloom is
occasionally observed [73,92].  Berries contain many nutlets which
average approximately 0.04 inch (1 mm) in length [92,97].
  • 98.  Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry        C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo,        UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p.  [2944]
  • 20.  Dahlgreen, Matthew Craig. 1984. Observations on the ecology of Vaccinium        membranaceum Dougl. on the southeast slope of the Washington Cascades.        Seattle, WA: University of Washington. 120 p. Thesis.  [2131]
  • 41.  Heath, G. H.; Luckwell, L. C.; Pullen, O. J. 1938. The rooting systems        of heath plants. Journal of Ecology. 26: 331-352.  [9016]
  • 43.  Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur; Ownbey, Marion. 1959. Vascular        plants of the Pacific Northwest. Part 4: Ericaceae through        Campanulaceae. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 510 p.        [1170]
  • 50.  Kelly, George W. 1970. A guide to the woody plants of Colorado. Boulder,        CO: Pruett Publishing Co. 180 p.  [6379]
  • 57.  Laine, Kari M.; Henttonen, Heikki. 1987. Phenolics/nitrogen ratios in        the blueberry Vaccinium myrtillus in relation to temperature and        microtine density in Finnish Lapland. Oikos. 50: 389-395.  [3960]
  • 65.  Minore, Don. 1972. The wild huckleberries of Oregon and Washington -- a        dwindling resource. PNW-143. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range        Experiment Station. 20 p.  [8952]
  • 69.  Odell, A. E.; Vander Kloet, S. P.; Newell, R. E. 1989. Stem anatomy of        Vaccinium section Cyanococcus and related taxa. Canadian Journal of        Botany. 67(8): 2328-2334.  [8944]
  • 73.  Patterson, Patricia A.; Neiman, Kenneth E.; Tonn, Jonalea. 1985. Field        guide to forest plants of northern Idaho. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-180.        Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain        Research Station. 246 p.  [1839]
  • 87.  Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Abbreviated key to western Montana Vacciniums.        Unpublished paper on file at:  U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service,Intermountain Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT.  [10487]
  • 92.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1988. The genus Vaccinium in North America.        Publication 1828. Ottawa: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 201 p.        [11436]
  • 95.  Vanninen, Irene; Laakso, Seppo; Raatikainen, Mikko. 1988. Geographical        variation in the phenology and morphology of bilberry in Finland.        ActaBot. Fennica. 136: 49-59.  [6411]
  • 97.  Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest.        Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p.  [7707]
  • 100.  Woodward, F. I. 1986. Ecophysiological studies on the shrub Vaccinium        myrtillus L. taken from a wide altitudinal range. Oecologia. 70:        580-586.  [6278]
  • 105.  Harrington, H. D. 1964. Manual of the plants of Colorado. 2d ed.        Chicago: The Swallow Press Inc. 666 p.  [6851]

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Description

Shrubs deciduous, dwarf, 15–30(–60) cm tall, much branched, rhizomatous. Twigs acutely angled; bud scales inconspicuous. Leaves scattered; petiole ca. 1 mm; leaf blade ovate or elliptic, 1–3 × 0.6–1.6 cm, papery, secondary veins 6 or 7 pairs, fine veins raised abaxially, inconspicuous adaxially, base broadly cuneate to rounded, margin plane, serrulate, apex acute to obtuse. Flowers solitary, axillary, pendulous, 1–3 at base of shoot. Pedicel 2.5–3.5 mm; bracteoles absent. Flowers 4- or 5-merous. Hypanthium ca. 4 mm, scarcely lobed. Corolla pale green, tinged with pink, globose-urceolate, 4–6 mm; lobes reflexed. Filaments ca. 1.5 mm, glabrous; anthers 2.2–2.5 mm, thecae with 2 subulate spurs, tubules shorter than thecae. Berry 4- or 5-loculed, bluish black, with a bloom, 6–10 mm in diam. Fl. Jun, fr. Sep. 2n = 24.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat characteristics

Dwarf bilberry grows in open woods, on hillsides, high ridges, hummocky
seepage slopes, and moraines [4,49,92].  In mountains of the Southwest,
it occurs on all slopes and aspects at higher elevations [32]. 

Climate:  Upland spruce-fir sites occupied by dwarf bilberry are often
cold and steep [47].  On many sites, snow commonly persists until late
spring [32].

Soils:  Most Vacciniums require acidic soils and can grow on infertile
sites which have relatively small amounts of many essential elements
[53].  Dwarf bilberry requires little potassium and can grow well where
ammonium is the only source of nitrogen [46].  In Scandinavia, dwarf
bilberry appears to be most abundant on sites of intermediate fertility
[20].  It is commonly associated with raw humus in parts of northeastern
Scotland and Scandinavia [107,108].  It commonly grows on shallow, rocky
soils in the southwestern United States [101].  Growth is generally
marginal on poorly aerated soil [53].

Elevation:  Dwarf bilberry typically grows at middle to high elevations.
Elevational range by geographic location is as follows
[26,49,100,85,92,98]:

      from 7,000 to 12,000 feet (2,134-3,660 m ) in the Southwest
           8,000 to 11,000 feet (2,438-3,355 m) in AZ
           7,500 to 13,000 feet (2,286-3,965 m) in CO
           4,300 to 8,000 feet (1,311-2,438 m) in MT
           9,500 to 11,000 feet (2,896-3,965 m) in UT
           8,500 to 8,500 feet (2,591-2,591 m) in WY
           656 to 3,800 feet (200-1,150 m) in Britain
           > 5,250 feet (1,600 m) in the Cascades and Rocky Mtns.       
           3,000 to 5,000 feet (914-1,524 m) east of the Cascades
  • 26.  Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information        network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and        Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior,        Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p.  [806]
  • 98.  Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry        C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo,        UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p.  [2944]
  • 4.  Alexander, Robert R. 1987. Classification of the forest vegetation of        Colorado by habitat type and community type. Res. Note RM-478. Fort        Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky        Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 14 p.  [9092]
  • 20.  Dahlgreen, Matthew Craig. 1984. Observations on the ecology of Vaccinium        membranaceum Dougl. on the southeast slope of the Washington Cascades.        Seattle, WA: University of Washington. 120 p. Thesis.  [2131]
  • 32.  Fitzhugh, E. Lee; Moir, William H.; Ludwig, John A.; Ronco, Frank, Jr.        1987. Forest habitat types in the Apache, Gila, and part of the Cibola        National Forests, Arizona and New Mexico. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-145. Fort        Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky        Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 116 p.  [4206]
  • 46.  Ingestad, Torsten. 1973. Mineral nutrient requirements of Vaccinium        vitis idaea and V. myrtillus. Physiological Plant. 29(2): 239-246.        [9116]
  • 47.  Johnston, Barry C. 1987. Plant associations of Region Two: Potential        plant communities of Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, and        Kansas. 4th ed. R2-ECOL-87-2. Lakewood, CO: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region. 429 p.  [3519]
  • 49.  Kearney, Thomas H.; Peebles, Robert H.; Howell, John Thomas; McClintock,        Elizabeth. 1960. Arizona flora. 2d ed. Berkeley, CA: University of        California Press. 1085 p.  [6563]
  • 53.  Korcak, Ronald F. 1988. Nutrition of blueberry and other calcifuges.        Horticultural Reviews. 10: 183-227.  [9612]
  • 85.  Schultz, Joseph Herbert. 1944. Some cytotaxonomic and germination        studies in the genus Vaccinium. Pullman, WA: Washington State        University. 115 p. Thesis.  [10285]
  • 92.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1988. The genus Vaccinium in North America.        Publication 1828. Ottawa: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 201 p.        [11436]
  • 100.  Woodward, F. I. 1986. Ecophysiological studies on the shrub Vaccinium        myrtillus L. taken from a wide altitudinal range. Oecologia. 70:        580-586.  [6278]
  • 101.  Youngblood, Andrew P.; Mauk, Ronald L. 1985. Coniferous forest habitat        types of central and southern Utah. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-187. Ogden, UT:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research        Station. 89 p.  [2684]
  • 107.  Cain, Stanley A. 1931. Ecological studies of the vegetation of the Great        Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. Botanical Gazette. 91:        22-41.  [10340]
  • 108.  Kittredge, Joseph, Jr. 1938. The interrelations of habitat, growth rate,        and associated vegetation in the aspen community of Minnesota and        Wisconsin. Ecological Monographs. 8(2): 152-246.  [10356]

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Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the terms: association, codominant, natural, series

Dwarf bilberry is a common understory dominant or codominant in a
variety of coniferous forests of the Rocky Mountains.  It occurs in
abundance in stands made up of subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa),
Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), Engelmann spruce (Picea
engelmannii), and white fir (Abies concolor).  Dwarf bilberry is also an
understory dominant in lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta), ponderosa pine
(P> ponderosa), western hemlock-western redcedar (Tsuga
heterophylla-Thuja plicata, and quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)
communities.  Common understory codominants include grouse whortleberry,
skunkleaf polemonium (Polemonium pulcherrimum), northern twinflower
(Linnaea borealis), and thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) [6,4,78,98].

Published classifications listing dwarf bilberry as an indicator or
dominant in habitat types, community types, or plant associations are
presented below.

Classification of the forest vegetation of Wyoming [3]
Classification of the forest vegetation of Colorado by habitat type and
  community type [4]
Classification of the forest vegetation on the National Forests of
  Arizona and New Mexico [5]
A preliminary classification of the natural vegetation of Colorado [8]
Climax forest series of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado [23]
Forest habitat types south of the Mongolian Rim, Arizona and New Mexico [24]
Forest habitat types in the Apache, Gila, and part of the Cibola
  National Forests, Arizona and New Mexico [32]
Plant association of Region Two: Potential plant communities of
  Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, and Kansas [47]
Forest vegetation of the Gunnison and parts of the Uncompahgre National
  Forests: a preliminary habitat type classification [52]
Forest and woodland habitat types (plant associations) of northern New
  Mexico and northern Arizona [59]
The lodgepole pine zone in Colorado [66]
A forest habitat type classification of southern Arizona and its
  relationship to forests of the Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico [68]
Forested plant associations of the Okanogan National Forest [99]

Plant associates:  Common associates of dwarf bilberry include
thimbleberry, northern twinflower, kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos
uva-ursi), mountain snowberry (Symphoricarpos oreophilus), heartleaf
arnica (Arnica cordifolia), common juniper (Juniperus communis), black
twinberry (Lonicera involucrata), Rocky mountain maple (Acer glabrum),
serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia), and grouse whortleberry
[8,25,47,52,68].  Where dwarf bilberry and grouse whortleberry occur
together, dwarf bilberry typically occupies somewhat lower, more mesic
sites [106].
  • 98.  Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry        C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo,        UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p.  [2944]
  • 3.  Alexander, Robert R. 1986. Classification of the forest vegetation of        Wyoming. Res. Note RM-466. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment        Station. 10 p.  [304]
  • 4.  Alexander, Robert R. 1987. Classification of the forest vegetation of        Colorado by habitat type and community type. Res. Note RM-478. Fort        Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky        Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 14 p.  [9092]
  • 5.  Alexander, Robert R.; Ronco, Frank, Jr. 1987. Classification of the        forest vegetation on the National Forests of Arizona and New Mexico.        Res. Note RM-469. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture,        Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 10        p.  [3515]
  • 6.  Aller, Alvin R. 1960. The composition of the Lake McDonald forest,        Glacier National Park. Ecology. 41(1): 29-33.  [6329]
  • 8.  Baker, William L. 1984. A preliminary classification of the natural        vegetation of Colorado. Great Basin Naturalist. 44(4): 647-676.  [380]
  • 23.  DeVelice, Robert L.; Ludwig, John A. 1983. Climax forest series of        northern New Mexico and southern Colorado. In: Moir, W. H.; Hendzel,        Leonard, tech. coords. Proceedings of the workshop on Southwestern        habitat types; 1983 April 6-8; Albuquerque, NM. Albuquerque, NM: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southwestern Region: 45-53.        [779]
  • 24.  DeVelice, Robert L.; Ludwig, John A. 1983. Forest habitat types south of        the Mogollon Rim, Arizona and New Mexico. Final Report. Cooperative        Agreement No. 28-K2-240 between U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station and New        Mexico State University. Las Cruces, NM: New Mexico State University. 47        p.  [780]
  • 25.  DeVelice, Robert L.; Ludwig, John A.; Moir, William H.; Ronco, Frank,        Jr. 1986. A classification of forest habitat types of northern New        Mexico and southern Colorado. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-131. Fort Collins, CO:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest        and Range Experiment Station. 59 p.  [781]
  • 32.  Fitzhugh, E. Lee; Moir, William H.; Ludwig, John A.; Ronco, Frank, Jr.        1987. Forest habitat types in the Apache, Gila, and part of the Cibola        National Forests, Arizona and New Mexico. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-145. Fort        Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky        Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 116 p.  [4206]
  • 47.  Johnston, Barry C. 1987. Plant associations of Region Two: Potential        plant communities of Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Colorado, and        Kansas. 4th ed. R2-ECOL-87-2. Lakewood, CO: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region. 429 p.  [3519]
  • 52.  Komarkova, Vera; Alexander, Robert R.; Johnston, Barry C. 1988. Forest        vegetation of the Gunnison and parts of the Uncompahgre National        Forests: a preliminary habitat type classification. Gen. Tech. Rep.        RM-163. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 65 p.        [5798]
  • 59.  Larson, Milo; Moir, W. H. 1987. Forest and woodland habitat types (plant        associations) of northern New Mexico and northern Arizona. 2d ed.        Albuquerque, NM: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,        Southwestern Region. 90 p.  [8947]
  • 66.  Moir, William H. 1969. The lodgepole pine zone in Colorado. American        Midland Naturalist. 81: 87-98.  [10798]
  • 68.  Muldavin, Esteban H.; DeVelice, Robert L. 1987. A forest habitat type        classification of southern Arizona and its relationship to forests of        the Sierra Madre Occidental of Mexico. In: Aldon, Earl F.; Gonzales        Vicente, Carlos E.; Moir, William H., technical coordinators. Strategies        for classification and management of native vegetation for food        production in arid zones: Proceedings; 1987 October 12-16; Tucson, AZ.        Gen, Tech. Rep. RM-150. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment        Station: 24-31.  [2728]
  • 78.  Richardson, Nancy. 1980. Species-specific aboveground shrub biomass in        seral communities in three habitat types in west central Montana. Final        Report. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment        Station, Forestry Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. 57 p.  [7309]
  • 99.  Williams, Clinton K.; Lillybridge, Terry R. 1983. Forested plant        associations of the Okanogan National Forest. R6-Ecol-132b. Portland,        OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest        Region. 116 p.  [2566]
  • 106.  Veblen, Thomas T. 1986. Age and size structure of subalpine forests in        the Colorado Front Range. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 113(3):        225-240.  [8271]

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Habitat: Ecosystem

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

   FRES20  Douglas-fir
   FRES21  Ponderosa pine
   FRES23  Fir - spruce
   FRES24  Hemlock - Sitka spruce
   FRES26  Lodgepole pine
   FRES28  Western hardwoods

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Habitat: Cover Types

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This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

   205  Mountain hemlock
   206  Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir
   210  Interior Douglas-fir
   211  White fir
   217  Aspen
   218  Lodgepole pine
   219  Limber pine
   227  Western redcedar - western hemlock
   237  Interior ponderosa pine

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Habitat: Plant Associations

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

   K002  Cedar - hemlock - Douglas-fir forest
   K004  Fir - hemlock
   K011  Western ponderosa pine
   K012  Douglas-fir forest
   K013  Cedar - hemlock - pine forest
   K015  Western spruce - fir forest
   K018  Pine - Douglas-fir forest
   K019  Arizona pine forest
   K020  Spruce - fir - Douglas-fir forest
   K021  Southwestern spruce - fir forest

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Larix, Picea, Pinus, or mixed forests, on acidic and wet soils; 2200–2500 m.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Associations

Foodplant / parasite
telium of Naohidemyces vacciniorum parasitises leaf of Vaccinium myrtillus x vitis-idaea (V. x intermedium)
Other: unusual host/prey

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In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / nest
female of Andrena lapponica provisions nest with pollen of Vaccinium myrtillus

Foodplant / saprobe
embedded, then erumpent apothecium of Coccomyces leptideus is saprobic on live twig of Vaccinium myrtillus
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / mycorrhiza / ectomycorrhiza
fruitbody of Cortinarius bolaris is ectomycorrhizal with live root of Vaccinium myrtillus
Remarks: Other: uncertain

Plant / resting place / on
adult of Cryptocephalus labiatus may be found on Vaccinium myrtillus
Remarks: season: 3-11

Foodplant / saprobe
scattered, pseudoplurilocular stroma of Cytospora coelomycetous anamorph of Cytospora vaccinii is saprobic on dead, locally blackened stem of Vaccinium myrtillus
Remarks: season: 5

Foodplant / sap sucker
adult of Elasmucha ferrugata sucks sap of Vaccinium myrtillus
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / gall
fruitbody of Exobasidium arescens causes gall of live leaf of Vaccinium myrtillus
Other: sole host/prey

Foodplant / gall
fruitbody of Exobasidium myrtilli causes gall of shoot of Vaccinium myrtillus

Foodplant / feeds on
Globiceps fulvicollis cruciatus feeds on Vaccinium myrtillus
Other: minor host/prey

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Leccinum vulpinum is associated with Vaccinium myrtillus

Foodplant / spot causer
erumpent pseudothecium of Leptosphaerulina myrtillina causes spots on live leaf of Vaccinium myrtillus
Remarks: season: 9-10

Foodplant / hemiparasite
Melampyrum sylvaticum is hemiparasitic on root of Vaccinium myrtillus

Foodplant / saprobe
in groups of 2 or 3, long-stalked apothecium of Monilinia baccarum is saprobic on dead, fallen, mummified fruits of Vaccinium myrtillus
Remarks: season: 5

Foodplant / parasite
telium of Naohidemyces vacciniorum parasitises leaf of Vaccinium myrtillus
Other: major host/prey

Foodplant / mycorrhiza / endomycorrhiza
mycelium of Oidiodendron maius is endomycorrhizal with live root of Vaccinium myrtillus

Foodplant / saprobe
deep-seated stroma of Pezicula myrtillina is saprobic on dead, dry branch of Vaccinium myrtillus
Remarks: season: 7-12

Foodplant / pathogen
Phytophthora kernoviae infects and damages lesioned stem of Vaccinium myrtillus

Foodplant / pathogen
Phytophthora ramorum infects and damages Vaccinium myrtillus

Foodplant / pathogen
Phytophthora sp. nov. infects and damages lesioned stem of Vaccinium myrtillus

Foodplant / gall
Phytoplasma (ined) causes gall of proliferating stem of Vaccinium myrtillus

Foodplant / parasite
cleistothecium of Podosphaera myrtillina parasitises live leaf of Vaccinium myrtillus

Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Pristiphora mollis grazes on leaf of Vaccinium myrtillus
Other: sole host/prey

Foodplant / open feeder
larva of Pristiphora quercus grazes on leaf of Vaccinium myrtillus

Foodplant / saprobe
erumpent stroma of Protoventuria elegantula is saprobic on dead, fallen leaf of Vaccinium myrtillus
Remarks: season: 5

Foodplant / saprobe
erumpent stroma of Protoventuria myrtilli is saprobic on dead leaf of Vaccinium myrtillus

Foodplant / saprobe
immersed just beneath epidermis perithecium of Pseudomassaria vaccinii is saprobic on dead twig of Vaccinium myrtillus
Remarks: season: 1

Foodplant / saprobe
acervulus of Seimatosporium coelomycetous anamorph of Seimatosporium vaccinii is saprobic on dead twig of Vaccinium myrtillus

Foodplant / spot causer
epiphyllous, gregarious, minute pycnidium of Septoria coelomycetous anamorph of Septoria stemmatea sensu Sacc. causes spots on stem of Vaccinium myrtillus
Remarks: season: 9

Foodplant / saprobe
opening by slit apothecium of Terriera cladophila is saprobic on dead, attached bark (subapical) of Vaccinium myrtillus
Remarks: season: 4-6

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General Ecology

Site Description

More info for the term: snag

        elevation - 5,600 to 5,800 feet (1,706-1,761 m)
        slope - 0 to 20 percent
        aspect - south to west, primarily southwest
        topography - much relief
        soils -
                parent material - basalt residuum
                bedrock composition - basalt, andesite, rhyolite
                soil fertility -
                        lodgepole pine thicket - low
                snag - moderate
        climate -
                winters - cold and wet
                summers - cool and dry
                annual precipitation - 31.5 to 63 inches (80-160 cm)
                70 percent of annual precipitation occurs as snow
                between October and March

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Season/Severity Classification

More info for the term: severity

September 30, 1975  - severity not reported.

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Fire Management Considerations

More info for the terms: cover, fire suppression, fuel, fuel loading, litter, prescribed fire

Wildlife:  Evidence suggests that fire suppression may be having an
adverse impact on bear habitat in some areas [102,110].  Once-productive
berry fields are being invaded by conifers.  Since plants beneath a
forest canopy generally produce few berries, fruit production has been
steadily declining in many areas [65].  Berry fields can be treated with
fire if maintenance or enhancement of berry crops is a prime management
objective.  Logging treatments which include severe soil scarification
or slash burns may also reduce berry production.  Even where timber
harvest favors berry production, lack of cover in early years can limit
bear use.  Wildfires often create diverse habitat mosaics which
incorporate elements of hiding cover and favor bear use [102].

Prescribed fire:  Flower buds tend to be more numerous on new shoots,
and periodic removal of old shoots can increase flower production in
Vacciniums.  Prescribed fire has long been used to rejuvenate commercial
low sweet blueberry (V. angustifolium) fields and to increase overall
fruit production [64].  Prescribed fires, particularly those conducted
during the spring when soil moisture is high, may increase berry
production for wildlife species.  Little research has been conducted on
dwarf bilberry, although the use of prescribed fire has been evaluated
with respect to blue and globe huckleberries [64,65].
 
Fuels:  A dwarf bilberry understory partially supports fine fuels such
as needle litter and small twigs and produces a more optimally aerated
fuel bed.  Estimated fuel loading of dwarf bilberry has been established
for lodgepole pine forests of the southern Rocky Mountains [2].

Timber harvest:  In spruce-fir forests of the southern Rocky Mountains
of New Mexico, forest regeneration after fire may be most rapid in cover
types dominated by Vacciniums such as dwarf bilberry [27].
  • 2.  Alexander, Martin E. 1978. Estimating fuel weights of two common shrubs        in Colorado lodgepole pine stands. Res. Note RM-354. Fort Collins, CO:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest        and Range Experiment Station. 4 p.  [302]
  • 27.  Dye, A. J.; Moir, W. H. 1977. Spruce-fir forest at its southern        distribution in the Rocky Mountains, New Mexico. American Midland        Naturalist. 97(1): 133-146.  [7476]
  • 64.  Martin, Patricia A. E. 1979. Productivity and taxonomy of the Vaccinium        globulare, V. membranaceum complex in western Montana. Missoula, MT:        University of Montana. 136 p. Thesis.  [9130]
  • 65.  Minore, Don. 1972. The wild huckleberries of Oregon and Washington -- a        dwindling resource. PNW-143. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range        Experiment Station. 20 p.  [8952]
  • 102.  Zager, Peter Edward. 1980. The influence of logging and wildfire on        grizzly bear habitat in northwestern Montana. Missoula, MT: University        of Montana. 131 p. Dissertation.  [5032]
  • 110.  Unsworth, James W.; Beecham, John J.; Irby, Lynn R. 1989. Female black        bear habitat use in west-central Idaho. Journal of Wildlife Management.        53(3): 668-673.  [8407]

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Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire

Fire temperature:  The effect of temperature on the sprouting ability of
dwarf bilberry in Scotland was documented as follows after 17 months of
regrowth [62]:

                        aboveground temperatures
                        (degrees C for 2 minutes)
                      
                        400          600           800

mean # sprouts/plant    180           51            22
mean % cover            133           68            16
mean height (cm)         22           17            14
mean biomass (g)         85           30             3
  • 62.  Mallik, A. U.; Gimingham, C. H. 1985. Ecological effects of heather        burning. II. Effects on seed germination and vegetative regeneration.        Journal of Ecology. 73: 633-644.  [6338]

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: competition, cover, severity, shrub

Vegetative response:  Dwarf bilberry commonly sprouts from underground
rhizomes or, when damage is less severe, from axillary buds located at
the stem base [62,90].  Sprouting ability appears closely related to
fire intensity and severity [62].  Dwarf bilberry generally sprouts
following all but hot fires [90].  A Colorado study suggests that
although postfire canopy cover is typically high on lightly burned
sites, this shrub may be virtually eliminated on severely burned areas
[109].  Postfire response is generally best in protected microsites or
on lightly burned areas [78,90].

Clonal vigor is often enhanced by fire.  Old, large, decadent clones are
often broken up by fire [38].  Surviving portions serve as isolated
centers of regeneration which give rise to the development of vigorous
daughter clones [81]. 

Seed:  Seedlings are rarely observed on burned sites [90].  Although
some researchers consider dwarf bilberry to be a seed banker, adequate
documentation is lacking [See Regeneration].  Birds and mammals may
carry some seed to burned sites.

Postfire response:  Vegetative expansion of dwarf bilberry may be rapid
after fire, particularly where competition is light [81].  Sprouting may
be evident within a few months after fires in which surface soil
temperatures reached as high as 820 degrees F (438 degrees C).  In
forests of northern Sweden, preburn cover can be reached within a few
years.  However, where underground rhizomes are destroyed by fire,
recovery may take a "very long time" [90].  On burned and clearcut old
growth forests of west-central Montana, dwarf bilberry had not attained
preburned biomass within 10 to 14 years after disturbance [78].
  • 38.  Hall, Ivan V.; Shay, Jennifer, M. 1981. The biological flora of Canada.        3. Vaccinium vitis-idaea L. var. minus Lodd. Supplementary Account.        Canadian Field-Naturalist. 95(4): 434-464.  [9125]
  • 62.  Mallik, A. U.; Gimingham, C. H. 1985. Ecological effects of heather        burning. II. Effects on seed germination and vegetative regeneration.        Journal of Ecology. 73: 633-644.  [6338]
  • 78.  Richardson, Nancy. 1980. Species-specific aboveground shrub biomass in        seral communities in three habitat types in west central Montana. Final        Report. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment        Station, Forestry Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. 57 p.  [7309]
  • 81.  Ritchie, J. C. 1956. Biological flora of the British Isles: Vaccinium        myrtillus L. Journal of Ecology. 44(1): 290-298.  [8943]
  • 90.  Uggla, Evald. 1959. Ecological effects of fire on north Swedish forests.        [Place of publication unknown]
  • 109.  Langenheim, Jean H. 1962. Vegetation and environmental patterns in the        Crested Butte area, Gunnison County, Colorado. Ecological Monographs.        32(2): 249-285.  [1399]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

Portions of stem bases occasionally survive light fires.  Underground
regenerative structures of dwarf bilberry generally survive all but
extremely hot fires [90].  Rhizomes, which occur at depths of 0.24 to
1.2 inches (6-30 mm) [41,90], can survive fires in which soil surface
temperatures reach 820 degrees F (438 degrees C) [90].  However,
rhizomes are sometimes destroyed on severely burned sites [90].

Seeds of most Vacciniums are of short viability and are readily killed
by heat [64].
  • 41.  Heath, G. H.; Luckwell, L. C.; Pullen, O. J. 1938. The rooting systems        of heath plants. Journal of Ecology. 26: 331-352.  [9016]
  • 64.  Martin, Patricia A. E. 1979. Productivity and taxonomy of the Vaccinium        globulare, V. membranaceum complex in western Montana. Missoula, MT:        University of Montana. 136 p. Thesis.  [9130]
  • 90.  Uggla, Evald. 1959. Ecological effects of fire on north Swedish forests.        [Place of publication unknown]

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the terms: rhizome, shrub

   Small shrub, adventitious-bud root crown
   Rhizomatous shrub, rhizome in soil
   Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)

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Fire Ecology

Dwarf bilberry appears well adapted to a regime of fairly frequent
fires.  In parts of Britain and presumably elsewhere, it commonly
persists on sites burned at "periodic" intervals [7,62].  However, this
shrub also thrives under longer fire intervals.  In parts of the central
and southern Rocky Mountains, it assumes dominance later than the first
century after fire [16].  Relatively long fire intervals have also been
reported in dwarf bilberry forests of Sweden, where mean fire
frequencies are estimated at approximately 91 years [35].

Dwarf bilberry is generally capable of sprouting from an extended
network of underground rhizomes after aboveground vegetation is
destroyed by fire.  Regeneration through seed is reportedly poor on
burned, previously forested sites [35].  Although some researchers
consider dwarf bilberry to be a seed banker [29,35], seedlings are
apparently rare [81].  Some seed may be carried to burned sites by birds
and mammals [35,81].
  • 35.  Granstrom, Anders. 1982. Seed banks in five boreal forest stands        originating between 1810 and 1963. Canadian Journal of Botany. 60:        1815-1821.  [5940]
  • 7.  Anderson, Derek J. 1961. The structure of some upland plant communities        in Caernarvonshire. Journal of Ecology. 49: 731-738.  [9120]
  • 16.  Clagg, Harry B. 1975. Fire ecology in high-elevation forests in        Colorado. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University. 137 p. Thesis.        [113]
  • 29.  Eriksson, O. 1989. Seedling dynamics and life histories in clonal        plants. Oikos. 55: 231-238.  [10322]
  • 62.  Mallik, A. U.; Gimingham, C. H. 1985. Ecological effects of heather        burning. II. Effects on seed germination and vegetative regeneration.        Journal of Ecology. 73: 633-644.  [6338]
  • 81.  Ritchie, J. C. 1956. Biological flora of the British Isles: Vaccinium        myrtillus L. Journal of Ecology. 44(1): 290-298.  [8943]

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: climax, natural, shrub

Dwarf bilberry occurs as a climax dominant in many high elevation
spruce-fir forests of western North America [5,25,84].  In high
elevation Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir and lodgepole pine forests of
Colorado, it assumes prominence after the first postfire century,
following the decline of rose (Rosa spp.), grouse whortleberry, and
kinnikinnick.  During later stages, it commonly assumes dominance with
cliffbush (Jamesia americana) and common juniper (Juniperus communis).
Occurrence of dwarf bilberry by stand age has been documented as follows
in Colorado [16]:

                         spruce - fir
                         stand age (years)

                   1   2   8    8   18   74   200    280   290   300   400
density (avg. #
    stems/plot)   -    -  66.6  45.0 -  171.0 151.5  79.2  96.3 132.8  136.8
frequency (%)     -    -  80    40      100   100    60    70   100     80

                          lodgepole pine
                          stand age (years)

                  8     18   18    85  108   115  190  248   251  257
density (avg. #
     stems/plot) 68.4  66.6  10.8 43.2 100.5  -   66.6 21.6  38.8 97.8
frequency (%)    40    80    20   80   100    -   80   21.6  60   100

In southern Finland, dwarf bilberry becomes abundant during secondary
succession after species such as fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium) have
flourished and declined [96].

In some locations, this shrub may become important in early seral
communities.  In parts of Britain, dwarf bilberry and mountain cranberry
commonly codominate heather communities soon after fire but then decline
in later successional stages [81].  Natural dieback of 12-year-old
bilberry stands has been reported [7].
  • 5.  Alexander, Robert R.; Ronco, Frank, Jr. 1987. Classification of the        forest vegetation on the National Forests of Arizona and New Mexico.        Res. Note RM-469. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture,        Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 10        p.  [3515]
  • 7.  Anderson, Derek J. 1961. The structure of some upland plant communities        in Caernarvonshire. Journal of Ecology. 49: 731-738.  [9120]
  • 16.  Clagg, Harry B. 1975. Fire ecology in high-elevation forests in        Colorado. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University. 137 p. Thesis.        [113]
  • 25.  DeVelice, Robert L.; Ludwig, John A.; Moir, William H.; Ronco, Frank,        Jr. 1986. A classification of forest habitat types of northern New        Mexico and southern Colorado. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-131. Fort Collins, CO:        U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest        and Range Experiment Station. 59 p.  [781]
  • 81.  Ritchie, J. C. 1956. Biological flora of the British Isles: Vaccinium        myrtillus L. Journal of Ecology. 44(1): 290-298.  [8943]
  • 84.  Ross, Robert L.; Hunter, Harold E. 1976. Climax vegetation of Montana        based on soils and climate. Bozeman, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture,        Soil Conservation Service. 64 p.  [2028]
  • 96.  Vasander, Harri. 1988. Yield of the red raspberry, Rubus idaeus, after        prescribed burning at Evo, southern Finland. Acta Bot. Fennica. 136:        61-63.  [8906]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the terms: fresh, rhizome

Dwarf bilberry can reproduce from seed or by vegetative means.

Vegetative regeneration:  Forms of vegetative regeneration appear to be
of primary importance after fire [81] or other disturbance.  However,
colonies increase laterally through rhizome expansion even in the
absence of disturbance.  Annual radial increases average 2.8 inches (7
cm) [(2 to 4 inches) (5-10 cm)] per year [81,92].

Dwarf bilberry possesses an extensive, frequently branched network of
rhizomes averaging 0.12 to 0.24 inch (3-6 mm) in diameter [41].  The
total length of rhizomes occasionally exceeds 3.3 feet (1 m), but the
amount producing sprouts typically measures only 28 to 35 inches (70-90
cm) in length [7].  Rhizome depth ranges from 0.24 to 1.2 inches (6-30
mm) below the soil surface [41,90].  Sprouting ability declines with age
[7].  Although rhizomes of 23 to 28 years of age have been reported
[92], few rhizomes older than 15 years produce aerial shoots with new
growth [7].  The extensive rhizome network allows for rapid regeneration
after disturbance [81].  Where portions of the stem base survive,
regeneration through surviving aboveground axillary buds also occurs
[62].

Seed:  Dwarf bilberry fruit contains an average of 18 to 20 viable seeds
per berry with an average of 18 imperfectly-formed seeds [81,91].  Seeds
weigh an average of 25 mg per 100 seeds [91].  Seed production generally
begins at age three [71] and is subject to considerable annual
variation.  [see Management Considerations - Berry Production].  Bees
are the primary pollinators [79].

Germination:  Germination averages 35 to 46 percent following various
types of pretreatment.  Germination of seed exposed to low temperatures
(32 degrees F [0 degrees C]) for 3 weeks averaged 41 to 64 percent [81].
Good germination has been reported after seeds were exposed to 14 hours
of light at 82 degrees F (28 degrees C) followed by 10 hours of darkness
at 55 degrees F (13 degrees C) [91].  Fresh seed germinated well under a
similar regime, or when exposed to alternating periods at 71 degrees F
(22 degrees C) and 41 degrees F (5 degrees C) [91].  Heat treatments
were found to produce some germination although the amount was irregular
[62].  The effect of temperature on germination was as follows [62]:

               effect of heat treatment on seed germination
               total germination after 24 weeks - percent -

              50 C            75 C             100 C

control        0               -                 -
30 sec        14               8                20
1 min          0               2                 6
2 min         16               0                 2

                effect of pretreatment on imbibed seeds after
                21 weeks at 0 degrees C -

 treatment                      percent germination

control                                64
cold only                               6
cold + 50 C for 1 minute               10
cold + 50 C for 2 minutes              14
cold + 50 C for 3 minutes              16
cold + 100 C for 1 minute               8
cold + 100 C for 2 minutes              4
cold + 100 C for 3 minutes              2

Seed banking:  Evidence for seed banking in dwarf bilberry appears
contradictory.  Some researchers have observed very few seeds in the
soil despite high coverage at the site and doubt if seed banking is an
important regenerative strategy in this species [89].  Most Vacciniums
are characterized by seed of relatively short viability which is readily
damaged by heat [64].  However, others emphasize the importance of seed
banking in dwarf bilberry [29,35,92].  Soil samples in Wales, for
example, have yielded 28 buried viable seeds per square foot (300 per/sq
m) [92].  In a Swedish forest, seeds were found in the lower humus layer
of 120-year-old stands as well as in the moss-litter layer of 50- and
169-year-old stands, suggesting a "continuous input of seeds" [35].
Seedlings were produced as follows from 25 buried soil cores, each of
which was 4 inches (100 mm) in diameter [35]:

   stand age     cover     frequency      seedlings produced
   (years)        (%)         (%)                (#)

       16          5           80                 22
       29         35          100                 10
       50         58          100                 93
      120         56          100                 49
      169         60          100                 95

In Sweden, single buried berries occasionally produced clusters of up to
20 seedlings [35].  Longevity of dwarf bilberry seed has not been
documented, although Granstrom [35] reports that many buried seeds may
be "quite old."

Seed dispersal:  Seeds of dwarf bilberry are widely dispersed by many
birds and mammals [35,81].  In laboratory tests, seedlings have
germinated from pellets of various lagomorphs [35].

Seedling establishment:  In many locations, including parts of northern
Europe, seedlings are rarely observed [81,90].  Seedlings of Vacciniums
are also rare in North America [92, (P. Stickney, pers. comm. 1990)].
However, seedling establishment of dwarf bilberry appears variable.
Establishment is reportedly poor on burned sites, on scarified
clearcuts, and in mature closed canopy forests [35].  However, Vander
Kloet [92] reports that on favorable sites in Sweden, seedlings may
number 25 per square foot (270 per square meter).  Initial development
of seedlings is very slow [81].
  • 35.  Granstrom, Anders. 1982. Seed banks in five boreal forest stands        originating between 1810 and 1963. Canadian Journal of Botany. 60:        1815-1821.  [5940]
  • 7.  Anderson, Derek J. 1961. The structure of some upland plant communities        in Caernarvonshire. Journal of Ecology. 49: 731-738.  [9120]
  • 29.  Eriksson, O. 1989. Seedling dynamics and life histories in clonal        plants. Oikos. 55: 231-238.  [10322]
  • 41.  Heath, G. H.; Luckwell, L. C.; Pullen, O. J. 1938. The rooting systems        of heath plants. Journal of Ecology. 26: 331-352.  [9016]
  • 62.  Mallik, A. U.; Gimingham, C. H. 1985. Ecological effects of heather        burning. II. Effects on seed germination and vegetative regeneration.        Journal of Ecology. 73: 633-644.  [6338]
  • 64.  Martin, Patricia A. E. 1979. Productivity and taxonomy of the Vaccinium        globulare, V. membranaceum complex in western Montana. Missoula, MT:        University of Montana. 136 p. Thesis.  [9130]
  • 71.  Pakonen, T.; Laine, K.; Havas, P.; Saari, E. 1988. Effects of berry        production and deblossoming on growth, carbohydrates and nitrogen        compounds in Vaccinium myrtillus in north Finland. Acta Botanica        Fennica. 136: 37-42.  [9604]
  • 79.  Ritchie, J. C. 1955. A natural hybrid in Vaccinium  I.  The structure,        performance, and chorology of the cross Vaccinium intermedium Ruthe. New        Phytology. 54: 49-67.  [9014]
  • 81.  Ritchie, J. C. 1956. Biological flora of the British Isles: Vaccinium        myrtillus L. Journal of Ecology. 44(1): 290-298.  [8943]
  • 89.  Thompson, K.; Grime, J. P. 1979. Seasonal variation in the seed banks of        herbaceous species in ten contrasting habitats. Journal of Ecology. 67:        893-921.  [90]
  • 90.  Uggla, Evald. 1959. Ecological effects of fire on north Swedish forests.        [Place of publication unknown]
  • 91.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1983. The taxonomy of Vaccinium and cyanococcus: a        summation. Canadian Journal of Botany. 61 1: 256-266.  [9009]
  • 92.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1988. The genus Vaccinium in North America.        Publication 1828. Ottawa: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 201 p.        [11436]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: geophyte, phanerophyte

   Phanerophyte
   Geophyte

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Life Form

More info for the term: shrub

Shrub

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Fire Management Implications

Crown fires can kill or drastically reduce sprouters such as dwarf
bilberry.

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: formation

Phenological development of dwarf bilberry varies with climate,
latitude, and longitude [95].  New leafy shoots generally develop in
March or April [81].  In a Finnish study, annual vegetative growth began
as buds began to swell on May 13 [95].  By June 1, leaf buds had
completely opened and vegetative growth continued until early to
mid-June.  Leaves were colored or shed by October 19 [95].  The active
growth period lasted approximately 5 months.  Development tends to be
delayed at higher elevations [81].

Seed set and berry formation begins two to four weeks after pollination
[81].  Berry ripening is completed about 50 days after flowering [95].
Phenological development was documented as follows in a Finnish study
[95]:

                               average # of days (since Jan. 1)

  beginning of veg. dev.                   136.3
  leaf buds begin to open                  147.6
  leaf buds completely open                152.3
  start of budding                         150.6
  opening of flowers                       153.4
  cessation of growth                      176.3
  beginning of green berry phase           170.8
  berries ripening                         202.1
  autumn color begins                      222.6
  autumn color ends                        292.2

Generalized seasonal development by geographic location is as follows
[49,73,95,97]:

     location         flowering         fruiting
 
     n ID             May-August           --
     AZ               June-July            --
     Southwest        May                 July
     s Finland        mid-May              --
     n Finland        early June           --
  • 49.  Kearney, Thomas H.; Peebles, Robert H.; Howell, John Thomas; McClintock,        Elizabeth. 1960. Arizona flora. 2d ed. Berkeley, CA: University of        California Press. 1085 p.  [6563]
  • 73.  Patterson, Patricia A.; Neiman, Kenneth E.; Tonn, Jonalea. 1985. Field        guide to forest plants of northern Idaho. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-180.        Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain        Research Station. 246 p.  [1839]
  • 81.  Ritchie, J. C. 1956. Biological flora of the British Isles: Vaccinium        myrtillus L. Journal of Ecology. 44(1): 290-298.  [8943]
  • 95.  Vanninen, Irene; Laakso, Seppo; Raatikainen, Mikko. 1988. Geographical        variation in the phenology and morphology of bilberry in Finland.        ActaBot. Fennica. 136: 49-59.  [6411]
  • 97.  Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest.        Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p.  [7707]

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Vaccinium myrtillus

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Vaccinium myrtillus

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 9
Specimens with Barcodes: 10
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: T4 - Apparently Secure

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Management

Management considerations

More info for the terms: cover, tree

Berry production:  Berry production in dwarf bilberry fluctuates
annually with weather conditions [31,56].  Spring frosts and summer
droughts can greatly decrease yields [31].  Production is typically good
in favorable, moist years, but during bad years no fruit is produced
over extensive areas [50].  Generally, fruit production is poor when
winter snow cover is less than 8 inches (20 cm) deep.  Buds are
vulnerable to damage by cold winter temperatures.  In some areas, flower
bud development may be greatly reduced when January temperatures have
reached -26 to -29 degrees F (-32 to -34 degrees C) [75].

The age of plant, canopy cover, stand age, and other site
characteristics can also influence berry production [56].  In some
areas, berry production may peak at stand ages of 20 to 70 years [20].
However, Kuchko [56] reports that in Finland, dwarf bilberry can bear
fruit for "some time after clearcutting," suggesting optimal fruit
production occurs during somewhat earlier seral stages.  Very young
shoots often allocate more resources to vegetative growth than to fruit
production [71].  As branches age, growth often declines [71].

Livestock:  Livestock trampling can compact the soil and reduce rhizome
sprouting and vegetative expansion of dwarf bilberry clones [7].  Stems
tend to be shorter where livestock numbers are high [95].

Chemical control:  Bilberries (Vaccinium spp.) exhibit variable
susceptibility to herbicides such as 2,4-D, 2,4,5-T, glyphosate,
karbutilate, and picloram [12,104].

Timber harvest:  Most species of Vaccinium are susceptible to
postlogging treatments which include heavy scarification [64].  This
appears to be true of dwarf bilberry as well.  However, other types of
timber treatments may produce increases in cover.  In central Colorado,
dwarf bilberry increased at all levels of tree thinning but declined
immediately after clearcutting [19].  Combined cover of dwarf bilberry
and grouse whortleberry was as follows after various types of timber
harvest [18,19]:

                                    percent cover
                 before logging     years after logging
                                    1     2     3     4     5

control          32.4             34.0  36.4  31.0  30.7  35.7
clearcutting     17.2             12.6  18.3  18.8  14.7  22.4

                                    percent cover
basal area      before thinning     years after thinning
(ft sq/acre)                        1     2     3     4      5

control         15.9              15.5  16.9   17.9  16.5   17.0
120             18.8              11.5  17.5   21.4  23.1   26.2
 80             12.6               5.3   7.4   10.6  10.5   16.7
 40             14.4               3.3   5.9    7.9   9.6   10.5

Damage:  Large clones may be broken up by frost, fire, or burrowing
mammals [38].  In the absence of a protective layer of snow, plants are
vulnerable to cold winter temperatures and may be killed by exposure to
temperatures of 3 degrees F (-19.5 degrees C) [38].

Silviculture:  Dwarf bilberry frequently serves as a nurse crop for
Douglas-fir seedlings [78].

Wildlife considerations:  Vaccinium berries are an extremely important
food source for bears.  In many areas, bear-human conflicts are most
likely to occur during years of berry (Vaccinium spp.) crop failure
[64,83].  Both black and grizzly bears typically exploit areas with
dense concentrations of berries.  The value of Vaccinium shrubfields as
grizzly bear habitat can be increased by permanent or at least seasonal
road closures, by coordinating timber harvest dates to have minimal
impact on habitat use patterns, and by considering the cumulative
effects of habitat modification across a broad area.  In general, site
preparation should include minimizing soil compaction, using cooler
broadcast burns rather than hot burns, or by eliminating site
preparation entirely wherever possible.  Grizzly use is favored where
hiding cover is retained by treating small, irregular patches instead of
large contiguous areas, and by leaving stringers of timber within larger
cuts [102].
  • 7.  Anderson, Derek J. 1961. The structure of some upland plant communities        in Caernarvonshire. Journal of Ecology. 49: 731-738.  [9120]
  • 12.  Bovey, Rodney W. 1977. Response of selected woody plants in the United        States to herbicides. Agric. Handb. 493. Washington, DC: U.S. Department        of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 101 p.  [8899]
  • 18.  Crouch, Glenn L. 1985. Effects of clearcutting a subalpine forest in        central Colorado on wildlife habitat. Res. Pap. RM-258. Fort Collins,        CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain        Forest and Range Experiment Station. 12 p.  [8225]
  • 19.  Crouch, Glenn L. 1986. Effects of thinning pole-sized lodgepole pine on        understory vegetation and large herbivore activity in central Colorado.        Res. Pap. RM-268. Fort Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture,        Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 10        p.  [8353]
  • 20.  Dahlgreen, Matthew Craig. 1984. Observations on the ecology of Vaccinium        membranaceum Dougl. on the southeast slope of the Washington Cascades.        Seattle, WA: University of Washington. 120 p. Thesis.  [2131]
  • 31.  Fernqvist, I. 1977. Results of experiments with cowberries and        blueberries in Sweden. Acta Horticulturae. 61: 295-300.  [9609]
  • 38.  Hall, Ivan V.; Shay, Jennifer, M. 1981. The biological flora of Canada.        3. Vaccinium vitis-idaea L. var. minus Lodd. Supplementary Account.        Canadian Field-Naturalist. 95(4): 434-464.  [9125]
  • 50.  Kelly, George W. 1970. A guide to the woody plants of Colorado. Boulder,        CO: Pruett Publishing Co. 180 p.  [6379]
  • 56.  Kuchko, A.A. 1988. Bilberry and cowberry yields and the factors        controlling them in the forests of Karelia, U.S.S.R. Acta Bot. Fennica.        136: 23-25.  [8903]
  • 64.  Martin, Patricia A. E. 1979. Productivity and taxonomy of the Vaccinium        globulare, V. membranaceum complex in western Montana. Missoula, MT:        University of Montana. 136 p. Thesis.  [9130]
  • 71.  Pakonen, T.; Laine, K.; Havas, P.; Saari, E. 1988. Effects of berry        production and deblossoming on growth, carbohydrates and nitrogen        compounds in Vaccinium myrtillus in north Finland. Acta Botanica        Fennica. 136: 37-42.  [9604]
  • 75.  Raatikainen, Mikko; Vanninen, Irene. 1988. The effects of the 1984-1985        cold winter on the bilberry and ligonberry yield in Finland. Acta Bot.        Fennica. 136: 43-47.  [8902]
  • 78.  Richardson, Nancy. 1980. Species-specific aboveground shrub biomass in        seral communities in three habitat types in west central Montana. Final        Report. USDA Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment        Station, Forestry Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. 57 p.  [7309]
  • 83.  Rogers, Lynn. 1976. Effects of mast and berry crop failures on survival,        growth, and reproductive success of black bears. Transactions, North        American Wildlife Conference. 41: 431-438.  [8951]
  • 95.  Vanninen, Irene; Laakso, Seppo; Raatikainen, Mikko. 1988. Geographical        variation in the phenology and morphology of bilberry in Finland.        ActaBot. Fennica. 136: 49-59.  [6411]
  • 102.  Zager, Peter Edward. 1980. The influence of logging and wildfire on        grizzly bear habitat in northwestern Montana. Missoula, MT: University        of Montana. 131 p. Dissertation.  [5032]
  • 104.  Cadbury, C. J. 1976. Botanical implications of bracken control.        Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society. 73: 285-294.  [9621]

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Uses: MEDICINE/DRUG

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Other uses and values

More info for the term: fresh

Fruit of dwarf bilberry is juicy, edible, and has a "nutlike flavor"
[50].  Berries are eaten fresh or gathered for use in jams and jellies
[31,92].  Fruit may be used in pie filling [92]; however, collecting
enough of the small berries can be difficult [50].  Leaves of dwarf
bilberry have been used to make tea [50].  Both fruit and leaves are
reported to have some medicinal value [56].  Vaccinium berries were
traditionally an important food source for many native peoples.  Fruit
of the dwarf bilberry was traditionally used by the Kootenai, Carriers,
and Shuswap in North America, and by many indigenous peoples throughout
northern Europe and Siberia [92].

Dwarf bilberry may have potential value for breeding commercial
fruit-producing strains [60], particularly those suited to upland
mineral soil [53].  Dwarf bilberry may also be useful in developing
cold-hardy cultivars for northern plantings [21].  It is tolerant of
cold winter temperatures, and some strains may be hardy to -70 degrees F
(-57 degrees C) [21].
  • 21.  Darrow, George M. 1960. Blueberry breeding, past, present, future.        American Horticultural Magazine. 39(1): 14-33.  [9126]
  • 31.  Fernqvist, I. 1977. Results of experiments with cowberries and        blueberries in Sweden. Acta Horticulturae. 61: 295-300.  [9609]
  • 50.  Kelly, George W. 1970. A guide to the woody plants of Colorado. Boulder,        CO: Pruett Publishing Co. 180 p.  [6379]
  • 53.  Korcak, Ronald F. 1988. Nutrition of blueberry and other calcifuges.        Horticultural Reviews. 10: 183-227.  [9612]
  • 56.  Kuchko, A.A. 1988. Bilberry and cowberry yields and the factors        controlling them in the forests of Karelia, U.S.S.R. Acta Bot. Fennica.        136: 23-25.  [8903]
  • 60.  Liebster, G. 1977. Experimental and research work on fruit species of        the genus Vaccinium in Germany. Acta Horticulturae. 61: 19-24.  [9693]
  • 92.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1988. The genus Vaccinium in North America.        Publication 1828. Ottawa: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 201 p.        [11436]

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Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

More info for the terms: hardwood, rhizome

The extensive rhizome network of dwarf bilberry can aid in preventing
soil erosion once plants become established [93].  Species within the
genus Vaccinium can be propagated from hardwood stem cuttings or from
seed [17].  Root cuttings of dwarf bilberry can be successfully
transplanted onto disturbed sites and mature plants can be transplanted
during the spring [9,33].  Vegetative propagation of dwarf bilberry has
been examined in detail [92].  Vaccinium seedlings grown in the
greenhouse can be transplanted onto favorable sites 6 to 7 weeks after
emergence.  Seed collection and storage techniques have been well
documented [17].
  • 9.  Barker, W. G.; Hall, I. V.; Aalders, L. E.; Wood, G. W. 1964. The        lowbush blueberry industry in eastern Canada. Economic Botany. 18(4):        357-365.  [9019]
  • 17.  Crossley, John A. 1974. Vaccinium L.   Blueberry. In: Schopmeyer, C. S.,        ed. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450.        Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 840-843.        [7774]
  • 33.  Flinn, Marguerite Adele. 1980. Heat penetration and early postfire        regeneration of some understory species in the Acadian forest. Halifax,        NB: University of New Brunswick. 87 p. Thesis.  [9876]
  • 92.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1988. The genus Vaccinium in North America.        Publication 1828. Ottawa: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 201 p.        [11436]
  • 93.  Vander Kloet, S. P.; Hall, I. V. 1981. The biological flora of Canada.        2. Vaccinium myrtilloides Michx., velvet-leaf blueberry. Canadian Field        Naturalist. 95: 329-345.  [9107]

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Cover Value

More info for the term: cover

Dwarf bilberry provides some cover for small birds and mammals.  The
diverse canopy layers associated with subalpine fir/dwarf bilberry
forests of the Southwest reportedly serve as good habitat for deer, elk,
and many species of birds [32].  Cover value of dwarf bilberry has been
rated as follows [26]:

                          UT     WY

Pronghorn                poor   poor
Elk                      poor   poor
Mule deer                poor   poor
Small mammals            good   good  
Small nongame birds      fair   good
Upland game birds        fair   fair
  • 26.  Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information        network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and        Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior,        Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p.  [806]
  • 32.  Fitzhugh, E. Lee; Moir, William H.; Ludwig, John A.; Ronco, Frank, Jr.        1987. Forest habitat types in the Apache, Gila, and part of the Cibola        National Forests, Arizona and New Mexico. Gen. Tech. Rep. RM-145. Fort        Collins, CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky        Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 116 p.  [4206]

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Nutritional Value

Browse:  Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) foliage is relatively high in
carotene, manganese, and energy content [20,39,93].  Nutrient value of
dwarf bilberry browse varies according to weather conditions, site
characteristics such as soil type and elevation, plant part, and timber
treatment [18,57,86,100].  Nitrogen content depends in large part on
available soil nutrients, with total leaf nitrogen typically increasing
with elevation [57,100].  Selected nutrient value of dwarf bilberry
browse by timber treatment is as follows [18,86]:

                       subalpine forest - central Colorado -
                                  (percent)         

                                3 yrs                 5 yrs
                       uncut    clearcut         uncut       clearcut

crude protein          9.3        11.2            11.0         12.6
moisture              57.3        60.3            60.2         60.4
in vitro digest.      28.0        29.2            31.1         38.3

                        northwestern Montana -
                         (micrograms per g)

                  Ca    Cu   Fe    K    Mg    Mn    N    Na    P    Zn
clearcut - burn
         stem    6105   7.4   66  3895  1259 1059  6718  134  1232  53
         leaves  8950   9.7  113  9480  3061 1410 19040  160  2296  25
control - unburned
         stem    5100    --   92  2880   752 1200  9100  119   943  39
         leaves  8540  12.1  153  7460  1808 2770 25470 1721  1937  21

Fruit:  Vaccinium berries are sweet and contain high concentrations of
both mono- and disaccharides [88].  Berries are rich in vitamin C and
energy content but low in fats [45,77].
  • 88.  Stiles, Edmund W. 1980. Patterns of fruit presentation and seed        dispersal in bird-disseminated woody plants in the Eastern deciduous        forest. American Naturalist. 116(5): 670-688.  [6508]
  • 18.  Crouch, Glenn L. 1985. Effects of clearcutting a subalpine forest in        central Colorado on wildlife habitat. Res. Pap. RM-258. Fort Collins,        CO: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain        Forest and Range Experiment Station. 12 p.  [8225]
  • 20.  Dahlgreen, Matthew Craig. 1984. Observations on the ecology of Vaccinium        membranaceum Dougl. on the southeast slope of the Washington Cascades.        Seattle, WA: University of Washington. 120 p. Thesis.  [2131]
  • 39.  Hanley, Thomas A.; McKendrick, Jay D. 1983. Seasonal changes in chemical        composition and nutritive values of native forages in a spruce-hemlock        forests, southeastern Alaska. Res. Pap. PNW-312. Portland, OR: U.S.        Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and        Range Experiment Station. 41 p.  [8770]
  • 45.  Hunn, Eugene S.; Norton, Helen H. 1984. Impact of Mt. St. Helens ashfall        on fruit yields of mountain huckleberry Vaccinium membranaceum,        important Native American food. Economic Botany. 38(1): 121-127.  [9501]
  • 57.  Laine, Kari M.; Henttonen, Heikki. 1987. Phenolics/nitrogen ratios in        the blueberry Vaccinium myrtillus in relation to temperature and        microtine density in Finnish Lapland. Oikos. 50: 389-395.  [3960]
  • 77.  Reich, Lee. 1988. Backyard blues. Organic Gardening. 35(6): 28-34.        [9179]
  • 86.  Stark, Nellie M. [n.d.]
  • 93.  Vander Kloet, S. P.; Hall, I. V. 1981. The biological flora of Canada.        2. Vaccinium myrtilloides Michx., velvet-leaf blueberry. Canadian Field        Naturalist. 95: 329-345.  [9107]
  • 100.  Woodward, F. I. 1986. Ecophysiological studies on the shrub Vaccinium        myrtillus L. taken from a wide altitudinal range. Oecologia. 70:        580-586.  [6278]

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Palatability

Dwarf bilberry browse is described as "worthless" for cattle but on
occasion is of fair palatability to domestic sheep [22].  Palatability
to big game species appears slight.  Fruit of dwarf bilberry is highly
palatable to a wide variety of birds and mammals.  Overall palatability
of dwarf bilberry has been rated as follows [26]:

                      CO     UT     WY

Cattle               poor   poor   ----
Sheep                fair   fair   ----
Horses               poor   poor   ----
Pronghorn            ----   poor   poor
Elk                  ----   good   fair
Mule deer            ----   good   good
White-tailed deer    ----   ----   good
Small mammals        good   good   good
Small nongame birds  good   good   good
Upland game birds    ----   good   good
Waterfowl            ----   poor   poor
  • 26.  Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information        network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and        Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior,        Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p.  [806]
  • 22.  Dayton, William A. 1931. Important western browse plants. Misc. Publ.        101. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 214 p.  [768]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

More info for the term: tree

Browse:  A variety of small mammals consume the twigs, leaves, and bark
of dwarf bilberry [57,71].  Throughout most of Scandinavia, dwarf
bilberry is the primary winter food of the gray-sided vole
(Clethrionomys rufocanus) [57].  Browse appears to be of negligible
value to large ungulates.

Fruit:  Berries of dwarf bilberry are eaten by many birds and mammals
[56] including the ring-necked pheasant, hares, grouse, partridges,
ptarmigans, and bears [35,74,81].  In Finland, these berries make up a
high percentage of brown bear diets during August.  Coniferous forests
with a dwarf bilberry understory provide essential brown bear habitat
during late summer in parts of Scandinavia [74].  Dwarf bilberry was
presumably of similar importance to grizzly bears in North America prior
to their extirpation from the central and southern Rocky Mountains.
Vaccinium berries are readily eaten by the band-tailed pigeon, wild
turkey, gray catbird, ruffed, spruce, blue, and sharp-tailed grouse,
tanagers, bluebirds, thrushes, quails, and towhees [63,92,94].  The
white-footed mouse, gray fox, red fox, raccoon, pika, deer mouse, and
numerous species of chipmunks, ground squirrels, tree squirrels, and
skunks also feed on Vaccinium fruit [54,63,94].
  • 63.  Martin, Alexander C.; Zim, Herbert S.; Nelson, Arnold L. 1951. American        wildlife and plants. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 500 p.        [4021]
  • 35.  Granstrom, Anders. 1982. Seed banks in five boreal forest stands        originating between 1810 and 1963. Canadian Journal of Botany. 60:        1815-1821.  [5940]
  • 54.  Krefting, Laurits W.; Roe, Eugene I. 1949. The role of some birds and        mammals in seed germination. Ecological Monographs. 19(3): 269-286.        [8847]
  • 56.  Kuchko, A.A. 1988. Bilberry and cowberry yields and the factors        controlling them in the forests of Karelia, U.S.S.R. Acta Bot. Fennica.        136: 23-25.  [8903]
  • 57.  Laine, Kari M.; Henttonen, Heikki. 1987. Phenolics/nitrogen ratios in        the blueberry Vaccinium myrtillus in relation to temperature and        microtine density in Finnish Lapland. Oikos. 50: 389-395.  [3960]
  • 71.  Pakonen, T.; Laine, K.; Havas, P.; Saari, E. 1988. Effects of berry        production and deblossoming on growth, carbohydrates and nitrogen        compounds in Vaccinium myrtillus in north Finland. Acta Botanica        Fennica. 136: 37-42.  [9604]
  • 74.  Pulliainen, Erkki. 1986. Habitat selection in the brown bear in eastern        Finland. In: Contreras, Glen P.; Evans, Keith E, compilers. Proceedings        - grizzly bear habitat symposium; 1985 April 30 - May 2; Missoula, MT.        General Technical Report INT-207. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of        Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 113-115.        [11415]
  • 81.  Ritchie, J. C. 1956. Biological flora of the British Isles: Vaccinium        myrtillus L. Journal of Ecology. 44(1): 290-298.  [8943]
  • 92.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1988. The genus Vaccinium in North America.        Publication 1828. Ottawa: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 201 p.        [11436]
  • 94.  Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States,        their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S.        Department of Agriculture. 362 p.  [4240]

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Wikipedia

Vaccinium myrtillus

Vaccinium myrtillus is a species of shrub with edible fruit of blue color, commonly called "bilberry", "whortleberry" or European blueberry.[1] It has much in common with the American blueberry (Vaccinium cyanococcus). It is more precisely called common bilberry or blue whortleberry, to distinguish it from other Vaccinium relatives. Regional names include blaeberry, hurtleberry,[2] huckleberry, winberry[3] and fraughan.[4]

Range[edit]

The flowers are borne singly in leaf axils on 2–3 mm long pedicels. The corolla is pink and shaped like an urn. The leaves are finely toothed and prominently veined on the lower surface.

Vaccinium myrtillus is found natively in Europe, northern Asia, Greenland, Western Canada, and the Western United States.[5] It occurs in the wild on heathlands and acidic soils. Its berry has been long consumed in the Old World.[6] It is related to the widely cultivated North American blueberry.

Uses[edit]

Fruit[edit]

Vaccinium myrtillus has been used for nearly 1,000 years in traditional European medicine. Vaccinium myrtillus fruits have been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally (directly or as tea or liqueur) for treatment of disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and diabetes.[7] Herbal supplements of V. myrtillus (bilberry) on the market are used for circulatory problems, as vision aids, and to treat diarrhea and other conditions.[1][8]

In cooking, the bilberry fruit is commonly used for the same purposes as the American blueberry: pies, cakes, jams, muffins, cookies, sauces, syrups, juices, candies and so on.[1][9]

Leaf[edit]

In traditional medicine, Bilberry leaf is used for different conditions, including diabetes.[1] The United States' National Institutes of Health rates it as "possibly effective for problems with the retina of the eye in people with diabetes or high blood pressure".[10]

Confusion between bilberries and American blueberries[edit]

Bilberries (shown here) and American blueberries are nearly identical, and used for the same purposes.

Since many people refer to "blueberries", no matter if they mean the bilberry (European blueberry) Vaccinium myrtillus or the American blueberries, there is a lot of confusion about the two closely similar fruits. One can distinguish bilberries from their American counterpart by the following differences:

  • bilberries have dark red, strongly fragrant flesh and red juice that turns blue in basic environments: blueberries have white or translucent, mildly fragrant flesh
  • bilberries grow on low bushes with solitary fruits, and are found wild in heathland in the Northern Hemisphere; blueberries grow on large bushes with the fruit in bunches
  • bilberries are usually harvested from wild plants, while blueberries are usually cultivated and are widely available commercially
  • cultivated blueberries often come from hybrid cultivars, developed about 100 years ago by agricultural specialists, most prominently by Elizabeth Coleman White, to meet growing consumer demand; since they are bigger, the bushes grow taller, and are easier to harvest
  • bilberry fruit will stain hands, teeth and tongue deep blue or purple while eating; it was used as a dye for food and clothes:[11] blueberries have flesh of a less intense colour, thus less staining
  • when cooked as a dessert, bilberries have a much stronger, more tart flavour and a rougher texture than blueberries

Adding to the confusion is the fact there are also wild American blueberry varieties, sold in stores mainly in the USA and Canada. These are uncommon outside of Northern America. Even more confusion is due to the huckleberry name, which originates from English dialectal names 'hurtleberry' and 'whortleberry' for the bilberry.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Comments

The berries are edible.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO, 63110 USA

Source: Missouri Botanical Garden

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

The currently accepted scientific name of dwarf bilberry is Vaccinium
myrtillus L. [48]. It is placed within the section Myrtillus [69,92].
The following subspecies have been delineated on the basis of
morphological differences [92]:

Vaccinium myrtillus ssp. myrtillus
Vaccinium myrtillus ssp. oreophilum (Rydb.) Love, Love and Kapoor

The Vaccinium genus is taxonomically complex [14]. Hybridization and
polyploidy make delineation of species difficult [14,15]. Dwarf
bilberry may have received genetic material from globe huckleberry (V.
globulare), dwarf huckleberry (V. caespitosum), and/or blue huckleberry
(V. membranaceum) [13]. Some taxonomists believe that the blue
huckleberry may be a derivative of globe huckleberry and dwarf bilberry
[20]. Naturally occurring dwarf bilberry-mountain cranberry (V. vitis-idaea)
hybrids have been reported in parts of northern Europe [1,37,60,79].
Numerous intermediate forms have been observed, although fruit set is
apparently rare in these populations [44]. V. X intermedium Ruthe is a
natural hybrid resulting from a dwarf bilberry-mountain cranberry cross
[44,79,81].
  • 13.  Camp, W. H. 1942. A survey of the American species of Vaccinium,        subgenus Euvaccinium. Brittonia. 4: 205-247.  [6950]
  • 20.  Dahlgreen, Matthew Craig. 1984. Observations on the ecology of Vaccinium        membranaceum Dougl. on the southeast slope of the Washington Cascades.        Seattle, WA: University of Washington. 120 p. Thesis.  [2131]
  • 60.  Liebster, G. 1977. Experimental and research work on fruit species of        the genus Vaccinium in Germany. Acta Horticulturae. 61: 19-24.  [9693]
  • 69.  Odell, A. E.; Vander Kloet, S. P.; Newell, R. E. 1989. Stem anatomy of        Vaccinium section Cyanococcus and related taxa. Canadian Journal of        Botany. 67(8): 2328-2334.  [8944]
  • 79.  Ritchie, J. C. 1955. A natural hybrid in Vaccinium  I.  The structure,        performance, and chorology of the cross Vaccinium intermedium Ruthe. New        Phytology. 54: 49-67.  [9014]
  • 81.  Ritchie, J. C. 1956. Biological flora of the British Isles: Vaccinium        myrtillus L. Journal of Ecology. 44(1): 290-298.  [8943]
  • 92.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1988. The genus Vaccinium in North America.        Publication 1828. Ottawa: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 201 p.        [11436]
  • 1.  Ahokas, Hannu. 1971. Notes on polyploidy and hybridity in Vaccinium        species. Annales Botanici Fennici. 8: 254-256.  [9699]
  • 14.  Camp, W. H. 1942. On the structure of populations in the genus        Vaccinium. Brittonia. 4(2): 189-204.  [9512]
  • 15.  Camp, W. H. 1945. The North American blueberries with notes on other        groups of Vacciniaceae. Brittonia. 5(3): 203-275.  [9515]
  • 37.  Hall, Ivan V.; Aalders, Lewis E. 1962. A natural hybrid between        Vaccinium myrtilloides and Vaccinium boreale on Cape Breton Island.        Canadian Field-Naturalist. 76(4): 203-205.  [9504]
  • 44.  Holloway, Patricia Sue. 1981. Studies on vegetative and reproductive        growth of lingonberry, Vaccinium vitis-idaea L. Saint Paul, MN:        University of Minnesota. 148 p. Thesis.  [9610]
  • 48.  Kartesz, John T.; Kartesz, Rosemarie. 1980. A synonymized checklist of        the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. Volume        II: The biota of North America. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North        Carolina Press; in confederation with Anne H. Lindsey and C. Richie        Bell, North Carolina Botanical Garden. 500 p.  [6954]

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Common Names

dwarf bilberry
whortleberry

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Synonyms

Vaccinium oreophilum

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