Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

This is a shrub or small tree up to 15' tall (rarely to 30' tall) with a single trunk up to ½' across (rarely to 1' across). Farkleberry is typically a much-branched shrub about 3-8' tall as the marginal habitats where it occurs restrict its growth and development. The trunk bark is brown, gray, or red, or some combination these colors; it is thin and prone to shredding. Branches and older twigs are gray and relatively smooth, while young twigs are reddish brown. The branches and twigs of this shrub are often crooked. Young shoots are light green to reddish green and usually pubescent, otherwise they are glabrous. Alternate leaves occur along the young twigs and shoots. These leaves are 1-3" long, ½-1½" across, and somewhat leathery in texture; they are ovate, obovate, or broadly elliptic in shape, while their margins are smooth (entire) or minutely serrated. The leaf tips are either rounded or taper abruptly to blunt points, while the leaf bases are usually wedge-shaped. Leaf venation is pinnate; the secondary veins are widely separated and relatively sparse across the leaf surface. The upper leaf surface is medium green, glabrous, and somewhat shiny, while the lower leaf surface is pale green and glabrous to finely pubescent (fine hairs are most likely to occur along the central veins of the leaves). Racemes of nodding flowers up to 2" long are produced near the tips of the twigs of the preceding year. These racemes are produced individually or in small clusters of 2-5. The central stalks of these racemes are light green and finely pubescent, while the pedicels are about ½" long, light green, and glabrous (or nearly so). Each flower is about ¼" long and similarly across, consisting of a short calyx with 5 broad teeth, a bell-shaped corolla that is nearly globoid in shape, 10 inserted stamens, and a pistil with a single style. The calyx is light green and glabrous, while the corolla is usually white (less often pinkish white). The corolla also has 5 small lobes along its outer rim that are recurved. In addition to the flowers, the racemes have leafy to scale-like bracts that are less than 1" in length. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer for about 3 weeks. Afterwards, fertile flowers are replaced by globoid berries that become 6-8 mm. across at maturity during the late summer or fall. Mature berries are black and shiny, often persisting into the winter. The interior of the berries is mealy and dry, varying in flavor from bitter to sweet. Each berry contains up to 10 seeds. The seeds are stony, shiny, and variously shaped; they are about 2 mm. in length. This small tree or shrub reproduces by reseeding itself. In Illinois, Farkleberry is late-deciduous, while in areas further to the south its leaves can be evergreen.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Farkleberry is occasional in southern Illinois, while in the rest of the state it is absent (see Distribution Map). Illinois lies along the northern range limit of this species. Habitats include rocky ledges, upper slopes of rocky canyons, upper slopes of rocky ravines, the tops of cliffs, rocky bluffs, sandstone glades, barren upland savannas, and upland rocky woodlands. In many of these habitats, Farkleberry is found in association with Juniperus virginiana (Eastern Red Cedar) and Quercus stellata (Post Oak). Outside of Illinois, Farkleberry is also found on sand dunes, sandy savannas, and other sandy areas, often in association with Pinus spp. (pines). Because of its thin bark, Farkleberry is vulnerable to fire.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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National Distribution

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Source: NatureServe

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More info for the term: tree

Tree sparkleberry grows from central Florida westward to central
Oklahoma, southeastern Missouri, southeastern Kansas, and the Edwards
Plateau of Texas [6,22,38]. It extends northward to southern Illinois,
southern Indiana, and Virginia [22,49]. Tree sparkleberry is rare and
local in Kentucky, Virginia, Illinois, and Indiana [45]. Uttal [44] has
reported that it occurs in parts of Mexico and the West Indies. The
variety glaucescens grows from Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma, northward
to Kentucky, Missouri, and Illinois [48].
  • 48. Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p. [7707]
  • 22. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p. [2952]
  • 6. Camp, W. H. 1945. The North American blueberries with notes on other groups of Vacciniaceae. Brittonia. 5(3): 203-275. [9515]
  • 38. Stephens, H. A. 1973. Woody plants of the North Central Plains. Lawrence, KS: The University Press of Kansas. 530 p. [3804]
  • 44. Uttal, Leonard J. 1987. The Genus Vaccinium L. (Ericaceae) in Virginia. Castanea. 52(4): 231-255. [6240]
  • 45. Vander Kloet, S. P. 1988. The genus Vaccinium in North America. Publication 1828. Ottawa: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 201 p. [11436]
  • 49. Ward, Daniel B. 1974. Contributions to the flora of Florida - 6, Vaccinium (Ericaceae). Castanea. 39(3): 191-205. [10868]

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Occurrence in North America

AL AR FL GA IL IN KS KY LA MS
MO NC OK SC TN TX VA MEXICO

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the terms: perfect, shrub, shrubs, tree

Tree sparkleberry grows as a large, much-branched, upright shrub or
small tree [13,34,48]. Individuals may grow as tall plants with rounded
crowns, or as flat-topped shrubs with crooked branches [38]. Shrubby
plants commonly reach only 7 to 10 feet (2-3 m) in height [38,45].
However, on favorable sites, plants may grow to 33 feet (10 m) with a
d.b.h. of up to 14 inches (35 cm) [38,45]. Record trees have been
measured at 64 feet (19 m) in height with circumferences of up to 116
inches (45.9 cm) [25]. Tree sparkleberry is the only member of the
Vaccinium genus to reach tree size [22]. Shrubby plants commonly form
loose thickets [38].

The outer bark is gray to grayish-brown, thin, and smooth, with narrow
ridges [48]. The slender, rigid twigs are reddish-brown to
reddish-green or gray, and glaucous, glabrous, or glandular-pubescent
[38,44,45]. Stem morphology has been reported in detail [32]. Leaves
of tree sparkleberry are variable in size, shape, and persistence [38].
Plants tend to be deciduous in the north but evergreen in the southern
part of the species' range [13,48]. The simple, alternate leaves are
coriaceous, glabrous, and lustrous above [38,45]. The lower surface is
glaucous, duller green, and often glandular-pubescent [45,48]. Leaves
are obovate to elliptic, approximately 1 to 3 inches (3-8 cm) in length
with entire or obscurely denticulate margins [44,48].

The showy, white to pinkish flowers of tree sparkleberry grow in
abundance [44,48]. The perfect flowers are borne in leafy-bracted
racemes or panicles that average 0.8 to 2.7 inches (2-7 cm) in length
[13,48]. Inflorescences typically occur on second year growth [34].
Palser [33] has examined floral morphology in detail. Fruit is a black,
lustrous, globose berry 0.2 to 0.4 inch (5-9 mm) in diameter [34,45,48].
Berries are sweet but dry, hard, and mealy [2,48]. The fruit typically
persists well into the winter months [44,48]. Each berry contains 8 to
10 stony, shiny, black to golden-brown seeds [2,38,48,52]. The
variously-shaped, deeply pitted seeds average 0.08 inch (2 mm) in length
[45,48].

The variety glaucescens is distinguished by a larger inflorescence and
glaucescent leaves [48].
  • 13. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p. [1603]
  • 48. Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p. [7707]
  • 22. Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). Agric. Handb. 541. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 375 p. [2952]
  • 2. Ballinger, W. E.; Maness, E. P.; Ballington, J. R. 1982. Anthocyanins in ripe fruit of the sparkleberry, Vaccinium arboreum Marsh. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 62(3): 683-687. [9189]
  • 25. May, Dennis M. 1990. Big trees of the midsouth forest survey. Res. Note SO-359. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 17 p. [10556]
  • 32. 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]
  • 33. Palser, Barbara F. 1961. Studies of floral morphology in the Ericales. V. Organography and vascular anatomy in several United States species of the Vacciniaceae. Botanical Gazette. 123(2): 79-111. [9032]
  • 34. Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. 1183 p. [7606]
  • 38. Stephens, H. A. 1973. Woody plants of the North Central Plains. Lawrence, KS: The University Press of Kansas. 530 p. [3804]
  • 44. Uttal, Leonard J. 1987. The Genus Vaccinium L. (Ericaceae) in Virginia. Castanea. 52(4): 231-255. [6240]
  • 45. Vander Kloet, S. P. 1988. The genus Vaccinium in North America. Publication 1828. Ottawa: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 201 p. [11436]
  • 52. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p. [12764]

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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Farkleberry is occasional in southern Illinois, while in the rest of the state it is absent (see Distribution Map). Illinois lies along the northern range limit of this species. Habitats include rocky ledges, upper slopes of rocky canyons, upper slopes of rocky ravines, the tops of cliffs, rocky bluffs, sandstone glades, barren upland savannas, and upland rocky woodlands. In many of these habitats, Farkleberry is found in association with Juniperus virginiana (Eastern Red Cedar) and Quercus stellata (Post Oak). Outside of Illinois, Farkleberry is also found on sand dunes, sandy savannas, and other sandy areas, often in association with Pinus spp. (pines). Because of its thin bark, Farkleberry is vulnerable to fire.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Habitat characteristics

More info for the terms: swamp, tree, xeric

Tree sparkleberry grows on sand dunes, hammocks, granitic outcrops, dry
sterile hillsides, in rocky woods, abandoned fields, and meadows
[37,38,41,45,49]. It also occurs on a variety of moist sites such as in
wet bottomlands and along creek banks [37,41,45]. Tree sparkleberry is
common throughout much of the Coastal Plain and in the Piedmont [34].
In the southern Appalachians, plants generally grow below 2,591 feet
(790 m) in elevation [52].

Tree sparkleberry grows in many plant communities including mixed
swamps, cypress heads or domes, bayheads, and sand hills [19,28,29,30].
It also occurs in many xeric mixed pine-hardwood forests, pine
flatwoods, post oak savanna, and sand-pine scrub [19,37,45]. Common
overstory dominants include longleaf pine (Pinus palustris), loblolly
pine (P. taeda), slash pine (P. elliottii), shortleaf pine (P.
echinata), turkey oak (Quercus laevis), live oak (Q. virginana),
blackjack oak, hickory, black swamp tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), and
sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) [5,7,9,12,26,36,40]. Toward the
northern portion of its range in Missouri and Illinois, tree
sparkleberry may be an important mid-canopy species in eastern redcedar
(Juniperus virginiana) or eastern redcedar-post oak (Quercus stellata)
stands [31,50].

Understory associates: Common understory associates in longleaf pine
and longleaf-slash pine communities include deerberry (Vaccinium
stamineum), flameleaf sumac (Rhus copallina), poison-ivy (Toxicodendron
radicans), southern bayberry (Myrica cerifera), bluejack oak (Quercus
incana), gum bumelia (Bumelia languginosa), yaupon (Ilex vomitoria), and
muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia) [5,24,39]. Flowering dogwood
(Cornus florida), possumhaw (Ilex decidua), yaupon, saw greenbriar
(Smilax bona-nox), common greenbrier (S. rotundifolia), rusty blackhaw
(Viburnum rufidulum), muscadine grape, and various oaks are common
components of loblolly-shortleaf pine forests [4,7,40]. Other common
associates include hawthorne (Crataegus spp.), common persimmon
(Diospyros virginiana), sweet bay (Magnolia grandiflora), red bay
(Persea borbonia), hackberry (Celtis spp.), water oak (Quercus nigra),
and coast laurel oak (Q. laurifolia) [9,14,37].
  • 4. Blair, Robert M.; Brunett, Louis E. 1976. Phytosociological changes after timber harvest in a southern pine ecosystem. Ecology. 57: 18-32. [9646]
  • 24. Matos, J. A.; Rudolph, D. C. 1985. The vegetation of the Roy E. Larsen Sandylands Sanctuary in the Big Thicket of Texas. Castanea. 50(4): 228-249. [10114]
  • 5. Bridges, Edwin L.; Orzell, Steve L. 1989. Longleaf pine communities of the west Gulf Coastal Plain. Natural Areas Journal. 9(4): 246-263. [10091]
  • 7. Harlow, Richard F.; Bielling, Paul. 1961. Controlled burning studies in longleaf pine-turkey oak association on the Ocala National Forest. Proceeding, Annual Conference of Southeastern Association of Game and Fish. 15: 9-24. [9905]
  • 9. Daubenmire, Rexford. 1990. The Magnolia grandiflora-Quercus virginiana forest of Florida. American Midland Naturalist. 123: 331-347. [10871]
  • 12. Golden, Michael S. 1979. Forest vegetation of the lower Alabama Piedmont. Ecology. 60(4): 770-782. [9643]
  • 14. Hartley, Jeanne J.; Arner, Dale H.; Hartley, Danny R. 1990. Woody plant succession on disposal areas of the Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway. In: Hughes, H. Glenn; Bonnicksen, Thomas M., eds. Restoration '89: the new management challenge: Proceedings, 1st annual meeting of the Society for Ecological Restoration; 1989 January 16-20; Oakland, CA. Madison, WI: The University of Wisconsin Arboretum, Society for Ecological Restoration: 227-236. [14698]
  • 19. Laessle, Albert M. 1958. The origin and successional relationship of sandhill vegetation and sand-pine scrub. Ecological Monographs. 28(4): 361-387. [9780]
  • 26. McGinty, Douglas T.; Christy, E. Jennifer. 1977. Turkey oak ecology on a Georgia sandhill. American Midland Naturalist. 98(2): 487-491. [6431]
  • 28. Monk, Carl D. 1966. An ecological study of hardwood swamps in north-central Florida. Ecology. 47: 649-654. [10802]
  • 29. Monk, Carl D. 1968. Successional and environmental relationships of the forest vegetation of north central Florida. American Midland Naturalist. 79(2): 441-457. [10847]
  • 30. Monk, Carl D.; Brown, Timothy W. 1965. Ecological consideration of cypress heads in north-central Florida. American Midland Naturalist. 74: 126-140. [10848]
  • 31. Nelson, Paul; Ladd, Douglas. 1983. Preliminary report on the identification, distribution and classification of Missouri glades. In: Kucera, Clair L., ed. Proceedings, 7th North American prairie conference; 1980 August 4-6; Springfield, MO. Columbia, MO: University of Missouri: 59-76. [3195]
  • 34. Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. 1183 p. [7606]
  • 36. Silker, T. H. 1971. Prescribed burning for southern pine management. In: National Meeting American Society of Agricultural Engineering; 1971 June 27 - June 30; Pullman, WA. [Place of publication unknown]
  • 37. Simpson, Benny J. 1988. A field guide to Texas trees. Austin, TX: Texas Monthly Press. 372 p. [11708]
  • 38. Stephens, H. A. 1973. Woody plants of the North Central Plains. Lawrence, KS: The University Press of Kansas. 530 p. [3804]
  • 39. Stewart, Aberdeen, W.; Hurst, George A. 1987. Vegetation in the longleaf-slash pine forest, Biloxi District, Desoto National Forest, Mississippi. In: Pearson, Henry A.; Smeins, Fred E.; Thill, Ronald E., compilers. Ecological, physical, and socioeconomic relationships within southern National Forests; 1987 May 26-27; Long Beach, MS. Gen. Tech. Rep. SO-68. New Orleans, LA: United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Experiment Station: 149-155. [10172]
  • 40. Stransky, John J.; Halls, Lowell K. 1979. Effect of a winter fire on fruit yields of woody plants. Journal of Wildlife Management. 43(4): 1007-1010. [9660]
  • 41. Streng, D. R.; Harcombe, P. A. 1982. Why don't east Texas savannas grow up to forest?. American Midland Naturalist. 108(2): 278-294. [10120]
  • 45. Vander Kloet, S. P. 1988. The genus Vaccinium in North America. Publication 1828. Ottawa: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 201 p. [11436]
  • 49. Ward, Daniel B. 1974. Contributions to the flora of Florida - 6, Vaccinium (Ericaceae). Castanea. 39(3): 191-205. [10868]
  • 50. Fralish, James S.; Jones, Steven M.; O'Dell, R. Kent; Chambers, Jim L. 1978. The effect of soil moisture on site productivity and forest composition in the Shawnee Hills of southern Illinois. In: Balmer, William E., ed. Proceedings: Soil moisture...site productivity symposium; 1977 November 1-3; Myrtle Beach, SC. Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Area, State and Private Forestry: 263-285. [4268]
  • 52. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p. [12764]

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Habitat: Cover Types

More info on this topic.

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

More info for the terms: hardwood, swamp

23 Eastern hemlock
40 Post oak - blackjack oak
51 White pine - chestnut oak
53 White oak
69 Sand pine
70 Longleaf pine
71 Longleaf pine - scrub oak
73 Southern redcedar
75 Shortleaf pine
76 Shortleaf pine - oak
78 Virginia pine - oak
79 Virginia pine
80 Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine
81 Loblolly pine
82 Loblolly pine - hardwood
83 Longleaf pine - slash pine
84 Slash pine
85 Slash pine - hardwood
89 Live oak
91 Swamp chestnut oak - cherrybark oak
92 Sweetgum - willow oak
93 Sugarberry - American elm - green ash
104 Sweetbay - swamp tupelo - redbay
111 South Florida slash pine

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Key Plant Community Associations

Tree sparkleberry is listed as an indicator in the following community
type classification. Blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica) and hickory
(Carya spp.) codominate these often infertile sites.

Area Classification Authority

e OK, n AR southern pine cts Silker 1971

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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):

FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine
FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine
FRES14 Oak - pine
FRES15 Oak - hickory

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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):

K074 Bluestem prairie
K082 Mosaic of K074 and K100
K084 Cross Timbers
K090 Live oak - sea oats
K091 Cypress savanna
K100 Oak - hickory forest
K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest
K112 Southern mixed forest
K113 Southern floodplain forest
K115 Sand pine scrub
K116 Subtropical pine forest

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Associations

Faunal Associations

The flowers are cross-pollinated primarily by various bees seeking nectar and pollen. Insects that feed on the foliage, wood, plant juices, and fruit of Farkleberry are probably similar to those that feed on blueberries; more specific information is unavailable. The berries are eaten by various mammals and birds; this includes the Black Bear, Eastern Chipmunk, Bobwhite Quail, and Robin. White-Tailed Deer occasionally browse on the twigs and foliage.
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Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Flower-Visiting Insects of Farkleberry in Illinois

Vaccinium arboreum (Farkleberry)
(beetle activity is unspecified; this observation is from MacRae; information is very limited)

Beetles
Buprestidae: Anthaxia flavimana (McR)

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General Ecology

Fire Management Considerations

More info for the terms: fuel, hardwood, prescribed fire, tree

Wildlife management: Prescribed fire can be an effective means of
managing tree sparkleberry thickets for wildlife habitat in some areas
[42]. Prescribed fire can promote livestock forage and deer browse [21]
and may have some potential for increasing fruit production [40]. Deer
utilization of tree sparkleberry before and after a prescribed fire in
Texas was as follows [21]:

unburned burned
1958 1959 1960 1958 1959 1960
(before fire) (after fire)
(percent utilization)

6 17 11 4 57 18

However, researchers caution that excessive burning for wildlife can
result in loss of overstory and midstory hardwoods [21].

Prescribed fire: Managers frequently spray herbicides on southern pine
forests and allow 2 years for the release of native bunchgrasses [36].
Bunchgrass development provides a uniform fuel for subsequent prescribed
fires. Backfires can then be used to kill "low quality" hardwoods such
as tree sparkleberry [36]. However, researchers note that blackjack
oak-hickory-tree sparkleberry associations commonly occur on poor sites
[36]. Limited growth potential on these sites may make prescribed
burning for hardwood control uneconomical [36].

Nutrient content: Nutrient content of tree sparkleberry browse may be
altered by burning. [See Food Value].
  • 21. Lay, Daniel W. 1967. Browse palatability and the effects of prescribed burning in southern pine forests. Journal of Forestry. 65(11): 826-828. [145]
  • 36. Silker, T. H. 1971. Prescribed burning for southern pine management. In: National Meeting American Society of Agricultural Engineering; 1971 June 27 - June 30; Pullman, WA. [Place of publication unknown]
  • 40. Stransky, John J.; Halls, Lowell K. 1979. Effect of a winter fire on fruit yields of woody plants. Journal of Wildlife Management. 43(4): 1007-1010. [9660]
  • 42. Thackston, Reginald E.; Hale, Philip E.; Johnson, A. Sydney; Harris, Michael J. 1982. Chemical composition of mountain-laurel Kalmia leaves from burned and unburned sites. Journal of Wildlife Management. 46(2): 492-496. [9076]

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: root crown, shrubs, tree

The fire response of tree sparkleberry has not been well documented.
Average height was reduced by a winter fire near Nacogdoches, Texas, but
the average number of stems per plant increased [40]. Response was as
follows [40]:

winter burn - March 1974 control
1973 1975 1973 1975

avg. ht. (cm) 243 214 288 317
avg. # stems/
plant 1.15 1.69 1.07 1.00

Many ericaceous shrubs sprout from the root crown or rhizomes after
aboveground vegetation is destroyed by fire. The postfire increase in
stems per plant suggests that sprouting may sometimes occur. However,
sprouting in tree sparkleberry has not been discussed in the available
literature.

Reestablishment presumably occurs through seedling establishment where
plants are killed by fire. Many birds and mammals transport seed from
adjacent unburned areas.
  • 40. Stransky, John J.; Halls, Lowell K. 1979. Effect of a winter fire on fruit yields of woody plants. Journal of Wildlife Management. 43(4): 1007-1010. [9660]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

More info for the term: tree

Tree sparkleberry can be girdled and killed by fire [36]. Following a
prescribed burn near Nacogdoches, Texas, mortality of important
understory species, including tree sparkleberry, ranged from 11 to 31
percent [40].
  • 36. Silker, T. H. 1971. Prescribed burning for southern pine management. In: National Meeting American Society of Agricultural Engineering; 1971 June 27 - June 30; Pullman, WA. [Place of publication unknown]
  • 40. Stransky, John J.; Halls, Lowell K. 1979. Effect of a winter fire on fruit yields of woody plants. Journal of Wildlife Management. 43(4): 1007-1010. [9660]

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Fire Ecology

More info for the terms: fire suppression, hardwood, tree

Tree sparkleberry occurs in many pine flatwood and sand pine scrub
communities that are essentially maintained by fire [27]. During recent
years, fire suppression has contributed to the decline of these
communities [1]. Many of these communities are now being replaced by
southern mixed hardwood forests, bayheads, and swamps [29]. However,
tree sparkleberry also occurs in these communities and often assumes
greater relative prominence in areas with longer fire-free intervals.
In longleaf pine-shortleaf pine communities, tree sparkleberry reaches
greatest abundance on less frequently burned sites [5].

Individuals on relatively nonflammable microsites, such as in moist
areas or on rocky sites lacking fuels, may be somewhat protected from
the effects of fire. Vegetative regeneration is not known to occur in
this species, but many Vacciniums are capable of sprouting after
aboveground foliage is damaged by fire. Tree sparkleberry presumably
reoccupies a site through bird- and mammal- dispersed seed.
  • 1. Abrahamson, Warren G. 1984. Post-fire recovery of Florida Lake Wales Ridge vegetation. American Journal of Botany. 71(1): 9-21. [9509]
  • 5. Bridges, Edwin L.; Orzell, Steve L. 1989. Longleaf pine communities of the west Gulf Coastal Plain. Natural Areas Journal. 9(4): 246-263. [10091]
  • 27. Monk, Carl D. 1965. Southern mixed hardwood forest of northcentral Florida. Ecological Monographs. 35: 335-354. [9263]
  • 29. Monk, Carl D. 1968. Successional and environmental relationships of the forest vegetation of north central Florida. American Midland Naturalist. 79(2): 441-457. [10847]

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: climax, hardwood, mesic, tree

Tree sparkleberry grows in many successional stages in pine-oak-hickory
and evergreen oak-hardwood forests of Florida [18]. It is an important
component of "subclimax" communities in loblolly pine-shortleaf pine
stands [4] and grows in successional cypress dome and flatwood
communities [29]. Tree sparkleberry invades mesic sites in longleaf
pine-turkey oak sandhill communities of Florida [47]. It also assumes
prominence in some "young" forest-grassland communities of eastern Texas
[37].

Tree sparkleberry grows in all successional phases of many pine-hardwood
communities [37]. It occurs as an understory dominant with deerberry,
flameleaf sumac, poison-ivy, southern bayberry, and American
beauty-berry (Callicarpa americana) on "less frequently burned" sites in
longleaf pine-shortleaf pine forests [5]. Where fires occur at frequent
intervals, bluejack oak, post oak, blackjack oak, sweetgum, flowering
dogwood, and loblolly pine are more common [5].

Tree sparkleberry is a component of seasonally flooded bayheads and
southern mixed hardwood swamps which are considered climax communities
[29]. It also grows in southern mixed hardwood forests which represent
the dominant climax upland vegetation over most of the southeastern
Coastal Plain [29]. Tree sparkleberry occurs in dry, old growth upland
stands with such species as bluejack oak, loblolly pine, longleaf pine,
sweetgum, and gum bumelia [24].
  • 4. Blair, Robert M.; Brunett, Louis E. 1976. Phytosociological changes after timber harvest in a southern pine ecosystem. Ecology. 57: 18-32. [9646]
  • 24. Matos, J. A.; Rudolph, D. C. 1985. The vegetation of the Roy E. Larsen Sandylands Sanctuary in the Big Thicket of Texas. Castanea. 50(4): 228-249. [10114]
  • 5. Bridges, Edwin L.; Orzell, Steve L. 1989. Longleaf pine communities of the west Gulf Coastal Plain. Natural Areas Journal. 9(4): 246-263. [10091]
  • 18. Kurz, Herman. 1944. Secondary forest succession in the Tallahassee Red Hills. Proceedings, Florida Academy of Science. 7(1): 59-100. [10799]
  • 29. Monk, Carl D. 1968. Successional and environmental relationships of the forest vegetation of north central Florida. American Midland Naturalist. 79(2): 441-457. [10847]
  • 37. Simpson, Benny J. 1988. A field guide to Texas trees. Austin, TX: Texas Monthly Press. 372 p. [11708]
  • 47. Veno, Patricia Ann. 1976. Successional relationships of five Florida plant communities. Ecology. 57: 498-508. [9659]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the term: shrubs

Tree sparkleberry normally fruits after attaining "the height of a large
shrub or tall tree" [15]. Fruit production is apparently somewhat
erratic. In some years fruit production is prolific, but in other
years, plants produce no fruit [40]. Stephens [38] reported that even
plants that flower in abundance commonly produce only sparse amounts of
fruit. Various birds and mammals serve as dispersal agents. Seedling
establishment presumably occurs when conditions are favorable.
Germination characteristics are unknown.

Although many ericaceous shrubs sprout after aboveground foliage is
damaged or destroyed, sprouting has apparently not been documented in
tree sparkleberry.
  • 15. Johnson, A. Sydney; Landers, J. Larry. 1978. Fruit production in slash pine plantations in Georgia. Journal of Wildlife Management. 42(3): 606-613. [9855]
  • 38. Stephens, H. A. 1973. Woody plants of the North Central Plains. Lawrence, KS: The University Press of Kansas. 530 p. [3804]
  • 40. Stransky, John J.; Halls, Lowell K. 1979. Effect of a winter fire on fruit yields of woody plants. Journal of Wildlife Management. 43(4): 1007-1010. [9660]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: phanerophyte

Phanerophyte

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Life Form

More info for the terms: shrub, tree

Shrub, Tree

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Post-fire Regeneration

off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: association

Tree sparkleberry flowers in late spring or summer. Some plants flower
much earlier than others at the same geographic location [52]. Fruit
ripens over a relatively long period [38], with ovules maturing in
approximately 200 days [45]. Fruit commonly persists into the winter
months [48]. Flowering and fruiting by geographic location is as
follows:

Location Flowering Fruiting Authority

SC, NC late April-June Sept.-Oct. Radford and other 1968
FL March-April Aug.-Oct. Ward 1974
(infreq. in Feb., July)
Great Plains May-June Aug.-Sept. Great Plains Flora
Association 1986
c Great Plains late May Sept.-Oct. Stephens 1973
VA April-May June-Nov. Uttal 1987
se U.S. March-July ---- Duncan and Duncan 1988
  • 48. Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p. [7707]
  • 38. Stephens, H. A. 1973. Woody plants of the North Central Plains. Lawrence, KS: The University Press of Kansas. 530 p. [3804]
  • 45. Vander Kloet, S. P. 1988. The genus Vaccinium in North America. Publication 1828. Ottawa: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 201 p. [11436]
  • 52. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p. [12764]

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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Management

Management considerations

More info for the terms: cover, fire management, tree

Fruit production: Fruit production is highly variable in tree
sparkleberry. Yields are generally greater in older burned stands than
in young open stands [15]. Plants in pine plantations may not bear
fruit [15]. [See Fire Management Considerations].

Grazing: Tree sparkleberry apparently decreases in response to heavy
livestock grazing. Cover by grazing intensity was as follows in an
eastern Louisiana study [8]:

light medium heavy
grazed ungrazed grazed ungrazed grazed ungrazed
control control control

.15 .32 .13 .14 .01 .00

Chemical control: Tree sparkleberry is resistant to aerially applied
herbicides [36]. Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) exhibit variable
susceptibility to herbicides such as 2,4-D, 2,4,5-T, glyphosate,
karbutilate, and picloram [51].

Drought resistance: Although reportedly resistant to drought [2],
plants occasionally succumb during extreme dry periods [45].
  • 2. Ballinger, W. E.; Maness, E. P.; Ballington, J. R. 1982. Anthocyanins in ripe fruit of the sparkleberry, Vaccinium arboreum Marsh. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 62(3): 683-687. [9189]
  • 8. Clary, Warren P. 1979. Grazing and overstory effects on rotationally burned slash pine plantation ranges. Journal of Range Management. 32(4): 264-266. [9657]
  • 15. Johnson, A. Sydney; Landers, J. Larry. 1978. Fruit production in slash pine plantations in Georgia. Journal of Wildlife Management. 42(3): 606-613. [9855]
  • 36. Silker, T. H. 1971. Prescribed burning for southern pine management. In: National Meeting American Society of Agricultural Engineering; 1971 June 27 - June 30; Pullman, WA. [Place of publication unknown]
  • 45. Vander Kloet, S. P. 1988. The genus Vaccinium in North America. Publication 1828. Ottawa: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 201 p. [11436]
  • 51. 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]

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full or partial sun, dry conditions, and an acidic soil that is rocky or sandy. Farkleberry may not be winter-hardy in areas north of its native range. Flowers are usually abundant, but production of fruit is highly variable from year-to-year. Because of its attractive leaves, flowers, and fruit, Farkleberry would be an attractive landscape plant, but it transplants with difficulty.
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© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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Other uses and values

More info for the term: rootstock

Tree sparkleberry bark was formerly used in tanning leathers [48].
Extracts obtained from roots were traditionally used to treat diarrhea
[48]. Unlike the fruit of most Vacciniums, the berries of tree
sparkleberry are inedible to humans [44].

Tree sparkleberry flowers abundantly and is "very ornamental" [44].
Flowers are a good source of nectar for foraging honey bees [44]. Tree
sparkleberry may have potential value for developing commercial
fruit-producing strains of blueberries [2]. Highbush blueberry
(Vaccinium corymbosum) can be grafted onto the rootstock of tree
sparkleberry. The resulting cultivars are well suited to droughty
upland sites with soils with a relatively high pH [2].
  • 48. Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p. [7707]
  • 2. Ballinger, W. E.; Maness, E. P.; Ballington, J. R. 1982. Anthocyanins in ripe fruit of the sparkleberry, Vaccinium arboreum Marsh. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 62(3): 683-687. [9189]
  • 44. Uttal, Leonard J. 1987. The Genus Vaccinium L. (Ericaceae) in Virginia. Castanea. 52(4): 231-255. [6240]

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Cover Value

More info for the term: tree

Stephens [38] reported that most birds rarely nest in tree sparkleberry
and typically seek out denser vegetation. However, Thackston and others
[42] noted that shrubby thickets of tree sparkleberry form favored
activity centers for transplanted ruffed grouse in northern Georgia.
  • 38. Stephens, H. A. 1973. Woody plants of the North Central Plains. Lawrence, KS: The University Press of Kansas. 530 p. [3804]
  • 42. Thackston, Reginald E.; Hale, Philip E.; Johnson, A. Sydney; Harris, Michael J. 1982. Chemical composition of mountain-laurel Kalmia leaves from burned and unburned sites. Journal of Wildlife Management. 46(2): 492-496. [9076]

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Nutritional Value

More info for the term: tree

Nutrient content of tree sparkleberry browse varies by season and burn
history of a particular site [20]. Food values are as follows [20]:

Date burn nutrient content (%) at 15% moisture level
sampled history %air dry protein fat fiber N-free ash phos- Ca
(#burns weight extract phoric
reported) acid

spring none 26.4 9.75 3.93 25.46 40.47 5.39 0.23 0.39
spring 1 22.9 13.25 7.85 13.78 47.37 2.75 0.37 0.32
summer none 37.8 6.65 4.45 22.46 48.19 3.24 0.15 0.87
summer 1 32.0 7.50 4.13 17.01 53.52 2.84 0.18 0.52
summer 2 34.6 7.17 -- -- -- -- 0.17 -
summer 3 22.9 11.13 -- -- -- -- 0.32 -
fall none 41.0 6.64 4.66 21.27 48.43 4.00 0.12 1.11
fall 1 45.5 6.29 4.80 20.73 49.75 3.42 0.14 0.79
winter none 48.2 5.31 4.51 26.15 45.60 3.44 0.14 1.01
winter 1 42.9 6.63 4.07 22.19 47.94 4.16 0.20 0.91
winter 2 49.3 5.51 4.07 23.85 48.38 3.18 0.14 0.78
winter 3 44.2 6.35 2.96 21.88 50.44 3.38 0.15 0.61
  • 20. Hodgkins, Earl J. 1958. Effects of fire on undergrowth vegetation in upland southern pine forests. Ecology. 39(1): 36-46. [7632]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

More info for the term: tree

Browse: White-tailed deer browse tree sparkleberry in many areas
[15,21]. It is considered an important summer deer food in parts of
Georgia [15]. Many species of hares and rabbits also feed on the leaves
and twigs of species within this genus [45].

Fruit and flowers: A wide variety of birds and mammals readily feed on
the fruit of tree sparkleberry [38,48]. Fruits and flowers provide
spring and summer food for the bobwhite quail [15]. Black bear,
chipmunks, and many species of birds, including the American robin,
ruffed grouse, and tanagers, feed on the fruit of Vacciniums [45].
Flowers are attractive to various bees [44].
  • 48. Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p. [7707]
  • 15. Johnson, A. Sydney; Landers, J. Larry. 1978. Fruit production in slash pine plantations in Georgia. Journal of Wildlife Management. 42(3): 606-613. [9855]
  • 21. Lay, Daniel W. 1967. Browse palatability and the effects of prescribed burning in southern pine forests. Journal of Forestry. 65(11): 826-828. [145]
  • 38. Stephens, H. A. 1973. Woody plants of the North Central Plains. Lawrence, KS: The University Press of Kansas. 530 p. [3804]
  • 44. Uttal, Leonard J. 1987. The Genus Vaccinium L. (Ericaceae) in Virginia. Castanea. 52(4): 231-255. [6240]
  • 45. 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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Wood Products Value

More info for the term: tree

The wood of tree sparkleberry is brown to reddish-brown, fine-grained,
tough and hard [38,48,52]. Wood weighs an average of 48 pounds per
cubic foot (112 kg/cu m) [48]. It was formerly used to make various
tool handles and craft items [48,52].
  • 48. Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p. [7707]
  • 38. Stephens, H. A. 1973. Woody plants of the North Central Plains. Lawrence, KS: The University Press of Kansas. 530 p. [3804]
  • 52. Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1988. Trees of the southeastern United States. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 322 p. [12764]

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Palatability

Tree sparkleberry browse is reportedly of "low to medium" palatability
to white-tailed deer [21]. Berries are palatable to many species of
birds and mammals.
  • 21. Lay, Daniel W. 1967. Browse palatability and the effects of prescribed burning in southern pine forests. Journal of Forestry. 65(11): 826-828. [145]

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Wikipedia

Vaccinium arboreum

Vaccinium arboreum (Sparkleberry or Farkleberry) is a species of Vaccinium native to the southeastern United States, from southern Virginia west to southeastern Nebraska, south to Florida and eastern Texas, and north to Illinois.[1]

Description[edit]

Vaccinium arboreum [ar-bor-E-um] is a shrub (rarely a small tree) growing to 3–5 m (rarely 9 m) tall. The leaves are evergreen in the south of the range, but deciduous further north where winters are colder; they are oval-elliptic with an acute apex, 3–7 cm long and 2–4 cm broad, with a smooth or very finely toothed margin. Sparkleberry grows on sand dunes, hammocks, dry hillsides, meadows, and in rocky woods. It also grows on a variety of moist sites such as wet bottomlands and along creek banks.

The flowers are white, bell-shaped, and 3–4 mm in diameter with a five-lobed corolla, produced in racemes up to 5 cm long. The fruit is a round dry berry about 6 mm in diameter, green at first, black when ripe, edible but bitter and tough.

Natural range: Vaccinium arboreum

References[edit]

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Common Names

More info for the term: tree

tree sparkleberry
sparkleberry
sparkle-berry
tree huckleberry
huckleberry
winter huckleberry
farkleberry
Missouri farkleberry
whortleberry
gooseberry

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More info for the term: tree

The currently accepted scientific name of tree sparkleberry is Vaccinium
arboreum Marshall [34]. Kartesz and Kartesz [16] recognize the
following varieties:

Vaccinium arboreum var. arboreum
Vaccinium arboreum var. glaucescens (Greene) Sarg.

Still, many authorities do not delineate varieties of tree sparkleberry.

Tree sparkleberry is the sole North American representative of the
section Batodendron (Nutt.) A. Gray. L. T. within the family Ericaceae
[45,46].
  • 34. Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press. 1183 p. [7606]
  • 45. Vander Kloet, S. P. 1988. The genus Vaccinium in North America. Publication 1828. Ottawa: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 201 p. [11436]
  • 16. 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]
  • 46. Vander Kloet, S. P. 1989. Typification of some North American Vaccinium species names. Taxon. 38: 129-134. [8918]

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Synonyms

Vaccinium diffusum
Batodendron arboreum
Batodendron andrachniforme
Batodendron glaucescens

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