Overview

Comprehensive Description

Comments

 Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) is one of the primary sources of commercial blueberries, particularly in the New England region of the United States. The flavor of the berries is sweet and mild. Because this shrub is somewhat variable across its range, different varieties have been described, although none of these are currently recognized in Illinois. Compared to the Hillside Blueberry (Vaccinium pallidum), Lowbush Blueberry has more narrow leaves and its leaf undersides are less pale. It differs from another species, Canada Blueberry (Vaccinium myrtilloides), by having leaf undersides that are glabrous, rather than pubescent. These species usually occupy drier habitats than the taller Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum); the latter is typically found in forested bogs and similar wet habitats.
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Description

This small deciduous shrub is ½-2' tall with spreading leafy branches. The trunk and branches of older shrubs are often woody with shredded bark, while young shoots and twigs are green to brownish red, terete, and finely warty. Sometimes the twigs and shoots are slightly short-pubescent. Alternate leaves along the twigs and shoots are ¾-1½" long and about ¼-¾" across; they are elliptic in shape and very finely serrated along their margins. Both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaves are medium to dark green and glabrous (or nearly so).  The short petioles are up to 1/8" (3 mm.) in length. Small clusters of nodding flowers develop from the preceding year's twigs. Each flower is about ¼" long and a little less across, consisting of a short green calyx with 5 teeth, a short-tubular corolla that is white or pinkish white, 10 inserted stamens, and an inferior ovary with a single style. The corolla is slightly indented along its upper rim, where 5 tiny lobes occur that are recurved. The peduncle and pedicels of the clustered flowers are light green to reddish brown and glabrous. The blooming period occurs from late spring to early summer for about 3 weeks. Afterwards, fertile flowers are replaced by globoid berries up to 1/3" (8 mm.) across that become dark blue with a whitish bloom at maturity. At this time, the fleshy interior of each berry is juicy and sweet and it typically contains 10-15 tiny seeds. The root system is usually shallow and spreading, although a taproot may develop on an older shrub. Vegetative colonies are produced from underground runners. The deciduous leaves often become red or burgundy during the the autumn.
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Distribution

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Lowbush Blueberry is occasional in NE Illinois (see Distribution Map). Habitats include sand prairies, shrub prairies, sandy savannas, sandy woodlands, rocky upland woodlands, rocky bluffs, sand dunes along Lake Michigan, and bogs. Lowbush Blueberry is sometimes the dominant understory shrub in some of these habitats, especially when they are sandy. This shrub becomes more abundant in response to occasional wildfires and the openings that such wildfires create.
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

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Occurrence in North America

     CT  DE  IA  IL  IN  ME  MA  MI  MN  NH
     NJ  NY  NC  OH  PA  RI  TN  VT  VA  WV
     WI  LB  MB  NB  NF  NS  ON  PE  PQ  SK

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Low sweet blueberry grows from Labrador and Newfoundland westward to
southern Manitoba and Minnesota [160].  It extends southward to northern
Illinois in the West, and from New England through the Appalachians to
West Virginia and Virginia in the East [70,119,157].
  • 70.  Hall, I. V.; Aalders, L. E.; Barker, W. G. 1964. A preliminary        investigation of factors limiting lowbush blueberry production on Cape        Breton Island. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 44: 491-492.  [9121]
  • 119.  Pritts, Marvin P.; Hancock, James F. 1984. Independence of life history        parameters in populations of Vaccinium angustifolium (Ericaceae).        Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 3(4): 451-461.  [9165]
  • 157.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1988. The genus Vaccinium in North America.        Publication 1828. Ottawa: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 201 p.        [11436]
  • 160.  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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USA: CT , DE , IL , IN , IA , ME , MD , MA , MI , MN , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , TN , VT , VA , WV , WI (NPIN, 2007)

Canada: MB , NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC , SK (NPIN, 2007)

Native Distribution: Lab. to Sask., s. to New England, DE, WV, OH, n. IL & IA (NPIN, 2007)

USDA Native Status: L48(N), CAN(N), SPM(N) (NPIN, 2007)

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the term: shrub

Low sweet blueberry is an erect, low-growing, variable shrub that
reaches 2 to 24 inches (5-60 cm) in height [17,34,141,157].  It
typically forms dense, extensive colonies [157].  Roots are shallow and
fibrous but may possess a taproot, which can extend to 3 feet (1 m) in
depth [17,66,72].  Woody rhizomes average 0.18 inch (4.5 mm) in diameter
and 2.4 inches (6 cm) in depth [56].

Flowers are borne in short, few-flowered terminals or axillary racemes
[94,111,157].  Fruit is a globular berry averaging 0.12 to 0.4 inch
(4-11 mm) in diameter [94,150]; some cultivars produce fruit up to 1
inch (2.5 cm) in diameter [7].  The berries are very sweet [150].  Each
contains numerous nutlets averaging approximately 0.04 inch (1.2 mm) in
length [157].
  • 7.  Adams, Sean. 1987. Blueberries from field to muffin tin. Agricultural        Research. June/July: 10-13.  [9849]
  • 17.  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]
  • 34.  Camp, W. H. 1945. The North American blueberries with notes on other        groups of Vacciniaceae. Brittonia. 5(3): 203-275.  [9515]
  • 56.  Flinn, Marguerite A.; Pringle, Joan K. 1983. Heat tolerance of rhizomes        of several understory species. Canadian Journal of Botany. 61: 452-457.        [8444]
  • 66.  Hall, I. V. 1957. The tap root in lowbush blueberry. Canadian Journal of        Botany. 35(6): 933-934.  [8942]
  • 72.  Hall, Ivan V.; Aalders, Lewis E.; Nickerson, Nancy L.; Vander Kloet, Sam        P. 1979. The biological flora of Canada. I. Vaccinium angustifolium        Ait., sweet lowbush blueberry. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 93(4):        415-430.  [9185]
  • 94.  Keeler, Harriet L. 1969. Vacciniaceae--huckleberry family. In: Our        northern shrubs and how to identify them. New York: Dover Publications,        Inc.: 315-342.  [9272]
  • 111.  Mohr, H. A.; Kevan, P. G. 1987. Pollinators and pollination requirements        of lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait. and V. myrtilloides        Michx.) and cranberry .... Proceedings of the Entomological Society of        Ontario. 118(0): 149-154.  [10806]
  • 141.  Soper, James H.; Heimburger, Margaret L. 1982. Shrubs of Ontario. Life        Sciences Misc. Publ. Toronto, ON: Royal Ontario Museum. 495 p.  [12907]
  • 150.  Uttal, Leonard J. 1987. The Genus Vaccinium L. (Ericaceae) in Virginia.        Castanea. 52(4): 231-255.  [6240]
  • 157.  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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Overall this is a low shrub. (Hultman, 1978) The plant is an erect shrub. (Peattie, 1930) It is a low, straggling shrub form. (NPIN, 2007) Roots are shallow and fibrous but may possess a taproot. (USDA FEIS, 1991)

Flowers are white and bell-like. (Hultman, 1978) Flowers have 10 stamens. Racemes (common pedicels) are short, about 5-flowered. The corolla is green, or greenish bordered with red and cylindric-urn-shaped. (Peattie, 1930) Small, white, pink-tinged, bell-shaped flowers. (NPIN, 2007) Flowers are white, 5-parted, and urn-shaped. The lobes are shorter than the tube. (UW, 2009)

Fruit Dark blue berries are covered with a white powder, have many seeds, and are edible. (Hultman, 1978) The fruit are oblate-spheroid a bloom. They are sweet and edible. (Peattie, 1930) Fruit are blue, shiny berries with many seeds. (UW, 2009)

Leaves are egg-shaped and may have a few bristle-tipped teeth. They become leathery with age. (Hultman, 1978) Leaf margins are entire. Leaves are oblong-lanceolate to lanceolate, spatulate or elliptic, acute, and narrowed at base. The margin is sharply serrulate, sparingly pubescent on both surfaces at first, finally smooth or nearly smooth. (Peattie, 1930) Glossy foliage turns from red-green in spring to dark blue-green in summer to maroon-purple in fall. (NPIN, 2007) Leaves are deciduous, smooth, and narrowly elliptical with tiny, sharp teeth. (UW, 2009)

Stems branches and branchlets are wrinkled, yellowish green, and pubescent at least in lines. (Peattie, 1930) Multiple stems have twiggy branches. (NPIN, 2007)

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Size

Plant is up to 3' tall. (Hultman, 1978) Plant is less than a meter tall, being 25-50 cm tall. (Peattie, 1930) The plant is usually 6" to 2' tall and wide. (NPIN, 2007) Plants can be 2"-14" tall. (UW, 2009)

Flowers are 3/8" long. (UW, 2009)

Fruit 9-15 mm thick. (Peattie, 1930)

Leaves 1.5-2". (Hultman, 1978)

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Ecology

Habitat

Range and Habitat in Illinois

The native Lowbush Blueberry is occasional in NE Illinois (see Distribution Map). Habitats include sand prairies, shrub prairies, sandy savannas, sandy woodlands, rocky upland woodlands, rocky bluffs, sand dunes along Lake Michigan, and bogs. Lowbush Blueberry is sometimes the dominant understory shrub in some of these habitats, especially when they are sandy. This shrub becomes more abundant in response to occasional wildfires and the openings that such wildfires create.
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Habitat characteristics

More info for the term: hardwood

Low sweet blueberry grows in a wide variety of habitats [105].  It
occurs in mixed conifer and hardwood forests, in headlands, high moors,
upland bogs, peaty barrens, along sandy riverbanks, and on exposed rocky
outcrops of the Canadian Shield [49,56,105,157].  Low sweet blueberry is
a prominent component of jack pine (Pinus banksiana) barrens, maple
groves, oak savannas, and poplar regeneration forests [105,145,157].  It
is common in abandoned pastures and clearcuts, and along roadsides
[141,157].

Climate:  Low sweet blueberry is tolerant of a wide range of
temperatures [154].  It grows in areas having a dry, sunny, continental
climatic regime receiving an average of 20 inches (500 mm) of
precipitation annually, as well as in areas having cloudy maritime
climates receiving 61 to 79 inches (1,560-1,950 mm) of precipitation
annually [83].

Shade:  Shade is detrimental to the growth of low sweet blueberry in the
Atlantic Provinces but is necessary for optimal growth in Manitoba's
dry, sunny continental climate [83].

Soils:  Low sweet blueberry is most commonly associated with light,
well-drained acidic soils [124].  Soils generally have a high organic
content but may be relatively low in available mineral nutrients
[29,77].  Soils are often shallow and discontinuous [152].  Low sweet
blueberry grows on loam, sandy loam, gravelly loam, and silt or clay
loam developed from sandstone, shale, or glacial drift [49,78,124].
Parent materials vary but include granite, quartzite, gneiss, shale, and
sandstone pavement [152].  In much of eastern Ontario, soils have formed
over Precambrian bedrock [137].  Low sweet blueberry grows on acidic
soils with pH ranging from 2.8 to 6.6 [157] but reportedly thrives on
soils with a pH of 4.2 to 5.2 [70,97,157].  Plants generally grow better
on undisturbed rather then tilled soil [96].  Low sweet blueberry occurs
at elevations from sea level to 4,950 feet (1,500 m) [72,150].
  • 29.  Bourgeron, P. S.; Kratz, A. M.; Weaver, T.; Weidman, N. 1988.        Bibliography of Montana vegetation description. Great Basin Naturalist.        48(3): 301-401.  [6121]
  • 49.  Eaton, Leonard J.; Patriquin, David G. 1988. Inorganic nitrogen levels        and nitrification potential in lowbush blueberry soil. Canadian Journal        of Soil Science. 68(1): 63-75.  [9168]
  • 56.  Flinn, Marguerite A.; Pringle, Joan K. 1983. Heat tolerance of rhizomes        of several understory species. Canadian Journal of Botany. 61: 452-457.        [8444]
  • 70.  Hall, I. V.; Aalders, L. E.; Barker, W. G. 1964. A preliminary        investigation of factors limiting lowbush blueberry production on Cape        Breton Island. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 44: 491-492.  [9121]
  • 72.  Hall, Ivan V.; Aalders, Lewis E.; Nickerson, Nancy L.; Vander Kloet, Sam        P. 1979. The biological flora of Canada. I. Vaccinium angustifolium        Ait., sweet lowbush blueberry. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 93(4):        415-430.  [9185]
  • 77.  Hancock, James F.; Draper, Arlen D. 1989. Blueberry culture in North        America. HortScience. 24(4): 551-556.  [9513]
  • 78.  Hanson, Eric J.; Ismail, Amr. A.; Struchtemeyer, Roland A. 1982. Effect        of method and date of pruning on soil organic matter and leaf nutrient        concentrations of lowbush blueberries. Canadian Journal of Plant        Science. 62: 813-817.  [9159]
  • 83.  Hoefs, M. E. G.; Shay, Jennifer M. 1981. The effects of shade on shoot        growth of Vaccinium angustifolium Ait. after fire pruning in        southeastern Manitoba. Canadian Journal of Botany. 59: 166-174.  [4977]
  • 96.  Kender, Walter J.; Eggert, Franklin P. 1966. Several soil management        practices influencing the growth and rhizome development of the lowbush        blueberry. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 46(2): 141-149.  [9015]
  • 97.  Korcak, Ronald F. 1988. Nutrition of blueberry and other calcifuges.        Horticultural Reviews. 10: 183-227.  [9612]
  • 105.  Maillette, Lucie. 1988. Apparent commensalism among three Vaccinium        species on a climatic gradient. Journal of Ecology. 76: 877-888.  [9171]
  • 124.  Rogers, Robert. 1974. Blueberries. In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M.,        compilers. Shrubs and vines for northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep.        NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,        Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 12-15.  [14073]
  • 137.  Smith, D. W. 1969. A taximetric study of Vaccinium in northeastern        Ontario. Canadian Journal of Botany. 47: 1747-1759.  [9193]
  • 141.  Soper, James H.; Heimburger, Margaret L. 1982. Shrubs of Ontario. Life        Sciences Misc. Publ. Toronto, ON: Royal Ontario Museum. 495 p.  [12907]
  • 145.  Tester, John R. 1989. Effects of fire frequency on oak savanna in        east-central Minnesota. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 116(2):        134-144.  [9281]
  • 150.  Uttal, Leonard J. 1987. The Genus Vaccinium L. (Ericaceae) in Virginia.        Castanea. 52(4): 231-255.  [6240]
  • 152.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1976. Nomenclature, taxonomy, and biosystematics of        Vaccinium section Cyanococcus in North America I.Natural barriers to        gene exchange. Rhodora. 78(815): 503-515.  [9184]
  • 154.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1978. Systematics, distribution, and nomenclature of        the polymorphic Vaccinium angustifolium. Rhodora. 80: 358-376.  [9115]
  • 157.  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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Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the term: codominant

Low sweet blueberry occurs as an understory dominant or codominant in a
variety of forest communities.  Common overstory dominants include
eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), jack pine (P. banksiana), sugar
maple (Acer saccharum), red maple (A. rubrum), and northern red oak
(Quercus rubra).  Common codominants include Canada beadruby
(Maianthemum canadense), pointed-leaved tick trefoil (Desmodium
glutinosum), mapleleaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium), and hairgrass
(Deschampsia spp.).  Low sweet blueberry is listed as an indicator or
dominant species in the following habitat type classifications:

Field guide: Habitat classification system for Upper Peninsula of
  Michigan and Northeast Wisconsin [43]
Field guide to forest habitat types of northern Wisconsin [98].
  • 43.  Coffman, Michael S.; Alyanak, Edward; Resovsky, Richard. 1980. Field        guide habitat classification system: For Upper Peninsula of Michigan and        northeast Wisconsin. [Place of publication unknown]
  • 98.  Kotar, John; Kovach, Joseph A.; Locey, Craig T. 1988. Field guide to        forest habitat types of northern Wisconsin. Madison, WI: University of        Wisconsin, Department of Forestry; Wisconsin Department of Natural        Resources. 217 p.  [11510]

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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):

     1  Jack pine
     5  Balsam fir
    12  Black spruce
    13  Black spruce - tamarack
    14  Northern pin oak
    15  Red pine
    16  Aspen
    18  Paper birch
    20  White pine - northern red oak - red maple
    21  Eastern white pine
    24  Hemlock - yellow birch
    25  Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch
    27  Sugar maple
    30  Red spruce - yellow birch
    32  Red spruce
    33  Red spruce - balsam fir
    34  Red spruce - Fraser fir
    35  Paper birch - red spruce - balsam fir
    37  Northern white-cedar
    39  Black ash - American elm - red maple
    43  Bear oak
    44  Chestnut oak
    51  White pine - chestnut oak
    52  White pine - black oak - northern red oak
    53  White oak
    55  Northern red oak
    60  Beech - sugar maple
   107  White spruce
   108  Red maple
   110  Black oak

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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):

   K081  Oak savanna
   K094  Conifer bog
   K095  Great Lakes pine forest
   K096  Northeastern spruce - fir forest
   K100  Oak - hickory forest
   K106  Northern hardwoods
   K107  Northern hardwoods - fir forest
   K108  Northern hardwoods - spruce forest
   K109  Transition between K104 and K106
   K110  Northeastern oak - pine forest
   K111  Oak - hickory - pine forest

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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):

   FRES10  White - red - jack pine
   FRES11  Spruce - fir
   FRES14  Oak - pine
   FRES15  Oak - hickory
   FRES17  Elm - ash - cottonwood
   FRES18  Maple - beech - birch
   FRES19  Aspen - birch

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Thickets and dry woods, particularly with acid soils. (Hultman, 1978) Native habitat consitutes open, conifer woods, sandy or rocky balds, and old fields. (NPIN, 2007) Habitat can be moist to dry. This can include woods, forests, bogs, and clearings. It can grow in rocky or sandy soil. (UW, 2009)
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Dispersal

Plants often form large colonies. (UW, 2009)
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Associations

Faunal Associations

The flowers are cross-pollinated primarily by various bees, including Andrenid bees (Andrena spp.), bumblebees, and honeybees. Both nectar and pollen are available as floral rewards. The pollen is released from the anthers in response to the "buzz pollination" of the bees (high frequency vibration of the thoracic muscles). In addition to these floral visitors, many insects feed on the foliage, stems, and other parts of blueberry shrubs. For example, the larvae of two beetles, Oberea myops (Rhododendron Stem Borer) and Oberea tripunctata (Dogwood Twig Borer), bore through the twigs of these shrubs, while the larvae of two flies, Dasineura cyanococci and Dasineura oxycoccum (Blueberry Gall Midge), form galls on the buds or developing flowers. Other insect feeders include the leaf beetles Altica sylvia and Tricholochmea vaccinii, the larvae of Rhagoletis mendax (Blueberry Fruit Fly), Clastoptera saintcyri (Heath Spittlebug), Limotettix vaccinii (Blunt-Nosed Leafhopper), and Mesolecanium nigrofasciatum (Terrapin Scale). The caterpillars of two butterflies, Callophrys augustinus (Brown Elfin) and Callophrys henrici (Henry's Elfin), feed on the flowers and developing fruits of blueberry shrubs. In addition to these insects, the caterpillars of such moths as Hemaris gracilis (Slender Clearwing), Sympistis dentata (Blueberry Cinder), and Xestia dilucida (Reddish Heath Dart) also feed on these shrubs (see the Moth Table for a more complete listing of these species). Blueberries fruits are an important source of food to many vertebrate animals. These species include the terrestrial turtles, Clemmys insculpta (Wood Turtle) and Terrapene carolina (Eastern Box Turtle); such birds as the Ruffed Grouse, Wild Turkey, Blue Jay, American Robin, Yellow-Breasted Chat, Wood Thrush, and Eastern Bluebird (see the Bird Table for a more complete listing of species); and such mammals as the Black Bear, Red Fox, Raccoon, Striped Skunk, Opossum, Red Squirrel, Eastern Chipmunk, Jumping Mouse, Deer Mouse, and White-Footed Mouse. In addition to the fruits, the White-Tailed Deer and Cottontail Rabbit also browse on the foliage and twigs. Because Lowbush Blueberry is a densely branched shrub that often forms large colonies, it provides significant protective cover for ground-nesting birds and other wildlife.
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Flower-Visiting Insects of Low-Bush Blueberry in Illinois

Vaccinium angustifolium (Low-Bush Blueberry)
(information is restricted to Andrenid bees; insect activity is unspecified; observations are from Krombein et al.)

Bees (short-tongued)
Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena ceanothi, Andrena sigmundi

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The berries are relished by wildlife and humans alike, particularly birds. (NPIN, 2007) Cross-pollination by insects is necessary for good fruit set. (USDA FEIS, 1991)

The black bear, moose, eastern cottontail, and white-tailed deer feed on the foliage. Domestic sheep commonly avoid low sweet blueberry browse. Flowers and fruit are readily eaten by a wide variety of birds and mammals. Mammal species include black bear, red fox, raccoon, red-backed vole, white-footed mouse, fox squirrel, red squirrel, eastern spotted skunk, gray fox, and many species of chipmunks and mice. Birds include ptarmigan, American robin, common crow, wild turkey, ruffed grouse, spruce grouse, gray catbird, brown thrasher, rufous-sided towhee, northern mockingbird, black-capped chickadee, red-cockaded woodpecker, starling, cardinal, scarlet tanager, Canada goose, herring gull, whimbrel, quail, and thrushes, and eastern bluebird. (USDA FEIS, 1991)

The reproductive success of black bears has been particularly correlated to annual blueberry crops. Poor blueberry crops can limit black bear reproductive success as well as overall survival in some regions. Bear depredations such as damage to crops and beehives and livestock losses typically increase during poor berry years. (USDA FEIS, 1991)

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General Ecology

Site Description

Paired plots, burned and unburned, were located at four of the location.
The fifth site (Palisade) had only the unburned plot.  All plots were on
level ground in full sun.  Soils were as follows:

           P         IT           IS           EN           ES
                  a      b      a     b      a      b      a     b
pH        4.5    5.3    5.3    5.3   5.4    5.0    5.4    5.0   4.1
organic
 matter   high   low    low    low    med.  low    low    low   med.
nitrogen  low    low    low    low    low   low    low    low   low
texture   loam  loamy  sandy  loamy  loamy  loamy  sand  loamy  sand
                 sand   loam   sand   sand   sand         sand 

a unburned plot   P  Palisade site     IS Isabella Sawbill site
b burn plot       ES  Ely South site   IT Isabella Tracks site
                  EN  Ely North site

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Fire Management Considerations

More info for the terms: fuel, fuel loading, hardwood, lichen, lichens, mesic, prescribed fire

Prescribed fire:  Prescribed fire can be used to improve fruit yields
[77,132].  In order to remove decadent aboveground foliage without
damaging rhizomes, hot fires should be avoided [124]. 

Fuels and flammability:  Fuel loads are low and discontinuous in xeric
jack pine-red pine forests dominated by low sweet blueberry, common
juniper (Juniperus communis), lichens, and mosses [24].  Fires in these
communities tend to be of irregular intensity.  The probability of crown
fires increases in later successional stages in more mesic stands [24].
In northeastern New York, Stergas and Adams [145] reported that
"fire-line intensities greater than 1500 kW/m can easily develop into
crown fires."  Low rates of spread may be necessary to keep a prescribed
fire under control given the potential fuel loading and heat content of
the aboveground understory vegetation, which is dominated by low sweet
blueberry, black huckleberry, and lichen [143].  Ash content of low
sweet blueberry ranges from 4.20 to 4.54 percent, high heat content from
20,134 to 20,298 KgJ/kg, and ash-free high heat content from 21,040 to
21,084 kJ/kg [143]:

Wildlife considerations:  In central Wisconsin, prescribed fires are
recommended at 4-year intervals where management aims include limiting
shrub growth and providing habitat for white-tailed deer, sharp-tailed
grouse, and prairie chickens [27].  Fire can be used to aid the
restoration of sand barren vegetation [27].  Vogl [163] reported that
burning at 10-year intervals would allow low sweet blueberry to reach
maximum fruit yields and allow time for maximum fuel accumulations to
reduce competing oaks, aspen, and birch.  Prescribed fire can be used to
increase grouse numbers in Pennsylvania hardwood forests with a low
sweet blueberry understory [131].

Disease:  Regular burn pruning can limit the spread of red leaf disease
[113] and blueberry leaf spot [12].  However, some diseases such as
powdery mildew and rust (Pucciniastrum myrtilli) tend to increase with
the proliferation of the host plant [12].

Nutrients:  Nutrient content of low sweet blueberry foliage is altered
by burning [29,78,116].  Leaf tissue from burned plants is typically
higher in nitrogen and phosphorus [78].  Comparative values are
available [29,116].
  • 12.  Ahlgren, I. F.; Ahlgren, C. E. 1960. Ecological effects of forest fires.        Botanical Review. 26: 458-533.  [205]
  • 24.  Bergeron, Yves; Brisson, Jacques. 1990. Fire regime in red pine stands        at the northern limit of the species range. Ecology. 71(4): 1352-1364.        [11819]
  • 27.  Blewett, Thomas. 1978. Prairie and savanna restoration in the Necedah        National Wildlife Refuge. In: Glenn-Lewin, David C.; Landers, Roger Q.,        Jr., eds. Proceedings, 5th Midwest prairie conference; 1976 August        22-24; Ames, IA. Ames, IA: Iowa State University: 154-157.  [3370]
  • 29.  Bourgeron, P. S.; Kratz, A. M.; Weaver, T.; Weidman, N. 1988.        Bibliography of Montana vegetation description. Great Basin Naturalist.        48(3): 301-401.  [6121]
  • 77.  Hancock, James F.; Draper, Arlen D. 1989. Blueberry culture in North        America. HortScience. 24(4): 551-556.  [9513]
  • 78.  Hanson, Eric J.; Ismail, Amr. A.; Struchtemeyer, Roland A. 1982. Effect        of method and date of pruning on soil organic matter and leaf nutrient        concentrations of lowbush blueberries. Canadian Journal of Plant        Science. 62: 813-817.  [9159]
  • 113.  Nickerson, Nancy L.; Mac Neill, B. H. 1987. Studies on the spread of red        leaf disease, caused by Exobasidium vaccinii, in lowbush blueberries.        Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology. 9: 307-310.  [10875]
  • 116.  Ohmann, Lewis F.; Grigal, David F. 1979. Early revegetation and nutrient        dynamics following the 1971 Little Sioux Forest Fire in northeastern        Minnesota. Forest Science Monograph 21. Bethesda, MD: The Society of        American Foresters. 80 p.  [6992]
  • 124.  Rogers, Robert. 1974. Blueberries. In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M.,        compilers. Shrubs and vines for northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep.        NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,        Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 12-15.  [14073]
  • 131.  Sharp, Ward M. 1971. The role of fire in ruffed grouse habitat        management. In: Proceedings, Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1970        August 20-21; Fredericton, NB. No. 10. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers        Research Station: 47-61.  [11120]
  • 132.  Shubat, Deborah Jo. 1983. Management of native lowbush blueberry for        recreational picking in northeastern Minnesota. Minneapolis, MN:        University of Minnesota. 79 p. Thesis.  [10480]
  • 143.  Stergas, R. L.; Adams, K. B. 1989. Jack pine barrens in northeastern New        York: postfire macronutrient concentrations, heat content, and        understory biomass. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 19: 904-910.        [8629]
  • 145.  Tester, John R. 1989. Effects of fire frequency on oak savanna in        east-central Minnesota. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 116(2):        134-144.  [9281]
  • 163.  Vogl, Richard J. 1971. Fire and the northern Wisconsin pine barrens. In:        Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers Fire ecology conference; 1970 August        20-21; New Brunsick, Canada. No. 10. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers        Research Station: 175-209.  [2432]

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Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: cover, density

Season of burn:  In general, low sweet blueberry is most reduced by
summer fires [50].  Flinn and Wein [58] reported higher stem densities
after burning in fall, when plants had completed photosynthate storage
and had reserves available for new growth.  Smith [138] reported no
increases in density or productivity after plants were burned in summer
in northern Ontario.  Eaton and White [50] observed that the number of
sprouts and flowers was greatest after spring fires.  Plants burned
after July 1 did not sprout until the following year [110].  Plants
burned in August, September, October, or November, do not sprout until
the following spring [50].  Spring fires typically promote fewer
competitors than do fall fires [139].  In commercial blueberry fields,
increases in dry matter and percent cover have been noted after both
spring and fall fires [139].

For further information on low sweet blueberry to fire, see Fire Case
Studies
. Also see the Research Project Summary Vegetation change in
grasslands and heathlands following multiple spring, summer, and fall
prescription fires in Massachusetts
, which provides information on
prescribed fire and postfire response of plant community species, including
low sweet blueberry, that was not available when this species review
was originally written.
  • 50.  Eaton, E. L.; White, R. G. 1960. The relation between burning dates and        the development of sprouts and flower buds in the lowbush blueberry.        American Society for Horticultural Science. 76: 338-342.  [6242]
  • 58.  Flinn, Marguerite A.; Wein, Ross W. 1988. Regrowth of forest understory        species following seasonal burning. Canadian Journal of Botany. 66:        150-155.  [3014]
  • 110.  Miller, Melanie. 1976. Shrub sprouting response to fire in a        Douglas-fir/western larch ecosystem. Missoula, MT: University of        Montana. 124 p. Thesis.  [8945]
  • 138.  Smith, D. W. 1971. Surface fires in northern Ontario. In: Proceedings,        Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1968 March 14-15; Tallahassee, FL.        No. 8. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 41-54.  [11433]
  • 139.  Smith, D. W.; Hilton, R. J. 1971. The comparative effects of pruning by        burning or clipping on lowbush blueberries in northeastern Ontario.        Journal of Applied Ecology. 81(3): 781-789.  [9026]

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: density, severity, wildfire

Low sweet blueberry generally sprouts from rhizomes and the root crown
after aboveground vegetation is consumed by fire [65,83].  Plants may
also sprout from buds located on the stem base [83,157], but stems that
arise from underground rhizomes are generally more vigorous than those
that develop from partially burned aboveground stems [107].  Rhizome
sprouting is much slower than crown sprouting [148].  Some
reestablishment via seed germination may occur under favorable
conditions [117].

Fire intensity and severity, season of burn, community type, and soil
are important factors influencing postfire response [138,148,161].
Cover and stem density commonly increase rapidly [55], and recovery may
be well underway within 4 to 5 postfire months [55,57].  Low sweet
blueberry was well represented within 4 months after an intense fire
destroyed all aboveground vegetation in a spruce stand in Manitoba [84].
In many areas, including parts of Nova Scotia and Ontario, low sweet
blueberry regains prominence 2 to 3 years after fire [6,106,144].
Although initially reduced after fire in jack pine and black spruce
communities, low sweet blueberry increased beyond prefire levels after 5
years [10,42,109].  Recovery may be delayed after hot fires.  Low sweet
blueberry was present within 13 years after a severe wildfire in a red
pine-white pine forest [11]. Hall and others [72] reported that V. a.
forma nigrum tends to increase more rapidly than does V. a. forma
angustifolium in fields that are burned regularly.

Fruit is not produced the year of the burn but is produced in abundance
during the next 3 postfire years [25,28,161].  In general, young
healthy plants regenerate more successfully than older, decadent ones
[93].  Where clones are extremely decadent, it may take three seasons of
postfire growth before fruit production and vigor reach "satisfactory
levels" [131].  Some researchers report that burning too frequently can
cause fruit yields to decline [25].

Increases in low sweet blueberry after fire may be due in part to the
stimulatory effect of nutrients added by ash deposition or changes in pH
[70].  Blackened ground absorbs heat and may promote earlier fruit
ripening [28].
  • 6.  Abrams, Marc D.; Dickmann, Donald I. 1984. Floristic composition before        and after prescribed fire on a jack pine clear-cut site in northern        lower Michigan. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 14: 746-749.        [7236]
  • 10.  Ahlgren, Clifford E. 1970. Some effects of prescribed burning on jack        pine reproduction in northeastern Minnesota. Misc. Rep. 94, Forestry        Series 5-1970. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Agricultural        Experiment Station. 14 p.  [7285]
  • 11.  Ahlgren, Clifford E. 1976. Regeneration of red pine and white pine        following wildfire and logging in northeastern Minnesota. Journal of        Forestry. 74: 135-140.  [7242]
  • 25.  Black, W. N. 1963. The effect of frequency of rotational burning on        blueberry production. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 43: 161-165.        [4853]
  • 28.  Books, David J. 1972. Little Sioux Burn: year two. Naturalist. 23(3&4):        2-7.  [11550]
  • 42.  Chrosciewicz, Z. 1976. Burning for black spruce regeneration on a        lowland cutover site in southeastern Manitoba. Canadian Journal of        Forest Research. 6(2): 179-186.  [7280]
  • 55.  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]
  • 57.  Flinn, Marguerite A.; Wein, Ross W. 1977. Depth of underground plant        organs and theoretical survival during fire. Canadian Journal of Botany.        55: 2550-2554.  [6362]
  • 65.  Hall, I. V. 1955. Floristic changes following the cutting and burning of        a woodlot for blueberry production. Canadian Journal of Agricultural        Science. 35: 143-152.  [9012]
  • 70.  Hall, I. V.; Aalders, L. E.; Barker, W. G. 1964. A preliminary        investigation of factors limiting lowbush blueberry production on Cape        Breton Island. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 44: 491-492.  [9121]
  • 72.  Hall, Ivan V.; Aalders, Lewis E.; Nickerson, Nancy L.; Vander Kloet, Sam        P. 1979. The biological flora of Canada. I. Vaccinium angustifolium        Ait., sweet lowbush blueberry. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 93(4):        415-430.  [9185]
  • 83.  Hoefs, M. E. G.; Shay, Jennifer M. 1981. The effects of shade on shoot        growth of Vaccinium angustifolium Ait. after fire pruning in        southeastern Manitoba. Canadian Journal of Botany. 59: 166-174.  [4977]
  • 84.  Holliday, N. J. 1984. Carabid beetles (Coleoptera:Carabidae) from a        burned spruce forest (Picea spp.). Canadian Entomologist. 116: 919-922.        [8337]
  • 93.  Kautz, Edward W. 1987. Prescribed fire in blueberry management. Fire        Management Notes. 48(3): 9-12.  [9848]
  • 106.  Martin, J. Lynton. 1956. An ecological survey of burned-over forest land        in southwestern Nova Scotia. Forestry Chronicle. 32: 313-336.  [8932]
  • 107.  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]
  • 109.  McRae, D. J. 1979. Forest fire research in Ontario. Forestry Research        Newsletter. Sault Ste. Marie, ON: Environment Canada, Forestry Service,        Great Lakes Forest Research Centre. Summer: 1-8.  [17008]
  • 117.  Ohmann, Lewis F.; Grigal, David F. 1981. Contrasting vegetation        responses following two forest fires in northeastern Minnesota. American        Midland Naturalist. 106(1): 54-64.  [8285]
  • 131.  Sharp, Ward M. 1971. The role of fire in ruffed grouse habitat        management. In: Proceedings, Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1970        August 20-21; Fredericton, NB. No. 10. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers        Research Station: 47-61.  [11120]
  • 138.  Smith, D. W. 1971. Surface fires in northern Ontario. In: Proceedings,        Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1968 March 14-15; Tallahassee, FL.        No. 8. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 41-54.  [11433]
  • 144.  Stocks, Brian J.; Alexander, Martin E. 1980. Forest fire behaviour and        effects research in northern Ontario: a field oriented program. In:        Martin, Robert E.; Edmonds, Robert L.; Faulkner, Donald A.; [and        others]
  • 148.  Trevett, M. F. 1956. Some growth habits of the low-bush blueberry. Maine        Farm Research. 3(3): 16-18.  [10084]
  • 157.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1988. The genus Vaccinium in North America.        Publication 1828. Ottawa: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 201 p.        [11436]
  • 161.  Vogl, Richard J. 1964. The effects of fire on a muskeg in northern        Wisconsin. Journal of Wildlife Management. 28(2): 317-329.  [12170]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

More info for the terms: fire severity, muskeg, rhizome, severity

Low sweet blueberry is tolerant of heat [56].  Underground portions of
the plant generally survive wildfires or prescribed fires [157], even
even when all aboveground vegetation is consumed [28,41].  In jack pine
barrens, rhizomes have survived brief exposure to fires producing soil
surface temperatures up to 1,013 degrees Fahrenheit (545 deg C) [140].
However, exposure to temperatures of 1,295 to 1,513 degrees Fahrenheit
(702-823 deg C) for 80 sec apparently resulted in some rhizome mortality
[111].

Fire effects vary with fire severity and intensity, and season of burn
[136].  Rhizome mortality increases as heat penetration into the soil
increases [136].  In a northern Wisconsin muskeg, survival was poor
after hot fires burned out layers of sphagnum [161].  Plants are
generally most severely harmed by hot summer fires which occur when food
reserves are low [55].  Seedlings that lack a well-developed rhizome
system are often killed by recurring fires [96].
  • 28.  Books, David J. 1972. Little Sioux Burn: year two. Naturalist. 23(3&4):        2-7.  [11550]
  • 41.  Chrosciewicz, Z. 1970. Regeneration of jack pine by burning and seeding        treatments on clear-cut sites in central Ontario. Inf. Rep. 0-X-138.        Forest Research laboratory, Ontario Region, Canadian Forestry Service,        Department of Fisheries and Forestry. 13 p.  [7241]
  • 55.  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]
  • 56.  Flinn, Marguerite A.; Pringle, Joan K. 1983. Heat tolerance of rhizomes        of several understory species. Canadian Journal of Botany. 61: 452-457.        [8444]
  • 96.  Kender, Walter J.; Eggert, Franklin P. 1966. Several soil management        practices influencing the growth and rhizome development of the lowbush        blueberry. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 46(2): 141-149.  [9015]
  • 111.  Mohr, H. A.; Kevan, P. G. 1987. Pollinators and pollination requirements        of lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait. and V. myrtilloides        Michx.) and cranberry .... Proceedings of the Entomological Society of        Ontario. 118(0): 149-154.  [10806]
  • 136.  Smith, D. W. 1962. Ecological studies of Vaccinium species in Alberta.        Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 42: 82-90.  [7004]
  • 140.  Smith, David W.; Sparling, John H. 1966. The temperatures of surface        fires in jack pine barrens. Canadian Journal of Botany. 44(10):        1285-1292.  [9011]
  • 157.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1988. The genus Vaccinium in North America.        Publication 1828. Ottawa: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 201 p.        [11436]
  • 161.  Vogl, Richard J. 1964. The effects of fire on a muskeg in northern        Wisconsin. Journal of Wildlife Management. 28(2): 317-329.  [12170]

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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

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Fire Ecology

More info for the terms: fire frequency, frequency, natural, root crown

Low sweet blueberry is well adapted to fire [29,144].  It generally
sprouts from the rhizomes or root crown after aboveground vegetation is
removed or damaged by fire.  Some seed may be transported on-site by
birds and mammals, but seedling establishment is generally limited to
favorable sites in good years and appears to play a minimal role in
postfire reestablishment.  Fire removes decadent aboveground vegetation
and promotes vigorous growth [29].  In parts of the Maritimes and the
northeastern United States, peatlands, lakes, and rocky outcrops serve
as natural fire breaks [59].  Fires in these areas are frequently
patchy, creating forest openings into which low sweet blueberry can
rapidly expand.  Plants within these openings receive sufficient light
for good vigor and fruit production.

Fire frequencies vary across its wide range, but low sweet blueberry
appears well adapted to survive in many FIRE REGIMES.  In Acadian
forests, fire frequencies range from 60 to 1,000 years [55].  In parts
of southeastern Labrador, fire occurs an average of once every 500 years
[59], and in parts of New Brunswick, an average of once every 370 years
[55].  In drier inland areas, fire-free intervals are much shorter.
Fire is important in maintaining jack pine communities in which low
sweet blueberry occurs as an understory dominant [59].  In jack pine
communities of Minnesota, fire frequency has been estimated at 100 years
[172].  Fire frequencies in Wisconsin pine barrens have been estimated
at 20 to 40 years [163].  Occasional fires maintain the open character
of these communities and allow for the continued prominence of low sweet
blueberry.
  • 29.  Bourgeron, P. S.; Kratz, A. M.; Weaver, T.; Weidman, N. 1988.        Bibliography of Montana vegetation description. Great Basin Naturalist.        48(3): 301-401.  [6121]
  • 55.  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]
  • 59.  Foster, David R. 1983. The history and pattern of fire in the boreal        forest of southeastern Labrador. Canadian Journal of Botany. 61:        2459-2471.  [9683]
  • 144.  Stocks, Brian J.; Alexander, Martin E. 1980. Forest fire behaviour and        effects research in northern Ontario: a field oriented program. In:        Martin, Robert E.; Edmonds, Robert L.; Faulkner, Donald A.; [and        others]
  • 163.  Vogl, Richard J. 1971. Fire and the northern Wisconsin pine barrens. In:        Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers Fire ecology conference; 1970 August        20-21; New Brunsick, Canada. No. 10. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers        Research Station: 175-209.  [2432]
  • 172.  Young, Roger S. 1952. Growth and development of the blueberry fruit        (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) and V. angustifolium Ait. Proceedings of the        American Society for Horticultural Science. 59: 167-172.  [9663]

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: cover

Facultative Seral Species

Low sweet blueberry is an important recolonizer [57].  Its sprouts are
prominent on disturbed sites such as clearcuts, burns, fields, and
pastures [17,72,157].  Cover is typically higher on fields derived from
hayfields than those derived from woodlots [68].  Low sweet blueberry is
an important seral species during the transition from field to forest in
various eastern old-field communities [72].
  • 17.  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]
  • 57.  Flinn, Marguerite A.; Wein, Ross W. 1977. Depth of underground plant        organs and theoretical survival during fire. Canadian Journal of Botany.        55: 2550-2554.  [6362]
  • 68.  Hall, I. V. 1959. Plant populations in blueberry stands developed from        abandoned hayfields and woodlots. Ecology. 40(4): 742-743.  [9108]
  • 72.  Hall, Ivan V.; Aalders, Lewis E.; Nickerson, Nancy L.; Vander Kloet, Sam        P. 1979. The biological flora of Canada. I. Vaccinium angustifolium        Ait., sweet lowbush blueberry. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 93(4):        415-430.  [9185]
  • 157.  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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Regeneration Processes

More info for the terms: cover, presence, shrubs

Low sweet blueberry reproduces vegetatively and by seed [72,111].

Seed:  Plants generally first flower at approximately 4 years of age
[72].  Researchers have reported a range of 56 to 64 seeds per berry
[21,153].  Viability ranges from 30 to 50 percent [153].  Some clones
are self-fertile, others self-sterile [1].  Flowers are generally
pollinated by wild bees [119].  Shrubs with relatively few flowers may
fail to attract pollinators, and shrubs with fewer than 30 flowers
rarely produce fruit.  Productive plants may bear more than 400 flowers
[156].

Seed dispersal:  Seeds of low sweet blueberry are dispersed by various
birds and mammals [72,124].  In New England and the Maritime Provinces,
the American robin and black bear are particularly effective long
distance dispersal agents [72,100,,126,154].  Deer mice, chipmunks, and
the red-back vole are important local dispersers [9,100].

Seed banking:  Seed banking has not been documented, but researchers
have reported the presence of seeds within the top layers of soil [65].
Seed can remain viable for up to 12 years when properly stored [124],
and limited seed banking may occur.

Germination:  In laboratory tests, germination ranged from 30 to 80
percent [153].  Seed germinates best when exposed to light [72].  Fresh
seed germinates readily at 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 deg C) under a
regime of 16 hours light per 24-hour period [72].  Germination generally
begins within 3 to 4 weeks and continues for 6 to 8 weeks [48].
Stratification and pretreatment with gibberellin can speed germination
[48,125].

Seedling establishment:  Seedling establishment appears variable.
Seedlings are commonly observed in parts of the Maritime Provinces and
in northern Maine [157], where seeds germinate on open sites with high
moisture availability [119].  Seedlings are sometimes observed in
clearcuts, on burned sites, and in abandoned fields [119].  However,
seedlings are rare in eastern Ontario and in many other parts of this
species' range [153].  In Ontario, seedling establishment is unlikely
unless the following conditions occur: (1) a cool spring follows
dispersal, (2) August and September are wet, (3) the winter is mild or
there is a good snow cover, and (4) the spring is wet.  These conditions
have been observed only once during a 40-year period [153].  Poor
seedling establishment is generally attributable to unfavorable soil
temperatures and water stress [142].

Vegetative regeneration:  In many areas, vegetative expansion is the
primary mode of regeneration [8,153].  In the absence of disturbance,
clones increase by expansion of rhizomes [15,119,124].  After fire or
other types of disturbance, plants often sprout from the stem base, from
underground rhizomes [157], or from unburned belowground portions of
aerial stems [15].  Rhizomes subjected to heat treatment often develop
significantly greater numbers of shoots than do untreated rhizomes [56].
  • 1.  Aalders, L. E. Hall, I. V. 1962. New evidence on the cytotaxonomy of        Vaccinium species as revealed by stomatal measurements from herbarium        specimens. Nature. 196: 694.  [9176]
  • 8.  Ahlgren, Clifford E. 1960. Some effects of fire on reproduction and        growth of vegetation in northeastern Minnesota. Ecology. 41(3): 431-445.        [207]
  • 9.  Ahlgren, Clifford E. 1966. Small mammals and reforestation following        prescribed burning. Journal of Forestry. 64: 614-618.  [206]
  • 15.  Barker, W. G.; Collins, W. B. 1963. Growth and development of the        lowbush blueberry: apical abortion. Canadian Journal of Botany. 41:        1319-1324.  [9265]
  • 21.  Bell, Hugh P. 1957. The development of the blueberry seed. Canadian        Journal of Botany. 35: 139-153.  [9511]
  • 48.  Dweikat, I. M.; Lyrene, P. M. 1989. Response of highbush blueberry seed        germination to gibberellin A3 and 6N-benzyladenine. Canadian Journal of        Botany. 67: 3391-3393.  [9908]
  • 56.  Flinn, Marguerite A.; Pringle, Joan K. 1983. Heat tolerance of rhizomes        of several understory species. Canadian Journal of Botany. 61: 452-457.        [8444]
  • 65.  Hall, I. V. 1955. Floristic changes following the cutting and burning of        a woodlot for blueberry production. Canadian Journal of Agricultural        Science. 35: 143-152.  [9012]
  • 72.  Hall, Ivan V.; Aalders, Lewis E.; Nickerson, Nancy L.; Vander Kloet, Sam        P. 1979. The biological flora of Canada. I. Vaccinium angustifolium        Ait., sweet lowbush blueberry. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 93(4):        415-430.  [9185]
  • 100.  Krefting, Laurits W.; Roe, Eugene I. 1949. The role of some birds and        mammals in seed germination. Ecological Monographs. 19(3): 269-286.        [8847]
  • 111.  Mohr, H. A.; Kevan, P. G. 1987. Pollinators and pollination requirements        of lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait. and V. myrtilloides        Michx.) and cranberry .... Proceedings of the Entomological Society of        Ontario. 118(0): 149-154.  [10806]
  • 119.  Pritts, Marvin P.; Hancock, James F. 1984. Independence of life history        parameters in populations of Vaccinium angustifolium (Ericaceae).        Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 3(4): 451-461.  [9165]
  • 124.  Rogers, Robert. 1974. Blueberries. In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M.,        compilers. Shrubs and vines for northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep.        NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,        Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 12-15.  [14073]
  • 125.  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]
  • 142.  Stark, Nellie M. 1989. The ecology of Vaccinium globulare: seedling        establishment and nutrition. In: Wallace, Arthur; McArthur, E. Durant;        Haferkamp, Marshall R., compilers. Proceedings--symposium on shrub        ecophysiology and biotechnology; 1987 June 30 - July 2; Logan, UT. Gen.        Tech. Rep. INT-256. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest        Service, Intermountain Research Station: 164-168.  [5946]
  • 153.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1976. A comparison of the dispersal and seedling        establishment of Vaccinium angustifolium in Leeds Co., Ontario and        Pictou Co., Nova Scotia. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 90(2): 176-180.        [9112]
  • 156.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1985. Differences in vegetative and reproductive        growth among Ontario, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland populations of        Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton. American Midland Naturalist. 113(2):        397-400.  [9173]
  • 157.  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)

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More info for the term: phanerophyte

  
   Phanerophyte

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Life Form

More info for the term: shrub

Shrub

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Fire Management Implications

Both burning and mechanical pruning increased stem numbers.  However,
mechanically pruned plants produced more flower buds than the
burn-pruned plants.  Tests indicated that mulch should not be applied to
recently pruned plants.  Fertilizers proved to be most effective on
mechanically pruned and untreated plants.  They had little effect on
recently burned plants.  Best results were observed when plants were
mechanically clipped or fire pruned in April or November.  This
experiment suggests that semicultivated stands of low sweet blueberry in
Minnesota may need to be pruned every 4 to 5 years rather than every
other year as is most common in parts of the Northeast.

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Season/Severity Classification

May/not reported.

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Ecology

Low sweet blueberry occurs as an understory dominant or codominant in a variety of forest communities. Common overstory dominants include eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), jack pine (P. banksiana), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), red maple (A. rubrum), and northern red oak (Quercus rubra). Common codominants include Canada beadruby (Maianthemum canadense), pointed-leaved tick trefoil (Desmodium glutinosum), mapleleaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium), and hairgrass (Deschampsia spp.). Low sweet blueberry is listed as an indicator or dominant species in the following habitat type classifications. (USDA FEIS, 1991)

This species is highly fire resilient in both natural and artificial regimes. Fire treatment may be used to enhance fruiting, which is low the first season and high for the following three. The causility is debated and may range from increased nutrients, favorable pH, increased heat from black soil, and reduction of competitors. (USDA FEIS, 1991)

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

Phenological development of low sweet blueberry varies according to
geographic location and specific weather conditions [22,62].
Temperature and day length are important regulatory influences [72,76].
Initial floral development begins in the year prior to flowering and
fruiting [3].  Floral bud primordia appear during June and early July
[22] when day length reaches approximately 15 hours [3].  Development
may continue until late October if air temperatures remain above 32
degrees Fahrenheit (0 deg C) with long periods above 50 degrees
Fahrenheit (10 deg C) [72].  Leaves harden by mid-July, color by late
August, and abscise by late October [72,119].

Plants are dormant in fall [157] and overwinter in a leafless state
[72].  Active annual growth can begin as early as March or April [22],
but in many areas, both vegetative and flower bud development begins in
early May after air temperatures have exceeded 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10
deg C) for a least 3 to 4 consecutive days [72].  Vegetative shoots
grow until midsummer [83].

Plants generally flower in May or June of their 2nd year [72,167].  A
few flowers may open as early as March in unusually good years, and some
plants occasionally flower as late as September or October [154].
Flowering may be delayed by 2 or 3 weeks in cool, coastal areas [72].
Fruit generally ripens from midsummer to late summer, approximately 50
days after anthesis [171].  In an Ontario study, seed dispersal began
from June 11 to June 20, peaked in early July, and ended in September
[153].  Generalized flowering and fruiting dates for various locations
are as follows:

Location        Flowering               Fruiting        

VA              May-June                July-August [150]
NS              June-late July          early-mid-August [72,157]
Pictou Co.,NS   ----                    July 17- Oct. 27 [151]
ME              ----                    mid July-August [77]
MI              May-June                July-August [44]
NJ              April                   ---- [154]
ON              May-early June          June-September [153,154,141].
       
  • 3.  Aalders, L. E.; Hall, I. V. 1964. A comparison of flower-bud development        in the lowbush blueberry Vaccinium angustifolium Ait. under greenhouse        and field conditions. Proceedings of the American Society for        Horticultural Science. 85: 281-284.  [9668]
  • 22.  Bell, Hugh P.; Burchill, Jane. 1955. Flower development in the lowbush        blueberry. Canadian Journal of Botany. 33: 251-258.  [9190]
  • 44.  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]
  • 62.  Frank, R.; Sirons, G. J.; Campbell, R. A.; Mewett, D. 1983. Residues of        2,4-D dichlorprop and picloram in wild berries from treated        rights-of-way and conifer release sites in Ontario, 1979-1981. Canadian        Journal of Plant Science. 63: 195-209.  [10705]
  • 72.  Hall, Ivan V.; Aalders, Lewis E.; Nickerson, Nancy L.; Vander Kloet, Sam        P. 1979. The biological flora of Canada. I. Vaccinium angustifolium        Ait., sweet lowbush blueberry. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 93(4):        415-430.  [9185]
  • 76.  Hall, I. V.; Ludwig, R. A. 1961. The effects of photoperiod,        temperature, and light intensity on the growth of the lowbush blueberry        (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.). Canadian Journal of Botany. 39:        1733-1739.  [9073]
  • 77.  Hancock, James F.; Draper, Arlen D. 1989. Blueberry culture in North        America. HortScience. 24(4): 551-556.  [9513]
  • 83.  Hoefs, M. E. G.; Shay, Jennifer M. 1981. The effects of shade on shoot        growth of Vaccinium angustifolium Ait. after fire pruning in        southeastern Manitoba. Canadian Journal of Botany. 59: 166-174.  [4977]
  • 119.  Pritts, Marvin P.; Hancock, James F. 1984. Independence of life history        parameters in populations of Vaccinium angustifolium (Ericaceae).        Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 3(4): 451-461.  [9165]
  • 141.  Soper, James H.; Heimburger, Margaret L. 1982. Shrubs of Ontario. Life        Sciences Misc. Publ. Toronto, ON: Royal Ontario Museum. 495 p.  [12907]
  • 150.  Uttal, Leonard J. 1987. The Genus Vaccinium L. (Ericaceae) in Virginia.        Castanea. 52(4): 231-255.  [6240]
  • 151.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1976. A novel approach to sampling Vaccinium        populations. Canadian Journal of Botany. 54: 669-671.  [9183]
  • 153.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1976. A comparison of the dispersal and seedling        establishment of Vaccinium angustifolium in Leeds Co., Ontario and        Pictou Co., Nova Scotia. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 90(2): 176-180.        [9112]
  • 154.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1978. Systematics, distribution, and nomenclature of        the polymorphic Vaccinium angustifolium. Rhodora. 80: 358-376.  [9115]
  • 157.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1988. The genus Vaccinium in North America.        Publication 1828. Ottawa: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 201 p.        [11436]
  • 167.  Wood, F. A.; Barker, W. G. 1963. Stem pigmentation in lowbush blueberry.        Plant Physiology. 38: 191-193.  [9182]
  • 171.  Yarborough, David E.; Hoelper, Antonia L. 1986. Broom grass control in        lowbush blueberry fields using postemergence herbicides. In: Proceedings        of the 40th Annual Meeting of the Northeastern Weed Science Society;        [Date of conference unknown]

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Blooming occurs April through June. Fruit is born June through September. (Hultman, 1978) The plant flowers in May and fruits in July. (Peattie, 1930) The active growth period is Spring and Summer. The fruit/seed period begins in the Summer and ends in the Summer. (USDA PLANTS, 2009) Bloom time is May and June. (NPIN, 2007)
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Life Expectancy

This is a perennial. (USDA PLANTS, 2009)
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Vaccinium angustifolium

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 0
Specimens with Barcodes: 7
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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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This plant is listed by the U.S. federal government or a state. Common names are from state and federal lists. In Iowa low sweet blueberry is listed as Threatened. (USDA PLANTS, 2009)
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Management

Management considerations

More info for the term: fern

Competition:  In some areas, low sweet blueberry is described as a
"troublesome" brush species that can interfere with red pine
regeneration [52].  In other areas, however, jack pine regenerates
better in monotypic stands of low sweet blueberry than in mixed stands
of sweet-fern, bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum), and fireweed
(Epilobium angustifolium) [41].

Herbicides:  Low sweet blueberry can be controlled by 2,4-D, and 2,4,5-T
[124].  Herbicides such as hexazinone and Terbacil have been widely used
in commercial fields to eliminate weeds that compete with low sweet
blueberry [77,137,172].

Environmental Considerations:  Low sweet blueberry is tolerant of acid
rain (pH < 3.5) [129].  Studies indicate that plants can survive at
least short-term exposure to acid rain with a pH of 2.5.  Low sweet
blueberry could increase in response to acid rain in boreal forests
[129].  It is apparently resistant to emissions produced by zinc
smelters [91].

Wildlife:  The reproductive success of black bears has been correlated
to annual blueberry crops.  Poor blueberry crops can limit black bear
reproductive success as well as overall survival in aspen-birch-conifer
forests of northeastern Minnesota.  In Wisconsin bears depredations
such as damage to crops and beehives and livestock losses typically
increase during poor berry years [125].

Timber harvest:  Although opening a closed stand can improve the growth
and vigor of low sweet blueberry, clearcutting and postharvest burning
does not ensure the development of a lush stand of blueberry [65].  Hall
[65] observed that after growing in the heavy shade of a closed forest
canopy, many plants were killed by postharvest burns.  Survival may be
greater if plants are allowed to grow and increase in vigor before
burning [65].  Thinning for pulpwood cuttings can result in vigorous
growth of low sweet blueberry [65,70] as plants spread by rhizomes into
opened areas.  Response to various types of timber treatments has been
reported [9,10,134].

Fruit production:  Low sweet blueberry fruit production is strongly
influenced by weather conditions, climate, pollinator availability,
light intensity, genetic factors, and nutrient levels at the time of bud
initiation [16,70,147].  Fruit production is limited under low light
intensity [67,150]; production is virtually nil at 50 to 500
foot-candles [67].  Shade produced by competing weeds can often reduce
fruit yields [67].

Cross-pollination by insects is necessary for good fruit set
[87,103,168].  Aalders and Hall [1] observed that fruit set ranged from
approximately 81 to 90 percent in cross-pollinated plants but from only
0 to 52 percent in self-pollinated plants.  Yields tend to be lower in
fields containing both velvetleaf blueberry and low sweet blueberry than
in fields containing only low sweet blueberry [1].  In some areas, the
widespread use of insecticides has decimated wild bee populations.
Although honeybees are less effective pollinators than wild bees,
growers often add honeybees in an effort to improve fruit set
[1,102,111,166].
  • 1.  Aalders, L. E. Hall, I. V. 1962. New evidence on the cytotaxonomy of        Vaccinium species as revealed by stomatal measurements from herbarium        specimens. Nature. 196: 694.  [9176]
  • 9.  Ahlgren, Clifford E. 1966. Small mammals and reforestation following        prescribed burning. Journal of Forestry. 64: 614-618.  [206]
  • 10.  Ahlgren, Clifford E. 1970. Some effects of prescribed burning on jack        pine reproduction in northeastern Minnesota. Misc. Rep. 94, Forestry        Series 5-1970. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Agricultural        Experiment Station. 14 p.  [7285]
  • 16.  Barker, W. G.; Collins, W. B. 1965. Parthenocarpic fruit set in the        lowbush blueberry. American Society for Horticultural Science. 87:        229-233.  [9503]
  • 41.  Chrosciewicz, Z. 1970. Regeneration of jack pine by burning and seeding        treatments on clear-cut sites in central Ontario. Inf. Rep. 0-X-138.        Forest Research laboratory, Ontario Region, Canadian Forestry Service,        Department of Fisheries and Forestry. 13 p.  [7241]
  • 52.  Eyre, F. H.; Zehngraff, Paul. 1948. Red pine management in Minnesota.        Circular No. 778. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 70 p.        [12177]
  • 65.  Hall, I. V. 1955. Floristic changes following the cutting and burning of        a woodlot for blueberry production. Canadian Journal of Agricultural        Science. 35: 143-152.  [9012]
  • 67.  Hall, Ivan V. 1958. Some effects of light on native lowbush blueberries.        American Society for Horticultural Science. 72: 216-218.  [8939]
  • 70.  Hall, I. V.; Aalders, L. E.; Barker, W. G. 1964. A preliminary        investigation of factors limiting lowbush blueberry production on Cape        Breton Island. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 44: 491-492.  [9121]
  • 77.  Hancock, James F.; Draper, Arlen D. 1989. Blueberry culture in North        America. HortScience. 24(4): 551-556.  [9513]
  • 87.  Ismail, Amr A.; Kender, Walter J. 1974. Physical and chemical changes        associated with the development of the lowbush blueberry fruit        (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait.). U. of Maine at Orono, Life Sci. & Agr.        Exp. Sta. Techncial Bull. 70(May): 1-13.  [9642]
  • 91.  Jordan, Marilyn J. 1975. Effects of zinc smelter emissions and fire on a        chestnut-oak woodland. Ecology. 56: 78-91.  [3461]
  • 102.  Lomond, Derek; Larson, David J. 1983. Honey bees, Apis mellifera        (Hymenoptera: Apidae) as pollinators of lowbush blueberry, Vaccinium        angustifolium on NF coastal barrens. Canadian Entomologist. 115(12):        1647-1651.  [9181]
  • 103.  Luby, J. J.; Wildung, D. K.; Munson, S. T. Read, P. E.; Hoover, E. E.        1986. 'Northblue,' 'Northsky,' and 'Northcountry' blueberries.        HortScience. 4(4): 342-344.  [9178]
  • 111.  Mohr, H. A.; Kevan, P. G. 1987. Pollinators and pollination requirements        of lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Ait. and V. myrtilloides        Michx.) and cranberry .... Proceedings of the Entomological Society of        Ontario. 118(0): 149-154.  [10806]
  • 124.  Rogers, Robert. 1974. Blueberries. In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M.,        compilers. Shrubs and vines for northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep.        NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,        Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 12-15.  [14073]
  • 125.  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]
  • 129.  Scott, Martha G.; Hutchinson, Thomas C.; Feth, Marilyn J. 1989.        Contrasting responses of lichens and Vaccinium angustifolium to        long-term acidification of a boreal forest ecosystem. Canadian Journal        of Botany. 67(2): 579-588.  [9257]
  • 134.  Sidhu, S. S. 1973. Early effects of burning and logging in pine-mixed        woods. I. Frequency and biomass of minor vegetation. Inf. Rep. PS-X-46.        Chalk River, ON: Canadian Forestry Service, Petawawa Forest Experiment        Station. 47 p.  [7901]
  • 137.  Smith, D. W. 1969. A taximetric study of Vaccinium in northeastern        Ontario. Canadian Journal of Botany. 47: 1747-1759.  [9193]
  • 147.  Townsend, L. R.; Hall, I. V. 1970. Trends in nutrient levels of lowbush        blueberry leaves during four consecutive years of sampling. Le        Naturaliste Canadien. 97(4): 461-466.  [9256]
  • 150.  Uttal, Leonard J. 1987. The Genus Vaccinium L. (Ericaceae) in Virginia.        Castanea. 52(4): 231-255.  [6240]
  • 166.  Wood, G. W. 1961. The influence of honeybee pollination on fruit set of        the lowbush blueberry. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 41: 332-335.        [9611]
  • 168.  Wood, G. W.; Wood, F. A. 1963. Nectar production and its relation to        fruitset in the lowbush blueberry. Canadian Journal of Botany. 41:        1675-1679.  [11549]
  • 172.  Young, Roger S. 1952. Growth and development of the blueberry fruit        (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) and V. angustifolium Ait. Proceedings of the        American Society for Horticultural Science. 59: 167-172.  [9663]

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Cultivation

The preference is full sun to light shade, mesic to dry conditions, and an acidic soil that is sandy. Cross-pollination between genetically distinct shrubs increases the production of fruit. This shrub may fail to produce flowers and fruit in areas that are too shady.
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Other uses and values

More info for the terms: cover, fresh

Traditional uses:  Native Americans traditionally valued low sweet
blueberry fruit.  Berries were eaten fresh, dried, baked and added to
soups, or mixed with venison and other meats [72,132,157].  Early
European settlers ate the fruit fresh or used it to make jams, jellies,
and preserves [157].

Modern uses:  Low sweet blueberry is the most important commercial
blueberry in the northeastern United States and Canada [34].  It is
grown commercially in Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and
Maine [31,113].  A major portion of the crop is gathered from managed
wild stands [157].
 
Most fruit is used in processed foods such as pie or muffin mixes,
pastries, jam, ice cream, and yogurt [17,31,72,132].  Berries are also
used to make wine and various juice products [17,72].  Low sweet
blueberry is the blueberry most commonly used for commercial canning
[123].  Fruit is also freeze-dried.  The development of the frozen food
industry in the 1940's promoted rapid expansion of low sweet blueberry
cultivation [157].

Recreation use:  Throughout its range, the low sweet blueberry is prized
by recreational berry-pickers.  Blueberry picking is an important
recreational activity in many areas [93].  In the early 1980's, an
estimated 20 percent of all summer tourists engaged in blueberry picking
in parts of the Great Lakes region [132].

Horticultural value:  Plants are ornamental and can be used as
shrubbery, hedges, or as fruiting ground cover [123].  The cultivar
'Tophat' is used only for ornamental purposes and is well suited for
bonsai [123].  Low sweet blueberry has potential for use in breeding
northern fruit-producing stock [45,81] and is well suited to small
farms, since 5 to 10 acres is sufficient to produce a significant
quantity of fruit [7].
  • 7.  Adams, Sean. 1987. Blueberries from field to muffin tin. Agricultural        Research. June/July: 10-13.  [9849]
  • 17.  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]
  • 31.  Bushway, R. J.; Mc Gann, D. F.; Cook, W. P.; Bushway, A. A. 1983.        Mineral and vitamin content of lowbush blueberries (Vaccinium        angustifolium Ait.). Journal of Food Science. 48(6): 1878-1880.  [9114]
  • 34.  Camp, W. H. 1945. The North American blueberries with notes on other        groups of Vacciniaceae. Brittonia. 5(3): 203-275.  [9515]
  • 45.  Darrow, George M. 1960. Blueberry breeding, past, present, future.        American Horticultural Magazine. 39(1): 14-33.  [9126]
  • 72.  Hall, Ivan V.; Aalders, Lewis E.; Nickerson, Nancy L.; Vander Kloet, Sam        P. 1979. The biological flora of Canada. I. Vaccinium angustifolium        Ait., sweet lowbush blueberry. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 93(4):        415-430.  [9185]
  • 81.  Hiirsalmi, H. M.; Hietaranta, T. P. 1989. Winter injuries to highbush        and lowbush blueberries in Finland. Acta Horticulturae. 241: 221-226.        [12158]
  • 93.  Kautz, Edward W. 1987. Prescribed fire in blueberry management. Fire        Management Notes. 48(3): 9-12.  [9848]
  • 113.  Nickerson, Nancy L.; Mac Neill, B. H. 1987. Studies on the spread of red        leaf disease, caused by Exobasidium vaccinii, in lowbush blueberries.        Canadian Journal of Plant Pathology. 9: 307-310.  [10875]
  • 123.  Reich, Lee. 1988. Backyard blues. Organic Gardening. 35(6): 28-34.        [9179]
  • 132.  Shubat, Deborah Jo. 1983. Management of native lowbush blueberry for        recreational picking in northeastern Minnesota. Minneapolis, MN:        University of Minnesota. 79 p. Thesis.  [10480]
  • 157.  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 term: rhizome

Low sweet blueberry may have potential use for rehabilitating certain
types of disturbed sites.  It is tolerant of metals and grows in stunted
form on industrially damaged sites near Sudbury, Ontario [165].  Plants
have recolonized strip-mined areas in West Virginia [79] and reclaimed
mined peatlands of the Northeast [53].  Rhizomes can sometimes aid in
preventing soil erosion on steep slopes [72].

Low sweet blueberry can be readily propagated from hard, semihard, and
softwood cuttings, and from rhizome segments [26,63,90,95].  Side-shoot
cuttings can be used to supplement regular cuttings where rapid
propagation is desired [90].  Cuttings generally root within 6 weeks
[4]; those taken in fall and winter often root best [82].  Detailed
information on vegetative propagation techniques is available
[14,47,63,82,95].

Low sweet blueberry can also be propagated by seed [124]. Cleaned seed
averages 1,972,174 per pound (4,344/g) [44].  Seedlings can be
transplanted to flats after 6 to 7 weeks [12].
  • 4.  Aalders, L. E.; Ismail, A. A.; Hall, I. V.; Hepler, P. R. 1975. Augusta        lowbush blueberry. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 55: 1079.  [9498]
  • 12.  Ahlgren, I. F.; Ahlgren, C. E. 1960. Ecological effects of forest fires.        Botanical Review. 26: 458-533.  [205]
  • 14.  Barker, W. G.; Collins, W. B. 1963. The blueberry rhizome: in vitro        culture. Canadian Journal of Botany. 41: 1325-1329.  [8941]
  • 26.  Blatt, C. R. 1983. Management practices and marketable yields of lowbush        blueberry. HortScience. 18(6): 938-940.  [9194]
  • 44.  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]
  • 47.  Doran, William L. 1957. Propagation of woody plants by cuttings.        Experiment Station Bul. No. 491. Amherst, MA: University of        Massachusetts, College of Agriculture. 99 p.  [6399]
  • 53.  Famous, Norman C.; Spencer, M. 1989. Revegetation patterns in mined        peatlands in central and eastern North America studied. Restoration and        Management Notes. 7(2): 95-96.  [10171]
  • 63.  Frett, John J.; Smagula, John M. 1983. In vitro shoot production of        lowbush blueberry. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 63(2): 467-472.        [9106]
  • 72.  Hall, Ivan V.; Aalders, Lewis E.; Nickerson, Nancy L.; Vander Kloet, Sam        P. 1979. The biological flora of Canada. I. Vaccinium angustifolium        Ait., sweet lowbush blueberry. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 93(4):        415-430.  [9185]
  • 79.  Hardt, Richard A.; Forman, Richard T. T. 1989. Boundary form effects on        woody colonization of reclaimed surface mines. Ecology. 70(5):        1252-1260.  [9470]
  • 82.  Hildreth, A. C. 1929. Propagation of the low-bush blueberry. American        Society for Horticultural Science. 26: 91-92.  [9128]
  • 90.  Johnston, Stanley. 1935. Propagating low- and highbush blueberry plants        by means of small side shoots. American Society for Horticultural        Science. 33: 372-375.  [9127]
  • 95.  Kender, Walter J. 1967. Rhizome development in the lowbush blueberry as        influenced by temperature and photoperiod. American Society for        Horticultural Science. 90: 144-148.  [8938]
  • 124.  Rogers, Robert. 1974. Blueberries. In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M.,        compilers. Shrubs and vines for northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep.        NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,        Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 12-15.  [14073]
  • 165.  Winterhalder, Keith. 1990. The trigger-factor approach to the initiation        of natural regeneration of plant communities on industrially-damaged        lands at Sudbury, Ontario. 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: 215-226.  [14697]

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Nutritional Value

More info for the term: natural

The food value of berries and browse varies seasonally, and with site
characteristics, geographic location, and fire history [29,143].

Fruit:  Fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, natural sugars,
niacin, and manganese [31,123].  Berries are relatively high in
carbohydrates and soluble solids but contain little sodium or fat
[13,31,123,164]. Fruit averages approximately 41 calories per 0.5 cup
[123], with sugar concentration ranging from 0.03 to 0.34 percent [168].
Overall nutrient value is rated as moderately low [164].  Average
vitamin and mineral content of low sweet blueberry fruit on a wet weight
basis is available [31].

Browse:  Nitrogen typically decreases from July 22 to September 22
during crop years but increases during years in which no fruit
production occurs [147].  Levels of phosphorus, calcium, manganese,
potassium, and magnesium also exhibit seasonal fluctuations [147].
Nutrient content of low sweet blueberry leaves is as follows [72]:

Nutrients -              N          P           K         Ca          Mg
Range of
Concentration (%) -  1.50-2.00  0.08-0.121  0.40-0.55  0.40-0.65  0.15-0.20
  • 13.  Ballington, J. R.; Ballinger, W. E.; Swallow, W. H.; [and others]
  • 29.  Bourgeron, P. S.; Kratz, A. M.; Weaver, T.; Weidman, N. 1988.        Bibliography of Montana vegetation description. Great Basin Naturalist.        48(3): 301-401.  [6121]
  • 31.  Bushway, R. J.; Mc Gann, D. F.; Cook, W. P.; Bushway, A. A. 1983.        Mineral and vitamin content of lowbush blueberries (Vaccinium        angustifolium Ait.). Journal of Food Science. 48(6): 1878-1880.  [9114]
  • 72.  Hall, Ivan V.; Aalders, Lewis E.; Nickerson, Nancy L.; Vander Kloet, Sam        P. 1979. The biological flora of Canada. I. Vaccinium angustifolium        Ait., sweet lowbush blueberry. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 93(4):        415-430.  [9185]
  • 123.  Reich, Lee. 1988. Backyard blues. Organic Gardening. 35(6): 28-34.        [9179]
  • 143.  Stergas, R. L.; Adams, K. B. 1989. Jack pine barrens in northeastern New        York: postfire macronutrient concentrations, heat content, and        understory biomass. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 19: 904-910.        [8629]
  • 147.  Townsend, L. R.; Hall, I. V. 1970. Trends in nutrient levels of lowbush        blueberry leaves during four consecutive years of sampling. Le        Naturaliste Canadien. 97(4): 461-466.  [9256]
  • 164.  Wainio, Walter W.; Forbes, E. B. 1941. The chemical composition of        forest fruits and nuts from Pennsylvania. Journal of Agricultural        Research. 62(10): 627-635.  [5401]
  • 168.  Wood, G. W.; Wood, F. A. 1963. Nectar production and its relation to        fruitset in the lowbush blueberry. Canadian Journal of Botany. 41:        1675-1679.  [11549]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

Browse:  The black bear, eastern cottontail, and white-tailed deer feed
on the foliage of low sweet blueberry [71].  In spruce-fir forests of
north-central Maine, it is preferred deer browse [112].  In central
Pennsylvania, deer use is light year-round [30]; deer often eat
overwintering shoots during the early spring [17] and browse plants
during fall and winter [131].  Low sweet blueberry is an important moose
browse in parts of Maine [112] but is rarely eaten in northeastern
Minnesota [85].  Domestic sheep commonly avoid low sweet blueberry
browse [72].

Fruit and flowers:  Fruit is readily eaten by a wide variety of birds
and mammals [70].  In some areas, it is a particularly important late
summer-early fall ptarmigan food [158].  Flower buds are readily eaten
by ruffed grouse during the winter and are considered a major food
source during February in some areas [131]. 

Wildlife species that feed on the fruit include:  mammals - black bear,
red fox, raccoon, red-backed vole, and many species of mice
[17,70,99,132]; birds - American robin, common crow, and eastern
bluebird [70,132].  Wildlife species that eat the fruits of Vaccinium
spp. in general include:  mammals - white-footed mouse, fox squirrel,
red squirrel, eastern spotted skunk, gray fox, and many species of
chipmunks [100,108,124,157,160]; birds - wild turkey, ruffed grouse,
spruce grouse, gray catbird, brown thrasher, rufous-sided towhee,
northern mockingbird, black-capped chickadee, red-cockaded woodpecker,
starling, cardinal, scarlet tanager, Canada goose, herring gull,
whimbrel, quail, and thrushes [108,157,160].
  • 17.  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]
  • 30.  Bramble, W. C.; Goddard, M. K. 1943. Seasonal browsing of woody plants        by white-tailed deer in the bear oak forest type. Journal of Forestry.        41(7): 471-475.  [3298]
  • 70.  Hall, I. V.; Aalders, L. E.; Barker, W. G. 1964. A preliminary        investigation of factors limiting lowbush blueberry production on Cape        Breton Island. Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 44: 491-492.  [9121]
  • 71.  Hall, I. V.; Aalders, L. E.; McRae, K. B. 1982. Lowbush blueberry        production in eastern Canada as related to certain weather data.        Canadian Journal of Plant Science. 62(3): 809-812.  [9160]
  • 72.  Hall, Ivan V.; Aalders, Lewis E.; Nickerson, Nancy L.; Vander Kloet, Sam        P. 1979. The biological flora of Canada. I. Vaccinium angustifolium        Ait., sweet lowbush blueberry. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 93(4):        415-430.  [9185]
  • 85.  Irwin, Larry L. 1985. Foods of moose, Alces alces, and white-tailed        deer, Odocoileus virginianus, on a burn in boreal forest. Canadian        Field-Naturalist. 99(2): 240-245.  [4513]
  • 99.  Krefting, Laurits W.; Ahlgren, Clifford E. 1974. Small mammals and        vegetation changes after fire in a mixed conifer-hardwood forest.        Ecology. 55: 1391-1398.  [9874]
  • 100.  Krefting, Laurits W.; Roe, Eugene I. 1949. The role of some birds and        mammals in seed germination. Ecological Monographs. 19(3): 269-286.        [8847]
  • 108.  Martin, Alexander C.; Zim, Herbert S.; Nelson, Arnold L. 1951. American        wildlife and plants. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 500 p.        [4021]
  • 112.  Newton, Michael; Cole, Elizabeth C.; Lautenschlager, R. A.; [and        others]
  • 124.  Rogers, Robert. 1974. Blueberries. In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M.,        compilers. Shrubs and vines for northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep.        NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,        Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 12-15.  [14073]
  • 131.  Sharp, Ward M. 1971. The role of fire in ruffed grouse habitat        management. In: Proceedings, Tall Timbers fire ecology conference; 1970        August 20-21; Fredericton, NB. No. 10. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers        Research Station: 47-61.  [11120]
  • 132.  Shubat, Deborah Jo. 1983. Management of native lowbush blueberry for        recreational picking in northeastern Minnesota. Minneapolis, MN:        University of Minnesota. 79 p. Thesis.  [10480]
  • 157.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1988. The genus Vaccinium in North America.        Publication 1828. Ottawa: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 201 p.        [11436]
  • 158.  Vander Kloet, S. P.; Austin-Smith, P. J. 1986. Energetics, patterns and        timing of seed dispersal in Vaccinium section Cyanococcus. American        Midland Naturalist. 115: 386-396.  [12523]
  • 160.  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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Uses

Berries are edible. (Hultman, 1978) Berries are sweet and edible. (Peattie, 1930) Native American uses include the following. Infusion of leaves given to infants for colic, used by women after a miscarriage, and as a blood purifier. Infusion of roots used by women to induce labor. Fruits eaten for food in a variety of preparations and used ceremonially by those desiring health and prosperity for the coming season. (UM, 2009)

Fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, natural sugars, niacin, and manganese. The berries are relatively high in carbohydrates and soluble solids but contain little sodium or fat. Fruit averages approximately 41 calories per 0.5 cup, with sugar concentration ranging from 0.03 to 0.34 percent. Accordingly the overall nutrient value is rated as moderately low. (USDA FEIS, 1991)

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Wikipedia

Vaccinium angustifolium

Vaccinium angustifolium, commonly known as the Lowbush Blueberry, is a species of blueberry native to eastern and central Canada and the northeastern United States, growing as far south as West Virginia and west to the Great Lakes region, Minnesota and Manitoba. [1]

Etymology[edit]

The species name angustifolium is a combination of the Latin words angusti meaning 'narrow', and folium meaning 'leaf'. It shares this name with other species of plant including Epilobium angustifolium.

Description[edit]

V. angustifolium growing in a forest of another fire-adapted species, Pinus banksiana

Vaccinium angustifolium is a low spreading deciduous shrub growing to 60 cm tall, though usually 35 cm tall or less. The leaves are glossy blue-green in summer, turning purple in the fall. The leaf shape is broad to elliptical. Buds are brownish red in stem axils. The flowers are white, bell-shaped, 5 mm long. The fruit is a small sweet dark blue to black berry. This plant grows best in wooded or open areas with well-drained acidic soils. In some areas it produces natural blueberry barrens, where it is practically the only species covering large areas.

The Vaccinium angustifolium plant is fire-tolerant and its numbers often increase in an area following a forest fire. Traditionally, blueberry growers burn their fields every few years to get rid of shrubs and fertilize the soil. In Acadian French, a blueberry field is known as a "brûlis" (from brûlé, burnt) because of that technique, which is still in use.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The native plant Lowbush Blueberry is also grown commercially in Canada, Maine, and Massachusetts, mainly harvested from managed wild patches. It is also a favorite of recreational berry pickers, black bears, rodents and birds. The Lowbush Blueberry is the state fruit of Maine.

Production[edit]

Picking blueberries by a blueberry tractor at a blueberry farm in New Brunswick, Canada

In 2006, production of wild blueberries in Quebec has reached 70 million pounds. From this, 55 million were produced from the specially equipped blueberry farm (Bleuetière), and 15 million were collected in the forest. The vast majority of blueberries, or 67.5 million pounds, has been marketed under various processed forms, and particularly in the form of frozen wild blueberries.

Pruning[edit]

Native Americans regularly burnt away trees and shrubs in parts of eastern Maine, in order to stimulate blueberry production. Modern farmers use various methods of burning or mowing to accomplish this. [2]

References[edit]

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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Comments: Includes the plants long known as Vaccinium pensilvanicum. Diploid plants of similar appearance are classified as a distinct species, Vaccinium boreale.

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More info for the terms: bog, natural

The currently accepted scientific name of low sweet blueberry is
Vaccinium angustifolium Ait. (Ericaceae) [77,93]. Autopolyploidy and
allopolyploidy are common in Vaccinium spp. [137] and contribute to the
taxonomic complexity of this group [34]. Most researchers recognize low
sweet blueberry as a single, highly polymorphic, species. Thus, earlier
treatments that recognized many varieties and forms of low sweet
blueberry are now considered misleading and inappropriate [157].

Low sweet blueberry hybridizes with many species, including highbush
blueberry (V. corymbosum), velvetleaf blueberry, bog blueberry (V.
uliginosum), hillside blueberry (V. pallidum), ground blueberry (V.
myrsinites), downy blueberry (V. atrococcum), and V. caesariense
[34,150,155,157]. Interspecific hybrid swarms have been reported [137].
The entity formerly known as V. angustifolium var. hypolasium Fernald
(var. integrefolium Leepage) may be a natural hybrid of velvetleaf
blueberry, sweet hurt's blueberry (Vaccinium boreale), and low sweet
blueberry [137]. Hybrids of low sweet blueberry and highbush blueberry
have been designated as V. atlanticum Bicknell [150].
  • 34.  Camp, W. H. 1945. The North American blueberries with notes on other        groups of Vacciniaceae. Brittonia. 5(3): 203-275.  [9515]
  • 77.  Hancock, James F.; Draper, Arlen D. 1989. Blueberry culture in North        America. HortScience. 24(4): 551-556.  [9513]
  • 93.  Kautz, Edward W. 1987. Prescribed fire in blueberry management. Fire        Management Notes. 48(3): 9-12.  [9848]
  • 137.  Smith, D. W. 1969. A taximetric study of Vaccinium in northeastern        Ontario. Canadian Journal of Botany. 47: 1747-1759.  [9193]
  • 150.  Uttal, Leonard J. 1987. The Genus Vaccinium L. (Ericaceae) in Virginia.        Castanea. 52(4): 231-255.  [6240]
  • 157.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1988. The genus Vaccinium in North America.        Publication 1828. Ottawa: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 201 p.        [11436]
  • 155.  Vander Kloet, S. P. 1983. The taxonomy of Vaccinium and cyanococcus: a        summation. Canadian Journal of Botany. 61 1: 256-266.  [9009]

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Common Names

low sweet blueberry

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