Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

General: Huckleberry Family (Ericaceae). Black huckleberry is an erect, deciduous shrub 0.1-2 m tall. The leaves, up to 5 cm long, are elliptical with a long pointed tip and a finely serrated margin. The bell-shaped flowers are creamy-pink, and are found singly on the underside of the twigs. The berries are large, spherical, sweet, and dark purple or black. In some forms the berries are covered with a waxy bloom; others have shiny dark berries.

Distribution: For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site. Black huckleberry is found in thickets and on Montana slopes in coniferous woods at elevations from 1000-1800 m. It grows in sandy or gravelly soils, ranging from moist to dry growing conditions. Vaccinium membranaceum grows from British Columbia to Alberta and Ontario, north to the Mackenzie Delta area, south to California in the Klamath Range and North Coast Range, and east to Michigan.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & Oregon Plant Materials Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Alternative names

Thinleaf huckleberry

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & Oregon Plant Materials Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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Regional Distribution in the Western United States

More info on this topic.

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

BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS [16]:

1 Northern Pacific Border

2 Cascade Mountains

4 Sierra Mountains

5 Columbia Plateau

8 Northern Rocky Mountains

9 Middle Rocky Mountains

10 Wyoming Basin

12 Colorado Plateau
  • 16. Bernard, Stephen R.; Brown, Kenneth F. 1977. Distribution of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians by BLM physiographic regions and A.W. Kuchler's associations for the eleven western states. Tech. Note 301. Denver, CO: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Management. 169 p. [434]

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Occurrence in North America


AKCACOIDMTMI
ORSDUTWAWY

AB BCONMBSK YK

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Big huckleberry is found in Alaska and British Columbia south through the Cascade and Olympic mountains to California and east to Ontario, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Minnesota [12,40,60,75,76,159,162]. Populations also occur in 3 counties of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan on the east side of Lake Superior [159]. The Plants database provides a distributional map of big huckleberry in the United States.
  • 40. Dorn, Robert D. 1988. Vascular plants of Wyoming. Cheyenne, WY: Mountain West Publishing. 340 p. [6129]
  • 12. Barclay-Estrup, P. 1987. A new shrub for Ontario: mountain bilberry, Vaccinium membranaceum, in Pukaskwa National Park. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 101(4): 526-531. [6233]
  • 60. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p. [1603]
  • 75. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1973. Flora of the Pacific Northwest. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 730 p. [1168]
  • 76. Hulten, Eric. 1968. Flora of Alaska and neighboring territories. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 1008 p. [13403]
  • 159. Voss, Edward G. 1996. Michigan flora. Part III: Dicots (Pyrolaceae--Compositae). Cranbrook Institute of Science Bulletin 61/University of Michigan Herbarium. Ann Arbor, MI: The Regents of the University of Michigan. 622 p. [30401]
  • 162. Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. The Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p. [2944]

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the term: shrub

Big huckleberry is a native, rhizomatous, frost-tolerant [20] shrub with stems ranging from 12 to 47 inches (30-120 cm) in height [64,74,106,162]. Leaves are alternate, elliptic to oblong [79], and small, ranging from 0.7 to 2.75 inches (1.8-7 cm) long [74,162]. Roots may penetrate to 39.4 inches (100 cm) of soil. Rhizomes are usually found within the 3.15 to 11.8 inch (8-30 cm) range of a soil profile [109]. Largent and others [91] observed a minor occurrence of mycorrhizal symbiosis.
  • 74. Hickman, James C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1400 p. [21992]
  • 20. Brockway, Dale G.; Topik, Christopher; Hemstrom, Miles A.; Emmingham, William H. 1985. Plant association and management guide for the Pacific silver fir zone: Gifford Pinchot National Forest. R6-Ecol-130a. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 122 p. [525]
  • 64. Haeussler, S.; Coates, D.; Mather J. 1990. Autecology of common plants in British Columbia: A literature review. Economic and Regional Development Agreement FRDA Rep. 158. Victoria, BC: Forestry Canada, Pacific Forestry Centre; British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Research Branch. 272 p. [18034]
  • 79. Hunn, Eugene S.; Norton, Helen H. 1984. Impact of Mt. St. Helens ashfall on fruit yields of mountain huckleberry, Vaccinium membranaceum, important Native American food. Economic Botany. 38(1): 121-127. [9501]
  • 91. Largent, David L.; Sugihara, Neil; Wishner, Carl. 1980. Occurrence of mycorrhizae on ericaceous and pyrolaceous plants in northern California. Canadian Journal of Botany. 58: 2274-2279. [35868]
  • 106. Miller, Melanie. 1977. Response of blue huckleberry to prescribed fires in a western Montana larch-fir forest. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-188. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 33 p. [6334]
  • 109. Minore, Don. 1975. Observations on the rhizomes and roots of Vaccinium membranaceum. Res. Note PNW-261. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 5 p. [4879]
  • 162. Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. The Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p. [2944]

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Type Information

Isotype for Vaccinium coccineum Piper
Catalog Number: US 887598
Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany
Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined
Preparation: Pressed specimen
Collector(s): M. W. Gorman
Year Collected: 1917
Locality: Steve Peak., Josephine, Oregon, United States, North America
Elevation (m): 1585 to 1585
  • Isotype: Piper, C. V. 1918. Proc. Biol. Soc. Wash. 31: 75.
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany

Source: National Museum of Natural History Collections

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat characteristics

More info for the terms: competition, cover, mesic, presence

Big huckleberry has wide ecological amplitude [108], occupying moist, moderately deep, well-drained soils [64,120]. Big huckleberry is found on moderate slopes or benches, rocky hillsides, and avalanche chutes [65,98,122,148]. Big huckleberry is rarely found in valley bottoms [82]. As an understory species, big huckleberry can grow beneath a partially closed forest canopy, or in sunny openings [54,64]. Big huckleberry has greatest potential on cool mesic sites with minimal overstory [32].

Soils: Big huckleberry prefers soils with a pH around 5.5 [111]. Clay and silt content are usually low (under 40%) leaving soil with a fine, loamy texture [138]. Relatively low concentrations of essential elements are required to sustain growth. Mesic and drier sites are preferred, although big huckleberry may inhabit soils with a wide range of available moisture [64].

In Montana, Goldin And Nimlos [58] evaluated big huckleberry presence in the Garnet Mountains in relation to soil physical properties. Big huckleberry prefers quartzite and granitic soils to limestone-derived soils possessing similar pH and gravel content. Quartzite soils resulted in the greatest coverage of big huckleberry, compared to granite and limestone derived soils:

  Relative Cover (%)
Limestone

1

Granite

9

Quartzite

16


  Quartzite  Limestone Granite
Average organic horizon thickness (cm) 4.0 2.3 4.0
Soil texture loam silty loam sandy loam
Gravel content very gravelly gravelly to very gravelly slightly gravelly
pH 5.7-6.9 6.5-8.0 5.5-6.5
Calcareousness none at surface, slight to strong at depth slight to strong on surface, strong at depth none

Within sites, big huckleberry grew under Douglas-fir on limestone, limber pine on quartzite and subalpine fir on granite.

Aspect/Slope: Big huckleberry prefers northern aspects [92] although populations may exist on all aspects [99]. Martin [99] observed big huckleberry to prefer moderate to steep slopes (25-40%). Gentle slopes were found to allow greater competition from other plant species.

Elevation: Elevation by geographic area is :

California [74] 3,609 to 7,217 feet (1,100-2,200 m)
Montana 3,000 to 9,650 feet (914-2,930 m)
Oregon and Washington [138] 3,000 feet (914 m) to high mountains
Utah [162] 8,202 to 10,318 feet (2,500-3,145 m) 
  • 74. Hickman, James C., ed. 1993. The Jepson manual: Higher plants of California. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. 1400 p. [21992]
  • 32. Dahlgreen, Matthew Craig. 1984. Observations on the ecology of Vaccinium membranaceum Dougl. on the southeast slope of the Washington Cascades. Seattle, WA: University of Washington. 120 p. Thesis. [2131]
  • 54. French, David. 1999. Aboriginal control of huckleberry yield in the Northwest. In: Boyd, Robert, ed. Indians, fire, and the land in the Pacific Northwest. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University: 31-49. [35566]
  • 58. Goldin, A.; Nimlos, T. J. 1977. Vegetation patterns on limestone and acid parent materials in the Garnet Mountains of western Montana. Northwest Science. 51(3): 149-160. [10675]
  • 64. Haeussler, S.; Coates, D.; Mather J. 1990. Autecology of common plants in British Columbia: A literature review. Economic and Regional Development Agreement FRDA Rep. 158. Victoria, BC: Forestry Canada, Pacific Forestry Centre; British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Research Branch. 272 p. [18034]
  • 65. Hall, Frederick C. 1973. Plant communities of the Blue Mountains in eastern Oregon and southeastern Washington. R6-Area Guide 3-1. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 82 p. [1059]
  • 82. Johnson, Leslie Main. 1999. Aboriginal burning for vegetation management in northwest British Columbia. In: Boyd, Robert, ed. Indians, fire and the land in the Pacific Northwest. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press: 238-254. [35576]
  • 92. Laursen, Steven B. 1984. Predicting shrub community composition and structure following management disturbance in forest ecosystems of the Intermountain West. Moscow, ID: University of Idaho. 261 p. Dissertation. [6717]
  • 98. Mace, Richard D.; Bissell, Gael N. 1986. Grizzly bear food resources in the flood plains and avalanche chutes of the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Montana. In: Contreras, Glen P.; Evans, Keith E., compilers. Proceedings--grizzly bear habitat symposium; 1985 April 30 - May 2; Missoula, MT. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-207. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 78-91. [10812]
  • 99. 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]
  • 108. Minore, Don. 1972. The wild huckleberries of Oregon and Washington -- a dwindling resource. PNW-143. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 20 p. [8952]
  • 111. Minore, Don; Dubrasich, Michael E. 1978. Big huckleberry abundance as related to environment and associated vegetation near Mount Adams, Washington. Research Note PNW-322. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 8 p. [1661]
  • 120. Orme, Mark L.; Leege, Thomas A. 1976. Emergence and survival of redstem (Ceanothus sanguineus) following prescribed burning. In: Proceedings, Tall Timbers fire ecology conference and fire and land management symposium; 1974 October 8-10; Missoula, Montana. No. 14. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 391-420. [6273]
  • 122. Patten, Robin S.; Knight, Dennis H. 1994. Snow avalanches and vegetation pattern in Cascade Canyon, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming, U.S.A. Arctic and Alpine Research. 26(1): 35-41. [23684]
  • 138. Stark, N.; Baker, Stephen. 1992. The ecology and culture of Montana huckleberries: A guide for growers and researchers. Miscellaneous Publication 52. Missoula, MT: The University of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station. 87 p. [17878]
  • 148. Stephens, H. A. 1973. Woody plants of the North Central Plains. Lawrence, KS: The University Press of Kansas. 530 p. [3804]
  • 162. Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. The Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p. [2944]

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Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the terms: association, climax, codominant, mesic, phase, shrub, succession, tree

Depending upon environmental constraints/conditions, big huckleberry
may occur as a dominant understory species with Engelmann spruce
(Picea engelmannii), western larch (Larix occidentalis),
limber pine (Pinus flexilis), ponderosa pine (P. ponderosa),
lodgepole pine (P. contorta) [9,123], western white pine (P. monticola),
western hemlock
(Tsuga heterophylla) [123], and mountain hemlock (T. mertensiana)
[51]. Pacific silver fir (Abies amabilis), subalpine fir (A. lasiocarpa), noble fir (A. procera),
white fir (A. concolor), grand fir (A. grandis), Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga
menziesii),
and western redcedar (Thuja plicata) [163] and  are also dominant overstory species [49,63].


Common shrub associates include sticky flowering currant (Ribes viscosissimum),
mountain snowberry (Symphoricarpos oreophilus) [9,24], common snowberry
(S. albus), grouse whortleberry (Vaccinium scoparium), Cascade bilberry (V. deliciosum),
red huckleberry
(V. parvifolium) [20], Utah honeysuckle
(Lonicera utahensis), bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) [9],
fool's huckleberry (Menziesia ferruginea) [9,42]. Other common shrub
associates include white spirea
(Spirea betulifolia) [123,142], whiteveined wintergreen
(Pyrola picta) [20], pink mountainheath (Phyllodoce empetriformis),
Cascade azalea (Rhododendron albiflorum), Sitka mountain-ash
(Sorbus sitchensis),  western moss-heather (Cassiope mertensiana), strawberryleaf raspberry
(Rubus pedatus), roughfruit berry (R. lasiococcus) [42], little
prince's pine (Chimaphila menziesii) [11], Rocky Mountain maple (Acer glabrum) [46,89], Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii) [120], and Oregon-grape
(Mahonia repens) [11].

Forb associates include common beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) [9,20,24],
Brewer's aster (Chrysopsis breweri) [9,24], pinewoods lousewort
(Pedicularis semibarbata) [24], fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium),
Sitka valerian (Valeriana sitchensis) [42], queencup beadlily
(Clintonia uniflora) [20], twinflower (Linnaea borealis), lupine
(Lupinus spp.) [3], Pacific trillium (Trillium ovatum),
and threeleaf foamflower (Tiarella trifoliata) [20].


Pacific Northwest:
Big huckleberry is well represented in subalpine habitats [14,53,112]. In mesic
subalpine communities, big huckleberry is a common understory associate of Pacific silver fir and mountain hemlock [51]. Big huckleberry is an important
understory component of subalpine fir forests in the eastern Olympic Mountains,
Washington [50]. Within the Cascades of Oregon and Washington,
big huckleberry frequently occurs on dry subalpine sites with beargrass [53,112].

Big huckleberry is a dominant species within fir/hemlock (Abies spp/Tsuga
spp)
stands in the Cascade Mountains, understory to Pacific silver fir, noble fir,
mountain hemlock, Douglas-fir, western white pine, and western redcedar [163].
Within fir/hemlock (Tsuga spp) understory communities in the Cascades of southern Washington,
big huckleberry is often codominant with common beargrass [53].

Big huckleberry is associated with cool western hemlock zones in the Mount Hood
National Forest, Oregon. It occupies a dominant understory status in the coldest,
driest portions of the western hemlock zone. When overstories are dominated by Douglas-fir and western hemlock,
common associates include little prince's pine and Oregon-grape [66].

Stewart [149] compared understory composition of Douglas-fir and western hemlock
stands in the west-central Cascade Range. Both stands were found on a southeast
aspect at 3,740 feet (1,140 m) with a 15% slope. Fire history, mean tree age, and
mean tree height were similar. Differences were in frequency
of canopy gaps: Douglas-fir at 9.3% and western hemlock at 1.3%. Big huckleberry
was more frequent and had greater coverage (p<0.05) in Douglas-fir stands:

 Western hemlockDouglas-fir
Frequency (%)1844
Cover (%)< 13.3


Rocky Mountain Region:
Big huckleberry is a dominant shrub species in subalpine fir forests of northern
Utah. Subalpine fir/big huckleberry habitat types are also described for
south-central and southwestern Montana, eastern Idaho, and western Wyoming [100].

In Montana big huckleberry is a major undergrowth component in pole stage
or older stands of Douglas-fir and subalpine fir [9]. Big huckleberry is an
understory component of mountain hemlock communities in western Montana, in
association with common beargrass, grouse whortleberry and fool's huckleberry [61].

Big huckleberry is an important shrub species in climax Douglas-fir/ninebark
(Physocarpus spp.) habitat type, ponderosa pine phase in west-central
Idaho, and in the Rocky Mountain maple phase of Douglas-fir/Rocky Mountain maple habitat types
[146].

Big huckleberry is a frequently occurring understory species within the grand fir
mosaic of northern Idaho [49]. Big huckleberry is uncommon in grand fir/Douglas-fir
stands in Montana and Idaho below 3,937 feet (1,200 m) and common in higher elevations.
Big huckleberry is a major understory species for grand
fir/western redcedar stands when grand fir is dominant, and almost unrepresented
below where western redcedar is dominant. Big huckleberry is
common in intermediate aged stands of subalpine fir and limber pine on open
slopes and within mature stands on mesic sites
[63].

In general, big huckleberry is dominant to grouse whortleberry at lower-elevation
subalpine fir habitats. At mid- and higher elevations, big huckleberry is generally
subordinate to grouse whortleberry, although representation is sometimes about equal [96].

Published classifications listing big huckleberry as an indicator or dominant species
are listed below:
Forest types of the North Cascades National Park Service Complex [3]

Preliminary plant associations of the southern Oregon Cascade Mountain Province [10]

Preliminary plant associations of the Siskiyou Mountain Province [11]

Plant association and management guide for the Pacific silver fir zone: Gifford
Pinchot National Forest [20]

Forest habitat types of northern Idaho: a second approximation [29]

Classification of montane forest community types in Cedar River Drainage of
western Washington, USA [36]

Subalpine plant communities of western North Cascades, Washington [41]

The forest communities of Mount Rainier National Park [52]

Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington [51]

Plant communities of the Blue Mountains in eastern Oregon and southeastern
Washington [65]

Plant association and management guide for the western hemlock zone: Mount Hood [67]

Plant association and management guide: Willamette National Forest [72]

Forested plant associations of the Olympic National Forest [73]

Plant associations of the Walloma-Snake Province: Walloma-Whitman National Forest[94]

Forest habitat types of Montana [123]

Climax vegetation of Montana based on soils and climate [129]

Forest habitat types of eastern Idaho-western Wyoming [143]

The grand fir/blue huckleberry habitat type in central Idaho: succession and management [144]

Forest habitat types of central Idaho [147]

Plant association and management guide for the grand fir zone, Gifford Pinchot National Forest [155]

  • 9. Arno, Stephen F.; Simmerman, Dennis G.; Keane, Robert E. 1985. Forest succession on four habitat types in western Montana. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-177. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 74 p. [349]
  • 51. Franklin, Jerry F.; Dyrness, C. T. 1973. Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-8. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 417 p. [961]
  • 3. Agee, James K.; Kertis, Jane. 1987. Forest types of the North Cascades National Park Service Complex. Canadian Journal of Botany. 65: 1520-1530. [6327]
  • 10. Atzet, Thomas; McCrimmon, Lisa A. 1990. Preliminary plant associations of the southern Oregon Cascade Mountain province. Grants Pass, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Siskiyou National Forest. 330 p. [12977]
  • 11. Atzet, Thomas; Wheeler, David L. 1984. Preliminary plant associations of the Siskiyou Mountain province. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 278 p. [9351]
  • 14. Barrett, Stephen W.; Arno, Stephen F. 1999. Indian fires in the Northern Rockies: Ethnohistory and ecology. In: Boyd, Robert, ed. Indians, fire, and the land in the Pacific Northwest. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University: 50-64. [35568]
  • 20. Brockway, Dale G.; Topik, Christopher; Hemstrom, Miles A.; Emmingham, William H. 1985. Plant association and management guide for the Pacific silver fir zone: Gifford Pinchot National Forest. R6-Ecol-130a. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 122 p. [525]
  • 24. Clary, Warren P. 1983. Overstory-understory relationships: spruce-fir forests. In: Bartlett, E. T.; Betters, David R., eds. Overstory-understory relationships in western forests. Western Regional Research Publication No. 1. Fort Collins, CO: Colorado State University, Agriculture Experiment Station: 9-12. [3310]
  • 36. del Moral, Roger; Long, James N. 1977. Classification of montane forest community types in the Cedar River drainage of western Washington, U.S.A. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 7: 217-225. [8778]
  • 41. Douglas, George W. 1972. Subalpine plant communities of the western North Cascades, Washington. Arctic and Alpine Research. 4(2): 147-166. [9960]
  • 42. Douglas, George Wayne. 1970. A vegetation study in the subalpine zone of the western North Cascades, Washington. Seattle, WA: University of Washington. 293 p. Thesis. [8560]
  • 46. Elzinga, Caryl L.; Shearer, Raymond C. 1997. Vegetation structure in old-growth stands in the Coram Research Natural Area in northwestern Montana. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-GRT-364. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 22 p. [27446]
  • 49. Ferguson, Dennis E.; Johnson, Frederic D. 1996. Classification of grand fir mosaic habitats. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-GTR-337. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 16 p. [26902]
  • 50. Fonda, R. W.; Bliss, L. C. 1969. Forest vegetation of the montane and subalpine zones, Olympic Mountains, Washington. Ecological Monographs. 39(3): 271-301. [12909]
  • 53. Franklin, Jerry Forest. 1966. Vegetation and soils in the subalpine forests of the southern Washington Cascade Range. Pullman, WA: Washington State University. 132 p. Thesis. [10392]
  • 61. Habeck, James R. 1967. Mountain hemlock communities in western Montana. Northwest Science. 41(4): 169-177. [7258]
  • 63. Habeck, James R. 1976. Forests, fuels, and fire in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, Idaho. In: Proceedings, Tall Timbers fire ecology conference and fire and land management symposium; 1974 October 8-10; Missoula, MT. No. 14. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 305-353. [8185]
  • 65. Hall, Frederick C. 1973. Plant communities of the Blue Mountains in eastern Oregon and southeastern Washington. R6-Area Guide 3-1. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 82 p. [1059]
  • 66. Halverson, Nancy M.; Emmingham, William H. 1982. Reforestation in the Cascades Pacific silver fir zone: A survey of sites and management experiences on the Gifford Pinchot, Mt. Hood and Willamette National Forests. R-6 Regional Area Guide R6-ECOL-091-1982. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 37 p. [12491]
  • 67. Halverson, Nancy M.; Topik, Christopher; Van Vickle, Robert. 1986. Plant association and management guide for the western hemlock zone: Mt. Hood National Forest. R6-ECOL-232A. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 111 p. [1068]
  • 72. Hemstrom, Miles A.; Logan, Sheila E.; Pavlat, Warren. 1987. Plant association and management guide: Willamette National Forest. R6-Ecol 257-B-86. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 312 p. [13402]
  • 73. Henderson, Jan A.; Peter, David H.; Lesher, Robin D.; Shaw, David C. 1989. Forested plant associations of the Olympic National Forest. R6-ECOL-TP 001-88. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 502 p. [23405]
  • 89. Kramer, Neal B.; Johnson, Frederic D. 1987. Mature forest seed banks of three habitat types in central Idaho. Canadian Journal of Botany. 65: 1961-1966. [3961]
  • 94. Lillybridge, Terry R.; Kovalchik, Bernard L.; Williams, Clinton K.; Smith, Bradley G. 1995. Field guide for forested plant associations of the Wenatchee National Forest. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-359. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 335 p. In cooperation with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region, Wenatchee National Forest. [29851]
  • 96. Lyon, L. Jack. 1976. Vegetal development on the Sleeping Child burn in western Montana, 1961 to 1973. Res. Pap. INT-184. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 24 p. [138]
  • 100. Mauk, Ronald L.; Henderson, Jan A. 1984. Coniferous forest habitat types of northern Utah. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-170. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 89 p. [1553]
  • 112. Minore, Don; Smart, Alan W. 1975. Sweetness of huckleberries near Mount Adams, Washington. PNW-248. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 4 p. [12489]
  • 120. Orme, Mark L.; Leege, Thomas A. 1976. Emergence and survival of redstem (Ceanothus sanguineus) following prescribed burning. In: Proceedings, Tall Timbers fire ecology conference and fire and land management symposium; 1974 October 8-10; Missoula, Montana. No. 14. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 391-420. [6273]
  • 123. Pfister, Robert D.; Kovalchik, Bernard L.; Arno, Stephen F.; Presby, Richard C. 1977. Forest habitat types of Montana. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-34. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 174 p. [1878]
  • 129. Ross, Robert L.; Hunter, Harold E. 1976. Climax vegetation of Montana: Based on soils and climate. Bozeman, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 64 p. [2028]
  • 142. Steele, Robert. 1984. An approach to classifying seral vegetation within habitat types. Northwest Science. 58(1): 29-39. [2227]
  • 144. Steele, Robert; Geier-Hayes, Kathleen. 1987. The grand fir/blue huckleberry habitat type in central Idaho: succession and management. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-228. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 66 p. [8133]
  • 146. Steele, Robert; Geier-Hayes, Kathleen. 1995. Major Douglas-fir habitat types of central Idaho: a summary of succession and management. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-GTR-331. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 23 p. [29363]
  • 147. Steele, Robert; Pfister, Robert D.; Ryker, Russell A.; Kittams, Jay A. 1981. Forest habitat types of central Idaho. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-114. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 138 p. [2231]
  • 149. Stewart, G. H. 1988. The influence of canopy cover on understory development in forests of the western Cascade Range, Oregon, USA. Vegetatio. 76: 79-88. [6631]
  • 155. Topik, Christopher. 1989. Plant association and management guide for the grand fir zone, Gifford Pinchot National Forest. R6-Ecol-TP-006-88. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Region. 110 p. [11361]
  • 163. Williams, Carroll B.; Dyrness, C. T. 1967. Some characteristics of forest floors and soils under true fir-hemlock stands in the Cascade Range. PNW-37. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 19 p. [8181]
  • 29. Cooper, Stephen V.; Neiman, Kenneth E.; Roberts, David W. 1991 [Revised]. Forest habitat types of northern Idaho: a second approximation. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-236. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 143 p. [14792]
  • 52. Franklin, Jerry F.; Moir, William H.; Hemstrom, Miles A.; [and others]. 1988. The forest communities of Mount Rainier National Park. Scientific Monograph Series No 19. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. 194 p. [12393]
  • 143. Steele, Robert; Cooper, Stephen V.; Ondov, David M.; [and others]. 1983. Forest habitat types of eastern Idaho-western Wyoming. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-144. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 122 p. [2230]

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Habitat: Rangeland Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following Rangeland Cover Types (as classified by the Society for Range Management, SRM):

More info for the term: cover

SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES [134]:

109 Ponderosa pine shrubland

110 Ponderosa pine-grassland

409 Tall forb

410 Alpine rangeland
  • 134. Shiflet, Thomas N., ed. 1994. Rangeland cover types of the United States. Denver, CO: Society for Range Management. 152 p. [23362]

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Habitat: Cover Types

More info on this topic.

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

More info for the term: cover

SAF COVER TYPES [47]:


12 Black spruce

22 White pine-hemlock

201 White spruce

205 Mountain hemlock

206 Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir

207 Red fir

208 Whitebark pine

209 Bristlecone pine

210 Interior Douglas-fir

211 White fir

212 Western larch

213 Grand fir

215 Western white pine

217 Aspen

218 Lodgepole pine

219 Limber pine

224 Western hemlock

225 Western hemlock-Sitka spruce

226 Coastal true fir-hemlock

227 Western redcedar-western hemlock

228 Western redcedar

229 Pacific Douglas-fir

230 Douglas-fir-western hemlock

232 Redwood

237 Interior ponderosa pine

244 Pacific ponderosa pine-Douglas-fir

243 Sierra Nevada mixed conifer

245 Pacific ponderosa pine
  • 47. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905]

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Habitat: Plant Associations

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

More info for the term: shrub

KUCHLER [90] PLANT ASSOCIATIONS:

K001 Spruce-cedar-hemlock forest

K002 Cedar-hemlock-Douglas-fir forest

K003 Silver fir-Douglas-fir forest

K004 Fir-hemlock forest

K005 Mixed conifer forest

K008 Lodgepole pine-subalpine forest

K010 Ponderosa shrub forest

K011 Western ponderosa forest

K012 Douglas-fir forest

K013 Cedar-hemlock-pine forest

K014 Grand fir-Douglas-fir forest

K015 Western spruce-fir forest

K017 Black Hills pine forest

K018 Pine-Douglas-fir forest

K020 Spruce-fir-Douglas-fir forest

K052 Alpine meadows and barren

K093 Great Lakes spruce-fir forest
  • 90. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. United States [Potential natural vegetation of the conterminous United States]. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 1:3,168,000; colored. [3455]

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Habitat: Ecosystem

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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):

ECOSYSTEMS [56]:

FRES11 Spruce-fir

FRES20 Douglas-fir

FRES21 Ponderosa pine

FRES22 Western white pine

FRES23 Fir-spruce

FRES24 Hemlock-Sitka spruce

FRES25 Larch

FRES26 Lodgepole pine

FRES27 Redwood

FRES28 Western hardwoods

FRES37 Mountain meadows

FRES44 Alpine
  • 56. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; Lewis, Mont E.; Smith, Dixie R. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 68 p. [998]

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Dispersal

Establishment

Black huckleberry requires moist and acidic soils to become established. Vaccinium membranaceum is very difficult to establish.

Cuttings: Take cuttings from rhizomes in early spring or late summer and autumn. Dig up the rhizomes and cut them into lengths of 10 cm or longer. Place the cuttings in vermiculite at 21 °C. Once the roots are established and meristematic activity is initiated, the small cuttings may be moved to individual pots with a peat:sand soil mixture (1:1) potting soil. The soil should be kept fairly moist. When plants are the size desired, plant in soils that are fairly acidic, or add the peat-sand mixture to the soil before planting. Plants must be kept well watered to become established. Plants establish well in partial shade.

Seeds: Collect the berries in the fall and clean by running them through a blender with dull blades, straining the pulp with a sieve, and spreading them to dry on a paper towel. Most authors believe that the seeds require no stratification or scarification (Haeussler et al. 1990; Link 1993; Minore and Smart 1978). However, Albright (1996) found poor germination without stratification and recommends over-wintering of seeds in flats outside. Seeds germinate within 16-21 days of sowing. Germination percentages can be improved by sowing the seed on moist peat in a growth chamber at 18° C (for 12 hours a day) and 13° C (for 12 hours a day). Seven weeks after germination warm the growth chamber to 20 ° C (for 14 hours a day) and 14° C (for 10 hours a day). Fertilize the seedlings after they are 10 weeks old and transplant into a peat-sand soil mixture (1:1) in individual pots after 12 weeks (Minore and Smart 1978). The soil should be kept fairly moist.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & Oregon Plant Materials Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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General Ecology

Fire Management Considerations

More info for the terms: density, duff, fire exclusion, fire severity, mesic, series, severity, wildfire

In most areas, fire exclusion reduces big huckleberry populations over time. In Washington, a big huckleberry field of 8,000 acres (3,238 ha) within an old burn has diminished to 2,500 acres (1,012 ha), replaced by trees and brush after 40 years of fire exclusion [107]. Repeated low severity burns may control competing vegetation, enhancing big huckleberry vigor [109]. Franklin and Dyrness [51] attribute occurrence of widespread big huckleberry fields within the southern Washington Cascades to large and repeated wildfire.

The Gitxsan and Wet'suwet'en people of northwestern British Columbia used fire to manage big huckleberry fields. Burning typically occurred in the early fall, late August, and September. Late fall burns were specifically chosen to reduce fire severity and spread since fall frontal storm systems were likely to bring precipitation. Elders (women) decided burning time and scheduled fires during times they felt were prior to rainfall. Intervals between burns varied [82]. Sahaptin and Chinook Native Americans started fires in the fall (end of huckleberry season) during periods when winter rains had begun [54].

In habitat types were big huckleberry is dominant, fires conducted when duff is relatively moist and not completely consumed result in heavy resprouts from rhizomes [39,118,127]. Low severity burning may stimulate lateral bud growth similar to pruning and assist in eradication of parasites [118]. Burning that consumes large amounts of duff is most harmful to big huckleberry regeneration [106]. Quantity of heat released by fire and relative amounts of duff and soil moisture are controlling factors [105].

In western Montana, spring burning is recommended to increase big huckleberry density within the Douglas-fir/western larch habitat type, except when lower duff and soil are dry [106]. In moist Douglas-fir habitat types of Montana, where ponderosa pine and lodgepole pine are seral components, low severity burning in the early spring stimulates big huckleberry, increasing shoot density [153]. In the Lolo National Forest, low and moderate severity surface fires increase density and nutrient content of big huckleberry in moist Douglas-fir and cool, dry Douglas-fir habitat types [35]. In the Douglas-fir/big huckleberry habitat type, spring fires and moderate amounts of shade may enhance production of big huckleberry [18].

In the grand fir series of the eastern Cascade Range, 2 consecutive fires in short intervals favor big huckleberry over grand fir, and big huckleberry may share dominance with lodgepole pine after intense fires on moist sites [1]. Dense stands of big huckleberry may not burn if fuels are limited, due to low flammability of big huckleberry foliage [106]. Density of big huckleberry may be increased by low severity surface fires in subalpine fir/big huckleberry habitat type in northern Utah [100].

In sub-boreal spruce zones of British Columbia, postfire sprouting of big huckleberry occurs almost exclusively through rhizomes. Postfire recovery is slow in the 1st 10 years postfire [69]. Likewise, in mesic and drier sites of the sub-boreal spruce zone in Canada, big huckleberry recovers slowly after fire [68].

  • 1. Agee, James K. 1994. Fire and weather disturbances in terrestrial ecosystems of the eastern Cascades. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-320. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 52 p. (Everett, Richard L., assessment team leader; Eastside forest ecosystem health assessment; Hessburg, Paul F., science team leader and tech. ed., Volume III: assessment). [23656]
  • 51. Franklin, Jerry F.; Dyrness, C. T. 1973. Natural vegetation of Oregon and Washington. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-8. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 417 p. [961]
  • 18. Bradley, Anne F.; Fischer, William C.; Noste, Nonan V. 1992. Fire ecology of the forest habitat types of eastern Idaho and western Wyoming. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-290. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 92 p. [19558]
  • 35. Davis, Kathleen M.; Clayton, Bruce D.; Fischer, William C. 1980. Fire ecology of Lolo National Forest habitat types. INT-79. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 77 p. [5296]
  • 39. Donnelly, Steve. 1993. Spring burning by habitat type in relation to artificial restoration. McCall, ID: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Region, Payette National Forest. 19 p. [27626]
  • 54. French, David. 1999. Aboriginal control of huckleberry yield in the Northwest. In: Boyd, Robert, ed. Indians, fire, and the land in the Pacific Northwest. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University: 31-49. [35566]
  • 68. Hamilton, Evelyn H. 1988. Impacts of prescribed burning on soil-vegetation relationships in the sub-boreal spruce zone. In: Feller, M. C.; Thomson, S. M., eds. Wildlife and range prescribed burning workshop proceedings; 1987 October 27-28; Richmond, BC. Vancouver, BC: The University of British Columbia, Faculty of Forestry: 171-184. [3110]
  • 69. Hamilton, Evelyn H.; Yearsley, H. Karen. 1988. Vegetation development after clearcutting and site preparation in the SBS zone. Economic and Regional Development Agreement: FRDA Report 018. Victoria, BC: Canadian Forestry Service, Pacific Forestry Centre; British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Lands. 66 p. [8760]
  • 82. Johnson, Leslie Main. 1999. Aboriginal burning for vegetation management in northwest British Columbia. In: Boyd, Robert, ed. Indians, fire and the land in the Pacific Northwest. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press: 238-254. [35576]
  • 100. Mauk, Ronald L.; Henderson, Jan A. 1984. Coniferous forest habitat types of northern Utah. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-170. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 89 p. [1553]
  • 105. Miller, Melanie. 1976. Shrub sprouting response to fire in a Douglas-fir/western larch ecosystem. Missoula, MT: University of Montana. 124 p. Thesis. [8945]
  • 106. Miller, Melanie. 1977. Response of blue huckleberry to prescribed fires in a western Montana larch-fir forest. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-188. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 33 p. [6334]
  • 107. Miller, Melanie. 1978. Effect of growing season on sprouting of blue huckleberry. Res. Note INT-240. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 8 p. [6333]
  • 109. Minore, Don. 1975. Observations on the rhizomes and roots of Vaccinium membranaceum. Res. Note PNW-261. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 5 p. [4879]
  • 118. Norton, Helen H.; Boyd, Robert; Hunn, Eugene. 1999. The Klikitat Trail of south-central Washington: A reconstruction of seasonally used resource sites. In: Boyd, Robert, ed. Indians, fire, and the land in the Pacific Northwest. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University: 65-93. [35569]
  • 127. Reichert, Chris. 1989. Silviculture in grizzly bear habitat. In: Silviculture for all resources: Proceedings of the national silviculture workshop; 1987 May 11-14; Sacramento, CA. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 48-60. [6398]
  • 153. Stiger, Everett M. 1980. Level I fire management analysis: The fire situation: Lewis and Clark National Forest: Phase I. Great Falls, MT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Helena National Forest. 31 p. [21209]

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Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: adventitious, density, duff, fire exclusion, fire use, litter, prescribed fire, restoration, rhizome, severity, shrubs, wildfire

Low to moderate severity fire:

Big huckleberry showed good vegetative response in lightly
burned areas of western larch/Douglas-fir forests in
western Montana. The same result was seen in moderate fires top-killing the
majority of shrubs and consuming up to half of the litter [141].

A comparison of postfire big huckleberry sprouts was made after spring
(May-June) and fall (September-October) fires at the University of Montana's
Lubrecht Experimental Forest. The number of stems present before burns was closely
related to the number of stems postburn. Spring burns produced a lower
mortality of adventitious buds on rhizomes than fall burns. Moist duff and soil
present during spring burns served as a heat shield. Spring burns causing
rhizome mortality occurred only in areas with duff and soil of low moisture content.
Results summarizing the average stem number/meter2 on 9 sites are presented below
[106]:

Spring Fires:

Before Fire (1973)1974 (yr 1)1975 (yr 2)1973-1974 change in stem # (%)1973-1975 change in stem # (%)
49.5461.6266.2324.3833.69
28.1539.6550.5840.8579.68
23.0828.7739.0824.6569.32
45.7762.8583.2737.381.93
43.0846.6553.858.2925.00
3.3535.5023.08959.7589.96
18.5432.1540.6973.41119.47
27.3839.0047.5842.4473.78
30.1935.4639.8817.4632.10


Fall Fires:

Before Fire (1973)197419751973-1974 change in stem # (%)1973-1975 change in stem # (%)
16.855.6914.35-66.23-14.84
33.1929.8533.81-10.061.87
18.7337.5446.62100.43148.91
34.6538.0847.359.9036.65
97.9692.96117.54-5.1019.99
26.0826.3149.730.8890.68
16.4223.8831.5845.4392.33
12.424.5411.46-63.45-7.73
15.7338.0042.31141.58168.98


Moderate to high severity fire:
Doyle and others [43] evaluated plant species richness 17 years after the
July 17, 1974, Waterfalls Canyon Fire, in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming.
Big huckleberry dominated (30-36% coverage) the understory of adjacent unburned areas
with greatly reduced coverage (approximately 7%) in moderately burned areas and
almost no coverage in severely burned areas. Big huckleberry populations
were greatly reduced the 1st growing season following a high intensity fire
in the Payette River drainage near, Lowman, Idaho [145].

Big huckleberry showed no postfire re-establishment through seed after the
Sundance fire of 1967, a severe burn in northern Idaho [151].

In general, big huckleberry is slow to recover from moderate to high
severity fire. After stand replacing fire in upland Douglas-fir/big
huckleberry sites in Pattee Canyon, west-central Montana, big huckleberry
showed "slow" recovery. In severely burned ravines, big huckleberry sprouted
from rhizomes at depths of 3.5 to 6 inches (9 to 15 cm). Before
effective fire exclusion began in the early 1900s, fire return intervals
in the area averaged 15.8 years [30]. 

Vegetation recovery for big huckleberry after an August wildfire in Sleeping
Child Creek, Bitterroot Valley, Montana was slow; density and crown volume
showed little recovery after 4 postfire years [97]:

Before burn1234
Plants/1,000 feet2113--2.218.428.3
Before burn1234


Crown volume feet3/1,000 feet2
96.9--1.22.55.4


For further information on big huckleberry response to fire, see Fire Case Studies.
Hamilton's Research Papers (Hamilton 2006a, Hamilton 2006b)
and the following Research Project Summaries also provide information on prescribed
fire use and postfire response of plant community species including big huckleberry:
  • 30. Crane, M. F.; Habeck, James R.; Fischer, William C. 1983. Early postfire revegetation in a western Montana Douglas-fir forest. Res. Pap. INT-319. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 29 p. [710]
  • 97. Lyon, L. Jack; Stickney, Peter F. 1966. Two forest fires: and some specific implications in big-game management. Proceedings, Annual Conference of Western Association of Game and Fish Commissioners. 46: 181-193. [17169]
  • 106. Miller, Melanie. 1977. Response of blue huckleberry to prescribed fires in a western Montana larch-fir forest. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-188. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 33 p. [6334]
  • 141. Steele, Robert W.; Stark, Nellie. 1977. Understory burning in larch/Douglas-fir forests as a management tool. Western Wildlands. 4(1): 25-29. [18761]
  • 145. Steele, Robert; Geier-Hayes, Kathleen. 1991. Monitoring the effects of postfire grass seeding on the Lowman Burn. Unpublished first year progress report. 4 p. On file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. [17154]
  • 151. Stickney, Peter F. 1986. First decade plant succession following the Sundance Forest Fire, northern Idaho. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-197. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 26 p. [2255]
  • 43. Doyle, Kathleen M.; Knight, Dennis H.; Taylor, Dale L.; [and others]. 1998. Seventeen years of forest succession following the Waterfalls Canyon Fire in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. International Journal of Wildland Fire. 8(1): 45-55. [29072]

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: density, root crown, severity, wildfire

Big huckleberry is adapted to sprout after fire and is efficient in storing nutrients released from burning [139]. Big huckleberry sprouts after fire from shallow and deep rhizomes [30,106] or root crown [1]. Heat penetration into soil layers where rhizomes occur will affect big huckleberry's ability to produce postfire, vegetative sprouts [106].

In preferred habitats, big huckleberry will generally survive low to moderately severe fires, attaining prefire coverage within 3 to 7 years [19,25], with stem number and density increasing. High severity burns may result in moderate to high mortality [39] or greatly reduced sprouting [71]. Moderate to severe fires on coarse textured soil or areas with a thin organic layer kill underground rhizomes, resulting in heavy mortality [25,130]. Strong decreases occur after severe broadcast burning and wildfire with recovery generally occurring within 15 to 20 years [9]. Overall, low severity burns result in heavy sprouting from rhizomes [39].

  • 1. Agee, James K. 1994. Fire and weather disturbances in terrestrial ecosystems of the eastern Cascades. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-320. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 52 p. (Everett, Richard L., assessment team leader; Eastside forest ecosystem health assessment; Hessburg, Paul F., science team leader and tech. ed., Volume III: assessment). [23656]
  • 9. Arno, Stephen F.; Simmerman, Dennis G.; Keane, Robert E. 1985. Forest succession on four habitat types in western Montana. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-177. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 74 p. [349]
  • 19. Bradley, Anne F.; Noste, Nonan V.; Fischer, William C. 1992. Fire ecology of forests and woodlands of Utah. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-287. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 128 p. [18212]
  • 25. Coates, D.; Haeussler, S. 1986. A preliminary guide to the response of major species of competing vegetation to silvicultural treatments. Land Management Handbook Number 9. Victoria, BC: Ministry of Forests, Information Services Branch. 88 p. [17453]
  • 30. Crane, M. F.; Habeck, James R.; Fischer, William C. 1983. Early postfire revegetation in a western Montana Douglas-fir forest. Res. Pap. INT-319. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 29 p. [710]
  • 39. Donnelly, Steve. 1993. Spring burning by habitat type in relation to artificial restoration. McCall, ID: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Region, Payette National Forest. 19 p. [27626]
  • 106. Miller, Melanie. 1977. Response of blue huckleberry to prescribed fires in a western Montana larch-fir forest. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-188. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 33 p. [6334]
  • 139. Stark, Nellie M. 1977. Fire and nutrient cycling in a Douglas-fir/larch forest. Ecology. 58: 16-30. [8618]
  • 71. Hawkes, B. C.; Feller, M. C.; Meehan, D. 1990. Site preparation: fire. In: Lavender, D. P.; Parish, R.; Johnson, C. M.; [and others], eds. Regenerating British Columbia's forests. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press: 131-149. [10712]
  • 130. Ruediger, William; Mealey, Stephen. 1978. Coordination guidelines for timber harvesting in grizzly bear habitat in northwestern Montana. [Place of publication unknown]: [Publisher unknown]. 44 p. On file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. [19354]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

More info for the term: top-kill

Big huckleberry foliage is of low flammability. Individuals may survive low intensity fires [106] with top-kill occurring on more intense fires.
  • 106. Miller, Melanie. 1977. Response of blue huckleberry to prescribed fires in a western Montana larch-fir forest. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-188. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 33 p. [6334]

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the terms: rhizome, shrub

POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY [152]:
Rhizomatous shrub, rhizome in soil
  • 152. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. FEIS postfire regeneration workshop--April 12: Seral origin of species comprising secondary plant succession in Northern Rocky Mountain forests. 10 p. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. [20090]

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Fire Ecology

More info for the terms: fire regime, fire suppression, phase, series, severity, shrubs, surface fire, top-kill

Foliage of big huckleberry is of low flammability, allowing for survival after low severity fires, with top-kill resulting from higher severity fires. Top-killed plants resprout from rhizomes.

The clonal habit of big huckleberry favors ecotypic variation among populations. Plants subjected to regular fire intervals may be better suited to surviving fire than individuals developed under fire suppression [32]. Plants are consumed by fire only when adequate fuels are present to dry and preheat stems and foliage. Seed is not an important postfire recolonization method and is rarely found in postfire areas [106].

Historically, burning of big huckleberry patches by Native Americans was a regular activity in the subalpine zone of the Cascade and Pacific ranges. To enhance production, fires were set in autumn after berry harvest. Fires reduced invasion of shrubs and trees [17]. Fields of big huckleberry in the Pacific Northwest are considered a product of uncontrolled wildfires occurring before effective fire suppression [111].

Western Montana: Cool habitats dominated by lodgepole pine, with big huckleberry as a plentiful understory species, showed high severity (stand replacing) fire return intervals of 150 to 250 years in past centuries [55]. Lower subalpine stands in the Bitterroot National Forest, including stands in the Douglas-fir/big huckleberry habitat type, common beargrass phase, showed mean intervals between surface fires ranging from 17 to 28 years with a range of 3 to 67 years. At lower elevations, on montane slopes including stands in the Douglas-fir/big huckleberry habitat type, mean fire return intervals ranged from 7 to 19 years with a range of 2 to 48 years [6]. About 60% of mature subalpine fir/common beargrass stands in western Montana show evidence of surface fire [7].

Northern Idaho: Dry, lower subalpine fir habitat types where big huckleberry occurs show historic intervals between low to moderate severity fires averaging 35 years. Stand replacing fires occurred at average intervals >217 years. Severe fires occurred at intervals of 60 to 70 years in cold, dry grand fir habitats where big huckleberry is a dominant species [135].

Mixed conifer forests of the grand fir series within the Elkhorn Mountains of Oregon showed historic fire return intervals of 50-200 years on sites where big huckleberry is the dominant understory species [2]. The Douglas-fir forests of the eastern Cascade Range possess longer fire return intervals and higher fire intensities where big huckleberry is present than where big huckleberry does not occur [164].

The following table provides some fire regime intervals where big huckleberry is found:

Community or Ecosystem Dominant Species Fire Return Interval Range (years)
silver fir-Douglas-fir Abies amabilis-Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii > 200
grand fir Abies grandis 35-200
western larch Larix occidentalis 25-100
Engelmann spruce-subalpine fir Picea engelmannii-Abies lasiocarpa 35 to > 200
whitebark pine* Pinus albicaulis 50-200
Sierra lodgepole pine* Pinus contorta var. murrayana 35-200
Pacific ponderosa pine* Pinus ponderosa var. ponderosa 1-47
Rocky Mountain ponderosa pine* Pinus ponderosa var. scopulorum 2-10
Rocky Mountain Douglas-fir* Pseudotsuga menziesii var. glauca 25-100 [21]
coastal Douglas-fir* Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii 40-240 [8,114,128]
California mixed evergreen Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii-Lithocarpus densiflorus-Arbutus menziesii 35
western redcedar-western hemlock Thuja plicata-Tsuga heterophylla > 200
western hemlock-Sitka spruce Tsuga heterophylla-Picea sitchensis > 200
mountain hemlock* Tsuga mertensiana 35 to > 200 [21]
*fire return interval varies widely; trends in variation are noted in the species summary
  • 6. Arno, Stephen F. 1976. The historical role of fire on the Bitterroot National Forest. Res. Pap. INT-187. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 29 p. [15225]
  • 7. Arno, Stephen F. 1980. Forest fire history in the Northern Rockies. Journal of Forestry. 78(8): 460-465. [11990]
  • 8. Arno, Stephen F. 2000. Fire in western forest ecosystems. In: Brown, James K.; Smith, Jane Kapler, eds. Wildland fire in ecosystems: Effects of fire on flora. Gen. Tech. Rep. RMRS-GTR-42-vol. 2. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station: 97-120. [36984]
  • 2. Agee, James K. 1996. Fire in the Blue Mountains: a history, ecology, and research agenda. In: Jaindl, R. G.; Quigley, T. M., eds. Search for a solution: sustaining the land, people and economy of the Blue Mountains. Washington, DC: American Forests: 119-145. [28827]
  • 17. Boyd, Robert. 1999. Introduction. In: Boyd, Robert, ed. Indians, fire, and the land in the Pacific Northwest. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University: 1-30. [35565]
  • 21. Brown, James K.; Smith, Jane Kapler, eds. 2000. Wildland fire in ecosystems: Effects of fire on flora. Gen. Tech Rep. RMRS-GRT-42-vol. 2. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station. 257 p. [36581]
  • 32. Dahlgreen, Matthew Craig. 1984. Observations on the ecology of Vaccinium membranaceum Dougl. on the southeast slope of the Washington Cascades. Seattle, WA: University of Washington. 120 p. Thesis. [2131]
  • 55. Gabriel, Herman W., III. 1976. Wilderness ecology: the Danaher Creek Drainage, Bob Marshall Wilderness, Montana. Missoula, MT: University of Montana. 224 p. Dissertation. [12534]
  • 106. Miller, Melanie. 1977. Response of blue huckleberry to prescribed fires in a western Montana larch-fir forest. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-188. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 33 p. [6334]
  • 111. Minore, Don; Dubrasich, Michael E. 1978. Big huckleberry abundance as related to environment and associated vegetation near Mount Adams, Washington. Research Note PNW-322. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 8 p. [1661]
  • 114. Morrison, Peter H.; Swanson, Frederick J. 1990. Fire history and pattern in a Cascade Range landscape. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-254. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 77 p. [13074]
  • 128. Ripple, William J. 1994. Historic spatial patterns of old forests in western Oregon. Journal of Forestry. 92(11): 45-49. [33881]
  • 135. Smith, Jane Kapler; Fischer, William C. 1997. Fire ecology of the forest habitat types of northern Idaho. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-GTR-363. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 142 p. [27992]
  • 164. Williams, Clinton K.; Kelley, Brian F.; Smith, Bradley G.; Lillybridge, Terry R. 1995. Forest plant associations of the Colville National Forest. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-360. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 375 p. [27360]

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: climax, frequency, presence, shrub, succession

Big huckleberry may occur in early or late seral stages [32,69,99]. It generally shows greatest productivity within sites that experienced disturbance about 50 years previously [99]. Hamilton and Yearsley [69] describe big huckleberry as a "fairly shade-tolerant" species.

Fields dominated by big huckleberry are seral.

Decline of big huckleberry as forests move toward climax status is inevitable, especially in areas of crown closure [32]. Without disturbance, big huckleberry will gradually decrease in dominance, crowded out by trees [108].

Early seral: In spruce-fir forests big huckleberry may have a significant presence within 1 to 5 postdisturbance years [22]. Response varies greatly with intensity of disturbance. In a spruce-fir forest in Idaho, big huckleberry was not a dominant shrub until 40-79 years after clear cutting, sharing understory dominance with wild ginger (Asarum caudatum) in sites undisturbed for 80 years or longer [133].

Habeck [62] observed big huckleberry as a common understory component of pioneer and seral communities within cedar-hemlock habitats of Glacier National Park, Montana. Big huckleberry is also an early seral species in western redcedar-western hemlock forests of northern Idaho [150].

In grand fir habitats of north-central Idaho, big huckleberry may occupy an important role in early seral stages at high elevations on north slopes [167]. Big huckleberry decreases as a major understory species of developing grand fir/Douglas-fir stands above 3,937 feet (1,200 m) in the Selway-Bitteroot Wilderness of Montana and Idaho as stands move toward maturity [63]. Big huckleberry is well represented throughout all seral stages in grand fir/big huckleberry habitat types. Steele [142] presents a detailed model of succession in the grand-fir/big huckleberry habitat type.

In subalpine prairies of the Mount Hood area, Oregon, big huckleberry is an early seral plant species [118]. Big huckleberry is greater in frequency and coverage in open stands of mountain hemlock and Pacific silver fir associations and decreases as stands close [42].

Late seral: Big huckleberry is a widespread understory dominant in late seral and climax communities in subalpine forests [4]. Within Montana, northern Idaho, and eastern Washington habitat types, big huckleberry generally shows a slow recovery increasing toward a peak at 20 to 30 postdisturbance years [92].

  • 4. Agee, James K.; Smith, Larry. 1983. Subalpine tree invasion after fire in the Olympic Mountains. Tech. Compl. Rep. 2. NPS Contract CS-9000-9-E079. Seattle, WA: National Park Service, Pacific Northwest Region: 122-15. [18557]
  • 22. Burke, Constance J. 1979. Historic fires in the central western Cascades, Oregon. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University. 130 p. M.S. thesis. [6407]
  • 32. Dahlgreen, Matthew Craig. 1984. Observations on the ecology of Vaccinium membranaceum Dougl. on the southeast slope of the Washington Cascades. Seattle, WA: University of Washington. 120 p. Thesis. [2131]
  • 42. Douglas, George Wayne. 1970. A vegetation study in the subalpine zone of the western North Cascades, Washington. Seattle, WA: University of Washington. 293 p. Thesis. [8560]
  • 62. Habeck, James R. 1968. Forest succession in the Glacier Park cedar-hemlock forests. Ecology. 49(5): 872-880. [6479]
  • 63. Habeck, James R. 1976. Forests, fuels, and fire in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, Idaho. In: Proceedings, Tall Timbers fire ecology conference and fire and land management symposium; 1974 October 8-10; Missoula, MT. No. 14. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 305-353. [8185]
  • 69. Hamilton, Evelyn H.; Yearsley, H. Karen. 1988. Vegetation development after clearcutting and site preparation in the SBS zone. Economic and Regional Development Agreement: FRDA Report 018. Victoria, BC: Canadian Forestry Service, Pacific Forestry Centre; British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Lands. 66 p. [8760]
  • 92. Laursen, Steven B. 1984. Predicting shrub community composition and structure following management disturbance in forest ecosystems of the Intermountain West. Moscow, ID: University of Idaho. 261 p. Dissertation. [6717]
  • 99. 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]
  • 108. Minore, Don. 1972. The wild huckleberries of Oregon and Washington -- a dwindling resource. PNW-143. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 20 p. [8952]
  • 118. Norton, Helen H.; Boyd, Robert; Hunn, Eugene. 1999. The Klikitat Trail of south-central Washington: A reconstruction of seasonally used resource sites. In: Boyd, Robert, ed. Indians, fire, and the land in the Pacific Northwest. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University: 65-93. [35569]
  • 133. Scrivner, Jerry H.; Smith, H. Duane. 1984. Relative abundance of small mammals in four successional stages of spruce-fir forest in Idaho. Northwest Science. 58(3): 171-175. [14881]
  • 142. Steele, Robert. 1984. An approach to classifying seral vegetation within habitat types. Northwest Science. 58(1): 29-39. [2227]
  • 150. Stickney, Peter F. 1985. Data base for early postfire succession on the Sundance Burn, northern Idaho. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-189. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 121 p. [7223]
  • 167. Zamora, Benjamin Abel. 1975. Secondary succession on broadcast-burned clearcuts of the Abies grandis-Pachistima myrsinites habitat type in northcentral Idaho. Pullman, WA: Washington State University. 127 p. Dissertation. [5154]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the terms: adventitious, constancy, natural, rhizome, root crown

Big huckleberry may reproduce through seed or by vegetative production from adventitious buds on rhizomes [80,140] and root crown [1]. Reproduction through seed is rare under natural conditions. Populations are usually maintained through lateral expansion of vegetative clones [80,140].

Seed: Flowers are pollinated by bees [79,99] with each stem node having the capacity to produce 1 berry [32]. A typical berry carries 47 seeds. Mean germination is around 42% [138].

Fruit production is not halted during dry summers. Fructification may occur after 4 to 6 months void of rain [33]. In the southern Washington, Cascade Mountain region, individual stems are capable of producing fruit for 14 years [32]. Although berry production is moderately tolerant of moisture deficits, successful germination and subsequent establishment is extremely reduced or eliminated by water stress. Cool spring temperatures also negatively affect seed germination [140].

Establishment through seed is not heavily relied upon after disturbance. Number of seedlings emerging from soil blocks collected from a western hemlock/Pacific rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum)/dwarf Oregon-grape community was monitored after experimentally applied disturbance. Big huckleberry showed no regeneration from seed after burning and mechanical mixing of soil layers [80].

Big huckleberry offers a relatively minor contribution to soil seed banks. Viable seed most often occurs within the 1st 2 inches (5cm) of soil. Kramer and Johnson [89] evaluated the soil seed banks of Douglas-fir/ninebark habitat type; grand-fir/Rocky Mountain maple habitat type; and grand-fir/big huckleberry habitat types in central Idaho. The constancy (%) of viable, buried, big huckleberry seed, by habitat type is summarized below:

Douglas-fir/ninebark Grand fir/Rocky Mountain maple Grand fir/big huckleberry
6 31 25

Vegetative: Big huckleberry possesses an extensive system of rhizomes [64,106], with adventitious buds distributed evenly along the length of the rhizome [106]. Vegetative production is relied upon highly for regeneration after disturbance [80]. Fruit productivity is more sensitive to solar radiation than vegetative production [32].

  • 1. Agee, James K. 1994. Fire and weather disturbances in terrestrial ecosystems of the eastern Cascades. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-320. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 52 p. (Everett, Richard L., assessment team leader; Eastside forest ecosystem health assessment; Hessburg, Paul F., science team leader and tech. ed., Volume III: assessment). [23656]
  • 32. Dahlgreen, Matthew Craig. 1984. Observations on the ecology of Vaccinium membranaceum Dougl. on the southeast slope of the Washington Cascades. Seattle, WA: University of Washington. 120 p. Thesis. [2131]
  • 33. Darrow, George M. 1960. Blueberry breeding, past, present, future. American Horticultural Magazine. 39(1): 14-33. [9126]
  • 64. Haeussler, S.; Coates, D.; Mather J. 1990. Autecology of common plants in British Columbia: A literature review. Economic and Regional Development Agreement FRDA Rep. 158. Victoria, BC: Forestry Canada, Pacific Forestry Centre; British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Research Branch. 272 p. [18034]
  • 79. Hunn, Eugene S.; Norton, Helen H. 1984. Impact of Mt. St. Helens ashfall on fruit yields of mountain huckleberry, Vaccinium membranaceum, important Native American food. Economic Botany. 38(1): 121-127. [9501]
  • 80. Ingersoll, Cheryl A.; Wilson, Mark V. 1990. Buried propagules in an old-growth forest and their response to experimental disturbances. Canadian Journal of Botany. 68: 1156-1162. [11767]
  • 89. Kramer, Neal B.; Johnson, Frederic D. 1987. Mature forest seed banks of three habitat types in central Idaho. Canadian Journal of Botany. 65: 1961-1966. [3961]
  • 99. 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]
  • 106. Miller, Melanie. 1977. Response of blue huckleberry to prescribed fires in a western Montana larch-fir forest. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-188. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 33 p. [6334]
  • 138. Stark, N.; Baker, Stephen. 1992. The ecology and culture of Montana huckleberries: A guide for growers and researchers. Miscellaneous Publication 52. Missoula, MT: The University of Montana, School of Forestry, Montana Forest and Conservation Experiment Station. 87 p. [17878]
  • 140. 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]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: geophyte, phanerophyte

RAUNKIAER [126] LIFE FORM:
Phanerophyte
Geophyte
  • 126. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843]

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Life Form

More info for the term: shrub

Shrub

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: phenology

Growth of big huckleberry is fixed. Leaf primordia are initiated prior to spring bud break. Seasonal growth involves shoot extension through internode elongation [59].

Throughout big huckleberry's range in Montana, flowering begins the 1st week of June with total floret development requiring 4 months (mid-July to October) [59]. Gough [59] observed vegetative and reproductive development in the Lee Metcalf Wilderness, Montana, at 6,562 feet (2,000 m) with an 80-day growing season. Shoot growth from vegetative buds on stems began in mid-May. Buds on plants where the soil was still frozen showed no bud break. Vegetative buds on shoots greater than 0.08 inches (2 mm) diameter swell before buds on thinner, less vigorous shoots. Shoot elongation occurs until mid- to late June. Seasonal shoot growth is generally completed within a 4-week period [59].

Drew [44] mapped the phenology of big huckleberry within the cedar/hemlock zone of Idaho. Onset of leaf fall was directly related to limitations in soil moisture availability. Bud burst occurred early to mid-April followed by leafing out (beginning of May) and stem elongation (May-beginning of July). Leaf fall is initiated in mid-August [44].
  • 44. Drew, Larry Albert. 1967. Comparative phenology of seral shrub communities in the cedar/hemlock zone. Moscow, ID: University of Idaho. 108 p. Thesis. [9654]
  • 59. Gough, R. E. 1998. Vegetative and reproductive development of the Montana blue huckleberry (Vaccinium globulare Rydb.). Journal of Horticultural Science & Biotechnology. 73(5): 606-611. [34978]

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Vaccinium membranaceum

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


Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Vaccinium membranaceum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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Big huckleberry is listed as imperiled in South Dakota [136].

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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status, such as, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & Oregon Plant Materials Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Management

Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

This species is available at some native plant nurseries within its range. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & Oregon Plant Materials Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Huckleberry plants grow very rapidly in moist, shady conditions. If summer drought occurs, the plants should be watered so roots are kept fairly moist.

Traditional Resource Management: Management of this plant includes the following: 1) occasional burning to stimulate new growth; 2) pruning the branches after picking the berries to stimulate new growth and fruit production the next growing season; and 3) ownership of black huckleberry shrubs provides the basis for careful tending and sustainable yield of valued resources.

Public Domain

USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & Oregon Plant Materials Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

The Wind River Nursery [70] in Carson, Washington, provides suggestions for successful big huckleberry propagation. Initial planting is recommended in flats with subsequent transplanting of germinants to individual pots. Flats should be covered with glass or plexiglass to reduce soil moisture loss and placed in a cool location (large refrigerator or unheated greenhouse) to provide cool moist stratification. After stratification, flats should be transferred directly to heated greenhouse for germination. Seedlings should be hand transplanted to pots.

Propagation method Seed collection Seed extraction Stratification Seed planting Seedling container Seedling media Other treatment
seed summer mash fruit with water, separate short/cool tray 10-15 cm pot Perlite/vermiculite/peatmoss
or
Perlite/vermiculite/barkdust
inoculation with mycorrhizae

Flowering by new seedlings usually requires 3 growing seasons [113].

  • 113. Minore, Don; Smart, Alan W.; Dubrasich, Michael E. 1979. Huckleberry ecology and management research in the Pacific Northwest. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-93. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 50 p. [6336]
  • 70. Harrington, Constance A.; McGrath, James M.; Kraft, Joseph M. 1999. Propagating native species: experience at the Wind River Nursery. Western Journal of Applied Forestry. 14(2): 61-64. [30058]

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Cover Value

More info for the term: cover

Big huckleberry provides hiding or resting cover for several wildlife species. Dense thickets provide good cover for many smaller birds and mammals. Cover value of big huckleberry has been rated as follows for Wyoming [87]:

Pronghorn poor
Elk fair
Mule deer fair
White-tailed deer fair
Small mammals good
Small nongame birds good
Upland game birds good
Waterfowl poor
  • 87. Klebenow, Donald A. 1965. A montane forest winter deer habitat in western Montana. Journal of Wildlife Management. 29(1): 27-33. [8430]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

More info for the term: shrub

Big game: Big huckleberry is a good food source for grizzly bears and black bears [34,161] and is a key food item for bears in Montana [117]. Bears feed upon berries, leaves, stems [5], and roots [84]. Big huckleberry is the dominant huckleberry species consumed by grizzly and black bears of Glacier National Park, Montana [84] and a major shrub food item in Yellowstone National Park [88]. Bears may begin feeding upon big huckleberry berries in mid-July at lower elevations 3,000 to 3,937 feet (900-1,200 m) of Glacier National Park [161].

Big huckleberry is a minor component in the summer diet of western Montana elk [45]. Elk feed on big huckleberry when leaves are young and tender [165]. Big huckleberry also provides browse for moose in north-central Idaho [124].

Big huckleberry is an important species for white-tailed deer in grand fir and western redcedar forests of northern Idaho, with greatest use occurring in the fall [86].

Avian: Although not preferred, big huckleberry provides a fall food source for blue grouse in Oregon [31] and is an important food source for ruffed grouse [77].

  • 45. Edge, W. Daniel; Marcum, C. Les; Olson-Edge, Sally L. 1988. Summer forage and feeding site selection by elk. Journal of Wildlife Management. 52(4): 573-577. [6778]
  • 5. Almack, Jon. 1986. Grizzly bear habitat use, food habits, and movements in the Selkirk Mountains, northern Idaho. In: Contreras, Glen P.; Evans, Keith E., compilers. Proceedings--grizzly bear habitat symposium; 1985 April 30 - May 2; Missoula, MT. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-207. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station: 150-157. [10815]
  • 31. Crawford, John A.; Van Dyke, Walt; Meyers, S. Mark; Haensly, Thomas F. 1986. Fall diet of blue grouse in Oregon. The Great Basin Naturalist. 46(1): 123-127. [14176]
  • 34. Davis, Dan; Butterfield, Bart. 1991. The Bitterroot Grizzly Bear Evaluation Area: A report to the Bitterroot Technical Review Team. Unpublished report on file with: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT. 56 p. [30041]
  • 84. Kendall, Katherine C. 1986. Grizzly and black bear feeding ecology in Glacier National Park, Montana. Progress Report. West Glacier, Montana: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Glacier National Park Biosphere Preserve, Science Center. 42 p. [19361]
  • 86. Kingery, James L.; Mosley, Jeffrey C.; Bordwell, Kirsten C. 1996. Dietary overlap among cattle and cervids in northern Idaho forests. Journal of Range Management. 49(1): 8-15. [26611]
  • 88. Knight, Richard R; Blanchard, Bonnie M. 1983. Yellowstone grizzly bear investigations: Annual report of the Interagency Study Team: 1982. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service. 45 p. [20703]
  • 117. Noble, William. 1985. Shepherdia canadensis: its ecology, distribution, and utilization by the grizzly bear. Unpublished paper on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT: 28 p. [14917]
  • 124. Pierce, John D. 1984. Shiras moose forage selection in relation to browse availability in north-central Idaho. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 62(12): 2404-2409. [12493]
  • 161. Welch, Christy A.; Keay, Jeffrey; Kendall, Katherine C.; Robbins, Charles T. 1997. Constraints on frugivory by bears. Ecology. 78(4): 1105-1119. [27896]
  • 165. Young, Vernon A.; Robinette, W. Leslie. 1939. A study of the range habits of elk on the Selway Game Preserve. Bulletin No. 9. Moscow, ID: University of Idaho, School of Forestry. 47 p. [6831]
  • 77. Hungerford, Kenneth E. 1957. Evaluating ruffed grouse foods for habitat improvement. Transactions, 22nd North American Wildlife Conference. [Volume unknown]: 380-395. [15905]

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Nutritional Value

Nutritional value of big huckleberry has been rated for Wyoming as [87]:

Elkgood
Mule deergood
White-tailed deergood
Antelopepoor
Upland game birdgood
Waterfowlpoor
Small non-game birdgood
Small mammalsgood


Light intensity (litter temperature of 150 degrees Fahrenheit (66 °C) at 1.9
inches (5 cm)) slash burning, after a clearcut in subalpine fir/queencup beadlily
habitat type composed largely of Douglas-fir and western larch, had no
significant effect (p> 0.05) on big huckleberry nutritional value [137].
  • 87. Klebenow, Donald A. 1965. A montane forest winter deer habitat in western Montana. Journal of Wildlife Management. 29(1): 27-33. [8430]
  • 137. Stark, N. 1980. Light burning and the nutrient value of forage. Res. Note INT-280. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Forest and Range Experiment Station. 7 p. [2223]

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Other uses and values

Big huckleberry is historically an important food item in the diet of many Pacific Northwest Native Americans [78,82,84,93,118].

Big huckleberry may hybridize with Vaccinium cultivars, producing drought-resistant cultivars for the West Coast [33].

  • 33. Darrow, George M. 1960. Blueberry breeding, past, present, future. American Horticultural Magazine. 39(1): 14-33. [9126]
  • 82. Johnson, Leslie Main. 1999. Aboriginal burning for vegetation management in northwest British Columbia. In: Boyd, Robert, ed. Indians, fire and the land in the Pacific Northwest. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University Press: 238-254. [35576]
  • 118. Norton, Helen H.; Boyd, Robert; Hunn, Eugene. 1999. The Klikitat Trail of south-central Washington: A reconstruction of seasonally used resource sites. In: Boyd, Robert, ed. Indians, fire, and the land in the Pacific Northwest. Corvallis, OR: Oregon State University: 65-93. [35569]
  • 84. Kendall, Katherine C. 1986. Grizzly and black bear feeding ecology in Glacier National Park, Montana. Progress Report. West Glacier, Montana: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Glacier National Park Biosphere Preserve, Science Center. 42 p. [19361]
  • 78. Hunn, Eugene S. 1981. On the relative contribution of men and women to subsistence among hunter-gatherers of the Columbia Plateau: a comparison with Ethnographic Atlas summaries. Journal of Ethnobiology. 1(1): 124-134. [35981]
  • 93. Lepofsky, Dana; Turner, Nancy J.; Kuhnlein, Harriet V. 1985. Determining the availability of traditional wild plant foods: an example of Nuxalk foods, Bella Coola, British Columbia. Ecology of Food and Nutrition. 16: 223-241. [7002]

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Palatability

Overall palatability of big huckleberry has been rated as [38,87,99,144,165]:

IDMTEastern ORWAWY
Cattle----poor------------
Domestic sheepgoodfairgoodgood----
Horses----poor------------
Pronghorn----------------poor
Elkfair to good--------good----
Mule deergoodfair--------good
White-tailed deergood------------good
Small mammals----------------good
Small nongame birds----------------good
Upland game birds-----------------good
Waterfowl----------------poor
Grizzly bear----good--------good
Black beargoodgoodgoodgoodgood
  • 99. 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]
  • 144. Steele, Robert; Geier-Hayes, Kathleen. 1987. The grand fir/blue huckleberry habitat type in central Idaho: succession and management. Gen. Tech. Rep. INT-228. Ogden, UT: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station. 66 p. [8133]
  • 38. Dittberner, Phillip L.; Olson, Michael R. 1983. The plant information network (PIN) data base: Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming. FWS/OBS-83/86. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Interior, Fish and Wildlife Service. 786 p. [806]
  • 87. Klebenow, Donald A. 1965. A montane forest winter deer habitat in western Montana. Journal of Wildlife Management. 29(1): 27-33. [8430]
  • 165. Young, Vernon A.; Robinette, W. Leslie. 1939. A study of the range habits of elk on the Selway Game Preserve. Bulletin No. 9. Moscow, ID: University of Idaho, School of Forestry. 47 p. [6831]

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Uses

Ethnobotanic: The nlaka'pamux of British Columbia, the Okanagan-Colville and Nez Perce of eastern Washington, the Plateau Indians of the Columbia River Gorge, the Kootenay of southeastern British Columbia, and the Flathead people of Montana (among others) really savored the black huckleberries (Turner et al. 1990; Hunn 1990; Hart 1976).

Traditionally, black huckleberry fruits were eaten raw and fresh, or were cooked, mashed, and dried in the sun as cakes. The Nez Perce boiled the dried berries before they were eaten. The Stoney (Assiniboin) sometimes mixed the berries in pemmican. Okanagan-Colville people used the ripening of black hawthorn fruits (Crataegus douglasii Lindl.) as an indicator of when black huckleberries would be ripe in the mountains. They ate huckleberries fresh with meat; partially dried

them, crushed them and formed them into cakes; or fully dried them. In British Columbia, the Kwakwaka'wakw cooked them with salmon roe and the Sechelt smoke-dried them, using black huckleberry branches as part of the fuel.

A first fruits ceremony or feast is held by many nations in the Pacific Northwest, including the Columbia Plateau Indians, the Umatilla, the Yakima, the Warm Springs, and the Colville Confederated Tribes. Huckleberry feasts are held in July or August, coinciding with the first berry harvest. A thanksgiving ceremony is held at this time, with gratitude expressed through prayer, dancing, and celebration. Feasts used to also be given at a girl's first berry picking or root gathering and at the first procuring of game by a boy. These generally occurred when the child was ten years old. At these feasts, they served food procured by the child along with other foods. The elders praised and blessed the work of the child, giving the child the power to become great and successful later in life.

After the huckleberry feast, the Sahaptin people of the Columbia Plateau would leave for a seasonal migration to the mountains to gather berries and to escape the summer heat. Special baskets, called "Klikitat baskets" of cedar root decorated with bear grass and bitter cherry bark, were used for berry picking. The surplus berries were dried slowly over a fire that was kept smoldering in a rotten log (Filloon 1952). This method of drying the berries preserves the bulk of the Vitamin C content in the fruits (Norton et al. 1984:223).

Each family from the Columbia Plateau area would gather four or five pecks (ca. four to five gallons) of dried berries for winter use (Perkins n.d. (1838-43), Book 1:10). Hunn (1990) estimates that there were 28-42 harvest days in a year. This resulted in a total annual harvest of 63.9-80.2 kg/woman/year from the Tenino-Wishram area, and 90 kg/woman/year from the Umatilla area. The net result was a huckleberry harvest yield of 31 kcal/person/day in the Tenino-Wishram area and 42 kcal/person/day for the Umatilla area (Hunn 1981: 130-131). Vaccinium species contain 622 Kcal per 100 gm berries, with 15.3 gm carbohydrate, 0.5 gm fat, 0.7 gm protein and 83.2 gm water (Hunn 1981:130-131).

Huckleberries are used for a lavender or purple natural dye in the twined corn husk bags made by the Nez Perce; the cornhusks are dyed with the juice of the berries. The Nlaka'pamux sometimes used the leaves in smoking mixture (Turner 1990).

Other Uses: Vaccinium membranaceum is the most highly regarded of the huckleberry species within its range, especially in British Columbia and neighboring areas (Turner 1975, 1978). People of all cultures love these huckleberries. Today, the berries are eaten fresh, baked in pancakes, pies, and muffins, canned, frozen, or made into jams and jellies. Berries are usually picked in late July or August. The leaves can be used fresh or dried to make a tea.

Huckleberry leaves and finely chopped stems contain quinic acid, a former therapeutic for gout said to inhibit uric acid formation but never widely used because of mixed clinical results (Moore 1979). The leaves have been widely used to lower or modify blood sugar levels, particularly in Europe. Taken on regular basis, huckleberry tea will gradually help alleviate both glycosuria and hyperglycemia and has a benign but useful effect as an adjunct treatment to diabetes mellitus.

Wildlife: Huckleberry fruits are an important food source for songbirds, gulls, cranes, pigeons, turkeys, and upland game birds. Many mammals, from black bears to mice, feed on red huckleberries. Herbivores graze on the entire plant; it appears to be a favorite browse of deer. Huckleberries and blueberries form a major part of the grizzly and black bear's diet in late summer and fall. Grouse feast on the leaves and blossoms. The fruits, twigs, and foliage are eaten by foxes, opossums, raccoons, squirrels, deer, moose, caribou, elk, pikas, cottontail rabbits, and skunks.

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USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center & Oregon Plant Materials Center

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Wikipedia

Vaccinium membranaceum

Vaccinium membranaceum is a species within the group of Vaccinium commonly referred to as huckleberry. This particular species is known by the common names thinleaf huckleberry, tall huckleberry, big huckleberry, mountain huckleberry, square-twig blueberry, and (ambiguously) as "black huckleberry".

Distribution[edit]

Vaccinium membranaceum is native to western North America, with a range extending in the northern from southern Alaska and northwestern Canada to the northern mountains of California to the south. It can be found from the mountains next to the Pacific Ocean in the west, to the Rocky Mountains in the east.

Isolated populations of this species have been found in Arizona, North Dakota, Minnesota, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and Ontario, Canada.[1]

Vaccinium membranaceum grows at higher elevations in subalpine and alpine environments. It occurs in both pine and spruce dominated forests and in open meadow ecosystems. In forests V. membranaceumoften dominates the forest understory during early to mid stages of succession.[2] Vaccinium membranceum is fire adapted. The leaves and stems of the huckleberry are resistant to low-intensity fires, and if burned away they will resprout vigorously from rhizomes buried under the soil.[2]

Description[edit]

Vaccinium membranaceum is an erect shrub growing up to 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) in maximum height. The new twigs are yellow-green and somewhat angled. The deciduous leaves are alternately arranged. The very thin to membranous, oval leaf blades are up to 5 centimeters long. The edges are serrated, with each tiny tooth tipped with a glandular hair. Solitary flowers occur in the leaf axils. Each is around 6 millimeters long, urn-shaped to cylindrical, and pale pink to waxy bronze in color.

They are pollinated by bees.[2] The fruit mature fruit ranges in colour from red through bluish-purple to a dark, almost black berry about a centimeter wide. Each fruit contains an average of 47 tiny seeds.[2]

Reproduction

The plant rarely reproduces via seed, rather, it usually spreads by cloning itself from its rhizome or shoots.[2] The seeds do germinate if dispersed by animals, however, as evidenced by populations of the plant growing on the recovering section of Mount St. Helens.[3] Other than the study by Yang et al. (2008) reports of V. membranaceum sprouting from seed are quite rare with other scientists who have studied this species reporting only 6 seedlings observed during 18 years in the field.[4]

Uses[edit]

Culinary[edit]

Vaccinium membranaceum is this species that is the most commonly collected of all of the wild western huckleberries, and it has great commercial importance.[5] In a good year Vaccinium membranaceum shrubs produce a lot of fruit. The amount of fruit produced by these shrubs is legendary, with stories being told of mountain sides turned purple by all of the fruit, or shrubs being weighed to the ground by large, and abundant berries [6]

Native Americans

Both humans and wildlife enjoy feasting on this fruit in the late summer and early fall. People have been eating the fruit of this species for thousands of years. It was and continues to be widely used for food by Native Americans.[5] The Kutenai called the black huckleberry shawíash (Ktunaxa: ǂawiyaǂ).[7] Alaska Natives consumed it in bread and pies as a source of vitamin C, the Coeur d'Alene people ate the fruit fresh, dried, mashed, cooked, and added it to soup or froze it for later use, and many other groups relished it and stored it frozen, dried, pressed into cakes, or canned for winter use.[8]

Wildlife

The plant also provides a key food source for black and grizzly bears, which eat the leaves, stems, roots, and fruit.[2] Elk, moose, and white-tailed deer also browse the plant.[2] The thickets provide cover for many species of small animals.[2]

Symbol

The huckleberry is the official state fruit of Idaho, with this particular species assumed to be the huckleberry in question.[9]

Management[edit]

Some Native American groups lit carefully planned controlled burns in wild huckleberry patches to promote fruit production by eliminating competing plants and by stimulating the huckleberry to sprout and spread.[2] Native American groups throughout the Pacific Northwest still utilize this plant as an important cultural food and are active in its management.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ VanderKloet, Sam (1988). The Genus Vaccinium in North America. Ottawa, ON: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i US Forest Service Fire Ecology
  3. ^ Yang, S., et al. (2008). Colonization genetics of an animal-dispersed plant (Vaccinium membranaceum) at Mount St Helens, Washington. Molecular Genetics 17:3 731-40.
  4. ^ Stark and Baker (1992). The Ecology and Culture of Montana Huckleberries: A guide for growers and researchers. Missoula, MT: University of Montana, School of Forestry. 
  5. ^ a b Flora of North America
  6. ^ Bowen, Asta (1988). The Huckleberry Book. 
  7. ^ "FirstVoices- Ktunaxa. Plants: food plants: words.". Retrieved 2012-07-07. 
  8. ^ Ethnobotany
  9. ^ Netstate: Idaho State Fruit
  10. ^ Martin, L. P., et al. (2008). Management and monitoring plan for the enhancement of big huckleberry in Government Meadows, Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. USDA Forest Service.
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

The currently accepted scientific name of big huckleberry is Vaccinium membranaceum
Dougl. (Ericaceae) [40,60,76,159,162].
  • 40. Dorn, Robert D. 1988. Vascular plants of Wyoming. Cheyenne, WY: Mountain West Publishing. 340 p. [6129]
  • 60. Great Plains Flora Association. 1986. Flora of the Great Plains. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas. 1392 p. [1603]
  • 76. Hulten, Eric. 1968. Flora of Alaska and neighboring territories. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 1008 p. [13403]
  • 159. Voss, Edward G. 1996. Michigan flora. Part III: Dicots (Pyrolaceae--Compositae). Cranbrook Institute of Science Bulletin 61/University of Michigan Herbarium. Ann Arbor, MI: The Regents of the University of Michigan. 622 p. [30401]
  • 162. Welsh, Stanley L.; Atwood, N. Duane; Goodrich, Sherel; Higgins, Larry C., eds. 1987. A Utah flora. The Great Basin Naturalist Memoir No. 9. Provo, UT: Brigham Young University. 894 p. [2944]

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Common Names

big huckleberry

blue huckleberry

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