Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Vaccinium angustifolium

Introductory

SPECIES: Vaccinium angustifolium
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Vaccinium angustifolium. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ []. ABBREVIATION : VACANG SYNONYMS : NO-ENTRY SCS PLANT CODE : VAAN COMMON NAMES : early low-bush blueberry low sweet blueberry TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of early low-bush blueberry is Vaccinium angustifolium Ait. (Ericaceae) [77,93]. Autopolyploidy and allopolyploidy are common in Vaccinium spp. [137] and contribute to the taxonomic complexity of this group [34]. Most researchers recognize low sweet blueberry as a single, highly polymorphic, species. Thus, earlier treatments that recognized many varieties and forms of early low-bush blueberry are now considered misleading and inappropriate [157]. Early low-bush blueberry hybridizes with many species, including highbush blueberry (V. corymbosum), velvetleaf blueberry, bog blueberry (V. uliginosum), hillside blueberry (V. pallidum), ground blueberry (V. myrsinites), downy blueberry (V. atrococcum), and V. caesariense [34,150,155,157]. Interspecific hybrid swarms have been reported [137]. The entity formerly known as V. angustifolium var. hypolasium Fernald (var. integrefolium Leepage) may be a natural hybrid of velvetleaf blueberry, sweet hurt's blueberry (Vaccinium boreale), and early low-bush blueberry [137]. Hybrids of early low-bush blueberry and highbush blueberry have been designated as V. atlanticum Bicknell [150]. LIFE FORM : Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY

DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Vaccinium angustifolium
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Early low-bush blueberry grows from Labrador and Newfoundland westward to southern Manitoba and Minnesota [160].  It extends southward to northern Illinois in the West, and from New England through the Appalachians to West Virginia and Virginia in the East [70,119,157]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES10  White - red - jack pine    FRES11  Spruce - fir    FRES14  Oak - pine    FRES15  Oak - hickory    FRES17  Elm - ash - cottonwood    FRES18  Maple - beech - birch    FRES19  Aspen - birch STATES :      CT  DE  IA  IL  IN  ME  MA  MI  MN  NH      NJ  NY  NC  OH  PA  RI  TN  VT  VA  WV      WI  LB  MB  NB  NF  NS  ON  PE  PQ  SK BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K081  Oak savanna    K094  Conifer bog    K095  Great Lakes pine forest    K096  Northeastern spruce - fir forest    K100  Oak - hickory forest    K106  Northern hardwoods    K107  Northern hardwoods - fir forest    K108  Northern hardwoods - spruce forest    K109  Transition between K104 and K106    K110  Northeastern oak - pine forest    K111  Oak - hickory - pine forest SAF COVER TYPES :      1  Jack pine      5  Balsam fir     12  Black spruce     13  Black spruce - tamarack     14  Northern pin oak     15  Red pine     16  Aspen     18  Paper birch     20  White pine - northern red oak - red maple     21  Eastern white pine     24  Hemlock - yellow birch     25  Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch     27  Sugar maple     30  Red spruce - yellow birch     32  Red spruce     33  Red spruce - balsam fir     34  Red spruce - Fraser fir     35  Paper birch - red spruce - balsam fir     37  Northern white-cedar     39  Black ash - American elm - red maple     43  Bear oak     44  Chestnut oak     51  White pine - chestnut oak     52  White pine - black oak - northern red oak     53  White oak     55  Northern red oak     60  Beech - sugar maple    107  White spruce    108  Red maple    110  Black oak SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Early low-bush blueberry occurs as an understory dominant or codominant in a variety of forest communities.  Common overstory dominants include eastern white pine (Pinus strobus), jack pine (P. banksiana), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), red maple (A. rubrum), and northern red oak (Quercus rubra).  Common codominants include Canada beadruby (Maianthemum canadense), pointed-leaved tick trefoil (Desmodium glutinosum), mapleleaf viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium), and hairgrass (Deschampsia spp.).  Early low-bush blueberry is listed as an indicator or dominant species in the following habitat type classifications: Field guide: Habitat classification system for Upper Peninsula of   Michigan and Northeast Wisconsin [43] Field guide to forest habitat types of northern Wisconsin [98].

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Vaccinium angustifolium
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Browse:  The black bear, eastern cottontail, and white-tailed deer feed on the foliage of early low-bush blueberry [71].  In spruce-fir forests of north-central Maine, it is preferred deer browse [112].  In central Pennsylvania, deer use is light year-round [30]; deer often eat overwintering shoots during the early spring [17] and browse plants during fall and winter [131].  Early low-bush blueberry is an important moose browse in parts of Maine [112] but is rarely eaten in northeastern Minnesota [85].  Domestic sheep commonly avoid early low-bush blueberry browse [72]. Fruit and flowers:  Fruit is readily eaten by a wide variety of birds and mammals [70].  In some areas, it is a particularly important late summer-early fall ptarmigan food [158].  Flower buds are readily eaten by ruffed grouse during the winter and are considered a major food source during February in some areas [131].  Wildlife species that feed on the fruit include:  mammals - black bear, red fox, raccoon, red-backed vole, and many species of mice [17,70,99,132]; birds - American robin, common crow, and eastern bluebird [70,132].  Wildlife species that eat the fruits of Vaccinium spp. in general include:  mammals - white-footed mouse, fox squirrel, red squirrel, eastern spotted skunk, gray fox, and many species of chipmunks [100,108,124,157,160]; birds - wild turkey, ruffed grouse, spruce grouse, gray catbird, brown thrasher, rufous-sided towhee, northern mockingbird, black-capped chickadee, red-cockaded woodpecker, starling, cardinal, scarlet tanager, Canada goose, herring gull, whimbrel, quail, and thrushes [108,157,160]. PALATABILITY : NO-ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : The food value of berries and browse varies seasonally, and with site characteristics, geographic location, and fire history [29,143]. Fruit:  Fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, natural sugars, niacin, and manganese [31,123].  Berries are relatively high in carbohydrates and soluble solids but contain little sodium or fat [13,31,123,164]. Fruit averages approximately 41 calories per 0.5 cup [123], with sugar concentration ranging from 0.03 to 0.34 percent [168]. Overall nutrient value is rated as moderately low [164].  Average vitamin and mineral content of early low-bush blueberry fruit on a wet weight basis is available [31]. Browse:  Nitrogen typically decreases from July 22 to September 22 during crop years but increases during years in which no fruit production occurs [147].  Levels of phosphorus, calcium, manganese, potassium, and magnesium also exhibit seasonal fluctuations [147]. Nutrient content of early low-bush blueberry leaves is as follows [72]: Nutrients -              N          P           K         Ca          Mg Range of Concentration (%) -  1.50-2.00  0.08-0.121  0.40-0.55  0.40-0.65  0.15-0.20 COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Early low-bush blueberry may have potential use for rehabilitating certain types of disturbed sites.  It is tolerant of metals and grows in stunted form on industrially damaged sites near Sudbury, Ontario [165].  Plants have recolonized strip-mined areas in West Virginia [79] and reclaimed mined peatlands of the Northeast [53].  Rhizomes can sometimes aid in preventing soil erosion on steep slopes [72]. Early low-bush blueberry can be readily propagated from hard, semihard, and softwood cuttings, and from rhizome segments [26,63,90,95].  Side-shoot cuttings can be used to supplement regular cuttings where rapid propagation is desired [90].  Cuttings generally root within 6 weeks [4]; those taken in fall and winter often root best [82].  Detailed information on vegetative propagation techniques is available [14,47,63,82,95]. Early low-bush blueberry can also be propagated by seed [124]. Cleaned seed averages 1,972,174 per pound (4,344/g) [44].  Seedlings can be transplanted to flats after 6 to 7 weeks [12]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Traditional uses:  Native Americans traditionally valued early low-bush blueberry fruit.  Berries were eaten fresh, dried, baked and added to soups, or mixed with venison and other meats [72,132,157].  Early European settlers ate the fruit fresh or used it to make jams, jellies, and preserves [157]. Modern uses:  Early low-bush blueberry is the most important commercial blueberry in the northeastern United States and Canada [34].  It is grown commercially in Ontario, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, and Maine [31,113].  A major portion of the crop is gathered from managed wild stands [157].   Most fruit is used in processed foods such as pie or muffin mixes, pastries, jam, ice cream, and yogurt [17,31,72,132].  Berries are also used to make wine and various juice products [17,72].  Early low-bush blueberry is the blueberry most commonly used for commercial canning [123].  Fruit is also freeze-dried.  The development of the frozen food industry in the 1940's promoted rapid expansion of early low-bush blueberry cultivation [157]. Recreation use:  Throughout its range, the early low-bush blueberry is prized by recreational berry-pickers.  Blueberry picking is an important recreational activity in many areas [93].  In the early 1980's, an estimated 20 percent of all summer tourists engaged in blueberry picking in parts of the Great Lakes region [132]. Horticultural value:  Plants are ornamental and can be used as shrubbery, hedges, or as fruiting ground cover [123].  The cultivar 'Tophat' is used only for ornamental purposes and is well suited for bonsai [123].  Early low-bush blueberry has potential for use in breeding northern fruit-producing stock [45,81] and is well suited to small farms, since 5 to 10 acres is sufficient to produce a significant quantity of fruit [7]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Competition:  In some areas, early low-bush blueberry is described as a "troublesome" brush species that can interfere with red pine regeneration [52].  In other areas, however, jack pine regenerates better in monotypic stands of early low-bush blueberry than in mixed stands of sweet-fern, bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum), and fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium) [41]. Herbicides:  Early low-bush blueberry can be controlled by 2,4-D, and 2,4,5-T [124].  Herbicides such as hexazinone and Terbacil have been widely used in commercial fields to eliminate weeds that compete with early low-bush blueberry [77,137,172]. Environmental Considerations:  Early low-bush blueberry is tolerant of acid rain (pH < 3.5) [129].  Studies indicate that plants can survive at least short-term exposure to acid rain with a pH of 2.5.  Early low-bush blueberry could increase in response to acid rain in boreal forests [129].  It is apparently resistant to emissions produced by zinc smelters [91]. Wildlife:  The reproductive success of black bears has been correlated to annual blueberry crops.  Poor blueberry crops can limit black bear reproductive success as well as overall survival in aspen-birch-conifer forests of northeastern Minnesota.  In Wisconsin bears depredations such as damage to crops and beehives and livestock losses typically increase during poor berry years [125]. Timber harvest:  Although opening a closed stand can improve the growth and vigor of early low-bush blueberry, clearcutting and postharvest burning does not ensure the development of a lush stand of blueberry [65].  Hall [65] observed that after growing in the heavy shade of a closed forest canopy, many plants were killed by postharvest burns.  Survival may be greater if plants are allowed to grow and increase in vigor before burning [65].  Thinning for pulpwood cuttings can result in vigorous growth of early low-bush blueberry [65,70] as plants spread by rhizomes into opened areas.  Response to various types of timber treatments has been reported [9,10,134]. Fruit production:  Early low-bush blueberry fruit production is strongly influenced by weather conditions, climate, pollinator availability, light intensity, genetic factors, and nutrient levels at the time of bud initiation [16,70,147].  Fruit production is limited under low light intensity [67,150]; production is virtually nil at 50 to 500 foot-candles [67].  Shade produced by competing weeds can often reduce fruit yields [67]. Cross-pollination by insects is necessary for good fruit set [87,103,168].  Aalders and Hall [1] observed that fruit set ranged from approximately 81 to 90 percent in cross-pollinated plants but from only 0 to 52 percent in self-pollinated plants.  Yields tend to be lower in fields containing both velvetleaf blueberry and early low-bush blueberry than in fields containing only early low-bush blueberry [1].  In some areas, the widespread use of insecticides has decimated wild bee populations. Although honeybees are less effective pollinators than wild bees, growers often add honeybees in an effort to improve fruit set [1,102,111,166].

BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Vaccinium angustifolium
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Early low-bush blueberry is an erect, low-growing, variable shrub that reaches 2 to 24 inches (5-60 cm) in height [17,34,141,157].  It typically forms dense, extensive colonies [157].  Roots are shallow and fibrous but may possess a taproot, which can extend to 3 feet (1 m) in depth [17,66,72].  Woody rhizomes average 0.18 inch (4.5 mm) in diameter and 2.4 inches (6 cm) in depth [56]. Flowers are borne in short, few-flowered terminals or axillary racemes [94,111,157].  Fruit is a globular berry averaging 0.12 to 0.4 inch (4-11 mm) in diameter [94,150]; some cultivars produce fruit up to 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter [7].  The berries are very sweet [150].  Each contains numerous nutlets averaging approximately 0.04 inch (1.2 mm) in length [157]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :       Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Early low-bush blueberry reproduces vegetatively and by seed [72,111]. Seed:  Plants generally first flower at approximately 4 years of age [72].  Researchers have reported a range of 56 to 64 seeds per berry [21,153].  Viability ranges from 30 to 50 percent [153].  Some clones are self-fertile, others self-sterile [1].  Flowers are generally pollinated by wild bees [119].  Shrubs with relatively few flowers may fail to attract pollinators, and shrubs with fewer than 30 flowers rarely produce fruit.  Productive plants may bear more than 400 flowers [156]. Seed dispersal:  Seeds of early low-bush blueberry are dispersed by various birds and mammals [72,124].  In New England and the Maritime Provinces, the American robin and black bear are particularly effective long distance dispersal agents [72,100,,126,154].  Deer mice, chipmunks, and the red-back vole are important local dispersers [9,100]. Seed banking:  Seed banking has not been documented, but researchers have reported the presence of seeds within the top layers of soil [65]. Seed can remain viable for up to 12 years when properly stored [124], and limited seed banking may occur. Germination:  In laboratory tests, germination ranged from 30 to 80 percent [153].  Seed germinates best when exposed to light [72].  Fresh seed germinates readily at 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 deg C) under a regime of 16 hours light per 24-hour period [72].  Germination generally begins within 3 to 4 weeks and continues for 6 to 8 weeks [48]. Stratification and pretreatment with gibberellin can speed germination [48,125]. Seedling establishment:  Seedling establishment appears variable. Seedlings are commonly observed in parts of the Maritime Provinces and in northern Maine [157], where seeds germinate on open sites with high moisture availability [119].  Seedlings are sometimes observed in clearcuts, on burned sites, and in abandoned fields [119].  However, seedlings are rare in eastern Ontario and in many other parts of this species' range [153].  In Ontario, seedling establishment is unlikely unless the following conditions occur: (1) a cool spring follows dispersal, (2) August and September are wet, (3) the winter is mild or there is a good snow cover, and (4) the spring is wet.  These conditions have been observed only once during a 40-year period [153].  Poor seedling establishment is generally attributable to unfavorable soil temperatures and water stress [142]. Vegetative regeneration:  In many areas, vegetative expansion is the primary mode of regeneration [8,153].  In the absence of disturbance, clones increase by expansion of rhizomes [15,119,124].  After fire or other types of disturbance, plants often sprout from the stem base, from underground rhizomes [157], or from unburned belowground portions of aerial stems [15].  Rhizomes subjected to heat treatment often develop significantly greater numbers of shoots than do untreated rhizomes [56]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Early low-bush blueberry grows in a wide variety of habitats [105].  It occurs in mixed conifer and hardwood forests, in headlands, high moors, upland bogs, peaty barrens, along sandy riverbanks, and on exposed rocky outcrops of the Canadian Shield [49,56,105,157].  Early low-bush blueberry is a prominent component of jack pine (Pinus banksiana) barrens, maple groves, oak savannas, and poplar regeneration forests [105,145,157].  It is common in abandoned pastures and clearcuts, and along roadsides [141,157]. Climate:  Early low-bush blueberry is tolerant of a wide range of temperatures [154].  It grows in areas having a dry, sunny, continental climatic regime receiving an average of 20 inches (500 mm) of precipitation annually, as well as in areas having cloudy maritime climates receiving 61 to 79 inches (1,560-1,950 mm) of precipitation annually [83]. Shade:  Shade is detrimental to the growth of early low-bush blueberry in the Atlantic Provinces but is necessary for optimal growth in Manitoba's dry, sunny continental climate [83]. Soils:  Early low-bush blueberry is most commonly associated with light, well-drained acidic soils [124].  Soils generally have a high organic content but may be relatively low in available mineral nutrients [29,77].  Soils are often shallow and discontinuous [152].  Early low-bush blueberry grows on loam, sandy loam, gravelly loam, and silt or clay loam developed from sandstone, shale, or glacial drift [49,78,124]. Parent materials vary but include granite, quartzite, gneiss, shale, and sandstone pavement [152].  In much of eastern Ontario, soils have formed over Precambrian bedrock [137].  Early low-bush blueberry grows on acidic soils with pH ranging from 2.8 to 6.6 [157] but reportedly thrives on soils with a pH of 4.2 to 5.2 [70,97,157].  Plants generally grow better on undisturbed rather then tilled soil [96].  Early low-bush blueberry occurs at elevations from sea level to 4,950 feet (1,500 m) [72,150]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Facultative Seral Species Early low-bush blueberry is an important recolonizer [57].  Its sprouts are prominent on disturbed sites such as clearcuts, burns, fields, and pastures [17,72,157].  Cover is typically higher on fields derived from hayfields than those derived from woodlots [68].  Early low-bush blueberry is an important seral species during the transition from field to forest in various eastern old-field communities [72]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Phenological development of early low-bush blueberry varies according to geographic location and specific weather conditions [22,62]. Temperature and day length are important regulatory influences [72,76]. Initial floral development begins in the year prior to flowering and fruiting [3].  Floral bud primordia appear during June and early July [22] when day length reaches approximately 15 hours [3].  Development may continue until late October if air temperatures remain above 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 deg C) with long periods above 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 deg C) [72].  Leaves harden by mid-July, color by late August, and abscise by late October [72,119]. Plants are dormant in fall [157] and overwinter in a leafless state [72].  Active annual growth can begin as early as March or April [22], but in many areas, both vegetative and flower bud development begins in early May after air temperatures have exceeded 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 deg C) for a least 3 to 4 consecutive days [72].  Vegetative shoots grow until midsummer [83]. Plants generally flower in May or June of their 2nd year [72,167].  A few flowers may open as early as March in unusually good years, and some plants occasionally flower as late as September or October [154]. Flowering may be delayed by 2 or 3 weeks in cool, coastal areas [72]. Fruit generally ripens from midsummer to late summer, approximately 50 days after anthesis [171].  In an Ontario study, seed dispersal began from June 11 to June 20, peaked in early July, and ended in September [153].  Generalized flowering and fruiting dates for various locations are as follows: Location        Flowering               Fruiting         VA              May-June                July-August [150] NS              June-late July          early-mid-August [72,157] Pictou Co.,NS   ----                    July 17- Oct. 27 [151] ME              ----                    mid July-August [77] MI              May-June                July-August [44] NJ              April                   ---- [154] ON              May-early June          June-September [153,154,141].        

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Vaccinium angustifolium
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Early low-bush blueberry is well adapted to fire [29,144].  It generally sprouts from the rhizomes or root crown after aboveground vegetation is removed or damaged by fire.  Some seed may be transported on-site by birds and mammals, but seedling establishment is generally limited to favorable sites in good years and appears to play a minimal role in postfire reestablishment.  Fire removes decadent aboveground vegetation and promotes vigorous growth [29].  In parts of the Maritimes and the northeastern United States, peatlands, lakes, and rocky outcrops serve as natural fire breaks [59].  Fires in these areas are frequently patchy, creating forest openings into which early low-bush blueberry can rapidly expand.  Plants within these openings receive sufficient light for good vigor and fruit production. Fire frequencies vary across its wide range, but early low-bush blueberry appears well adapted to survive in many fire regimes.  In Acadian forests, fire frequencies range from 60 to 1,000 years [55].  In parts of southeastern Labrador, fire occurs an average of once every 500 years [59], and in parts of New Brunswick, an average of once every 370 years [55].  In drier inland areas, fire-free intervals are much shorter. Fire is important in maintaining jack pine communities in which low sweet blueberry occurs as an understory dominant [59].  In jack pine communities of Minnesota, fire frequency has been estimated at 100 years [172].  Fire frequencies in Wisconsin pine barrens have been estimated at 20 to 40 years [163].  Occasional fires maintain the open character of these communities and allow for the continued prominence of early low-bush blueberry. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    Small shrub, adventitious-bud root crown    Rhizomatous shrub, rhizome in soil

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Vaccinium angustifolium
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Early low-bush blueberry is tolerant of heat [56].  Underground portions of the plant generally survive wildfires or prescribed fires [157], even even when all aboveground vegetation is consumed [28,41].  In jack pine barrens, rhizomes have survived brief exposure to fires producing soil surface temperatures up to 1,013 degrees Fahrenheit (545 deg C) [140]. However, exposure to temperatures of 1,295 to 1,513 degrees Fahrenheit (702-823 deg C) for 80 sec apparently resulted in some rhizome mortality [111]. Fire effects vary with fire severity and intensity, and season of burn [136].  Rhizome mortality increases as heat penetration into the soil increases [136].  In a northern Wisconsin muskeg, survival was poor after hot fires burned out layers of sphagnum [161].  Plants are generally most severely harmed by hot summer fires which occur when food reserves are low [55].  Seedlings that lack a well-developed rhizome system are often killed by recurring fires [96]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Early low-bush blueberry generally sprouts from rhizomes and the root crown after aboveground vegetation is consumed by fire [65,83].  Plants may also sprout from buds located on the stem base [83,157], but stems that arise from underground rhizomes are generally more vigorous than those that develop from partially burned aboveground stems [107].  Rhizome sprouting is much slower than crown sprouting [148].  Some reestablishment via seed germination may occur under favorable conditions [117]. Fire intensity and severity, season of burn, community type, and soil are important factors influencing postfire response [138,148,161]. Cover and stem density commonly increase rapidly [55], and recovery may be well underway within 4 to 5 postfire months [55,57].  Early low-bush blueberry was well represented within 4 months after an intense fire destroyed all aboveground vegetation in a spruce stand in Manitoba [84]. In many areas, including parts of Nova Scotia and Ontario, early low-bush blueberry regains prominence 2 to 3 years after fire [6,106,144]. Although initially reduced after fire in jack pine and black spruce communities, early low-bush blueberry increased beyond prefire levels after 5 years [10,42,109].  Recovery may be delayed after hot fires.  Early low-bush blueberry was present within 13 years after a severe wildfire in a red pine-white pine forest [11]. Hall and others [72] reported that V. a. forma nigrum tends to increase more rapidly than does V. a. forma angustifolium in fields that are burned regularly. Fruit is not produced the year of the burn but is produced in abundance during the next 3 postfire years [25,28,161].  In general, young healthy plants regenerate more successfully than older, decadent ones [93].  Where clones are extremely decadent, it may take three seasons of postfire growth before fruit production and vigor reach "satisfactory levels" [131].  Some researchers report that burning too frequently can cause fruit yields to decline [25]. Increases in early low-bush blueberry after fire may be due in part to the stimulatory effect of nutrients added by ash deposition or changes in pH [70].  Blackened ground absorbs heat and may promote earlier fruit ripening [28]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : Season of burn:  In general, early low-bush blueberry is most reduced by summer fires [50].  Flinn and Wein [58] reported higher stem densities after burning in fall, when plants had completed photosynthate storage and had reserves available for new growth.  Smith [138] reported no increases in density or productivity after plants were burned in summer in northern Ontario.  Eaton and White [50] observed that the number of sprouts and flowers was greatest after spring fires.  Plants burned after July 1 did not sprout until the following year [110].  Plants burned in August, September, October, or November, do not sprout until the following spring [50].  Spring fires typically promote fewer competitors than do fall fires [139].  In commercial blueberry fields, increases in dry matter and percent cover have been noted after both spring and fall fires [139]. For further information on early low-bush blueberry to fire, see Fire Case Studies. Also see the Research Project Summary Vegetation change in grasslands and heathlands following multiple spring, summer, and fall prescription fires in Massachusetts, which provides information on prescribed fire and postfire response of plant community species, including early low-bush blueberry, that was not available when this species review was originally written. FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Prescribed fire:  Prescribed fire can be used to improve fruit yields [77,132].  In order to remove decadent aboveground foliage without damaging rhizomes, hot fires should be avoided [124].  Fuels and flammability:  Fuel loads are low and discontinuous in xeric jack pine-red pine forests dominated by early low-bush blueberry, common juniper (Juniperus communis), lichens, and mosses [24].  Fires in these communities tend to be of irregular intensity.  The probability of crown fires increases in later successional stages in more mesic stands [24]. In northeastern New York, Stergas and Adams [145] reported that "fire-line intensities greater than 1500 kW/m can easily develop into crown fires."  Low rates of spread may be necessary to keep a prescribed fire under control given the potential fuel loading and heat content of the aboveground understory vegetation, which is dominated by early low-bush blueberry, black huckleberry, and lichen [143].  Ash content of low sweet blueberry ranges from 4.20 to 4.54 percent, high heat content from 20,134 to 20,298 KgJ/kg, and ash-free high heat content from 21,040 to 21,084 kJ/kg [143]: Wildlife considerations:  In central Wisconsin, prescribed fires are recommended at 4-year intervals where management aims include limiting shrub growth and providing habitat for white-tailed deer, sharp-tailed grouse, and prairie chickens [27].  Fire can be used to aid the restoration of sand barren vegetation [27].  Vogl [163] reported that burning at 10-year intervals would allow early low-bush blueberry to reach maximum fruit yields and allow time for maximum fuel accumulations to reduce competing oaks, aspen, and birch.  Prescribed fire can be used to increase grouse numbers in Pennsylvania hardwood forests with a low sweet blueberry understory [131]. Disease:  Regular burn pruning can limit the spread of red leaf disease [113] and blueberry leaf spot [12].  However, some diseases such as powdery mildew and rust (Pucciniastrum myrtilli) tend to increase with the proliferation of the host plant [12]. Nutrients:  Nutrient content of early low-bush blueberry foliage is altered by burning [29,78,116].  Leaf tissue from burned plants is typically higher in nitrogen and phosphorus [78].  Comparative values are available [29,116].

FIRE CASE STUDIES:

SPECIES: Vaccinium angustifolium
FIRE CASE STUDY CITATION : Tirmenstein, D. A., compiler. 1991. Burn pruning of early low-bush blueberry in Minnesota. In: Vaccinium angustifolium. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/ []. REFERENCE : Shubat, Deborah Jo. 1983. Management of native lowbush blueberry for recreational picking in northeastern Minnesota. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota. 79 p. Thesis. [132]. SEASON/SEVERITY CLASSIFICATION : May/not reported. STUDY LOCATION : Sites are located along Highway 1 in northeastern Minnesota, south of the Ely Airport, and 2 miles north of Silver Bay on Lake Superior.  Specific locations are as follows:      (1) Palisades Site:  located 2.5 miles (4 km) northeast of Silver Bay on             Highway 61. (SW 1/4 Sec 22, T56N, R7W).      (2) Isabella Tracks:  cleared area north of Ely on Highway 1,             approximately 0.5 mile (0.8 km) west of Forest Service             Headquarters at Isabella, Minnesota.  (NE 1/4, SE 1/4, Sec 1,             T59N, R9W).      (3) Isabella Sawbill: 12 miles (19 km) east of Isabella, Minnesota, just             west of Sawbill Landing (NE 1/4 Sec 1, T60N, R8W).      (4) Ely North:  2 miles (3 km) south of Ely Airport on Highway 120 and             Highway 1 (W 1/2, NE 1/4, SW 1/4, Sec 35, T62N, R12W).      (5) Ely South:  located near Ely, Minnesota (SW 1/4, NW 1/4, NW 1/4, Sec             11, T61N, R12W). PREFIRE VEGETATIVE COMMUNITY : The preburn vegetative community consisted of pure open stands of low sweet blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), or stands made up of both low sweet blueberry and velvetleaf blueberry (V. myrtilloides).      (1) Palisade Site:  Early low-bush blueberry plants were short and "stunted."      (2) Isabella Tracks:  Velvetleaf blueberry was the primary lowbush            blueberry at this site.      (3) Isabella Sawbill:  This stand was made up of young, vigorous low             sweet blueberry plants.      (4) Ely North:  Many weedy species were intermixed with early low-bush             blueberry.      (5) Ely South:  This stand exhibited few weedy plants.  The soil surface             was cover with decomposing branches and small logs.  Early low-bush             blueberry plants were described as vigorous. TARGET SPECIES PHENOLOGICAL STATE : not reported SITE DESCRIPTION : Paired plots, burned and unburned, were located at four of the location. The fifth site (Palisade) had only the unburned plot.  All plots were on level ground in full sun.  Soils were as follows:            P         IT           IS           EN           ES                   a      b      a     b      a      b      a     b pH        4.5    5.3    5.3    5.3   5.4    5.0    5.4    5.0   4.1 organic  matter   high   low    low    low    med.  low    low    low   med. nitrogen  low    low    low    low    low   low    low    low   low texture   loam  loamy  sandy  loamy  loamy  loamy  sand  loamy  sand                  sand   loam   sand   sand   sand         sand  a unburned plot   P  Palisade site     IS Isabella Sawbill site b burn plot       ES  Ely South site   IT Isabella Tracks site                   EN  Ely North site FIRE DESCRIPTION :       Palisades Site - not burned.       Isabella Tracks - mechanically pruned and burn-pruned plots.       Isabella Sawbill - mechanically pruned and burn-pruned plots.       Ely North - mechanically pruned and burn-pruned plots.       Ely South - mechanically pruned and burn-pruned plots. Dried straw was spread across the burn-pruned plots prior to ignition. FIRE EFFECTS ON TARGET SPECIES :              stems/     flower buds/      stem length       stand              0.1 m sq.  plant                 (cm)          age (yrs) Isabella Tracks-   unburned     2.3          6                 22               3   burned       2            8                 24               3 Isabella Sawbill   unburned     3           2.3                22               2.6   burned       5           2.4                22               2 Ely North       unburned     2           2                  23               4   burned       2.3         1                  23               4 Ely South   unburned     3          11.6                35               4   burned       2           5.5                25               5 FIRE MANAGEMENT IMPLICATIONS : Both burning and mechanical pruning increased stem numbers.  However, mechanically pruned plants produced more flower buds than the burn-pruned plants.  Tests indicated that mulch should not be applied to recently pruned plants.  Fertilizers proved to be most effective on mechanically pruned and untreated plants.  They had little effect on recently burned plants.  Best results were observed when plants were mechanically clipped or fire pruned in April or November.  This experiment suggests that semicultivated stands of early low-bush blueberry in Minnesota may need to be pruned every 4 to 5 years rather than every other year as is most common in parts of the Northeast.

REFERENCES

SPECIES: Vaccinium angustifolium
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