Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Vaccinium arboreum

Introductory

SPECIES: Vaccinium arboreum
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Tirmenstein, D. A. 1991. Vaccinium arboreum. 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 : VACARB SYNONYMS : Vaccinium diffusum Batodendron arboreum Batodendron andrachniforme Batodendron glaucescens SCS PLANT CODE : VAAR COMMON NAMES : tree sparkleberry sparkleberry sparkle-berry tree huckleberry huckleberry winter huckleberry farkleberry Missouri farkleberry whortleberry gooseberry TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of tree sparkleberry is Vaccinium arboreum Marshall [34]. Kartesz and Kartesz [16] recognize the following varieties: Vaccinium arboreum var. arboreum Vaccinium arboreum var. glaucescens (Greene) Sarg. Still, many authorities do not delineate varieties of tree sparkleberry. Tree sparkleberry is the sole North American representative of the section Batodendron (Nutt.) A. Gray. L. T. within the family Ericaceae [45,46]. LIFE FORM : Shrub, Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Vaccinium arboreum
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Tree sparkleberry grows from central Florida westward to central Oklahoma, southeastern Missouri, southeastern Kansas, and the Edwards Plateau of Texas [6,22,38]. It extends northward to southern Illinois, southern Indiana, and Virginia [22,49]. Tree sparkleberry is rare and local in Kentucky, Virginia, Illinois, and Indiana [45]. Uttal [44] has reported that it occurs in parts of Mexico and the West Indies. The variety glaucescens grows from Louisiana, Texas, and Oklahoma, northward to Kentucky, Missouri, and Illinois [48]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine FRES14 Oak - pine FRES15 Oak - hickory STATES : AL AR FL GA IL IN KS KY LA MS MO NC OK SC TN TX VA MEXICO BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K074 Bluestem prairie K082 Mosaic of K074 and K100 K084 Cross Timbers K090 Live oak - sea oats K091 Cypress savanna K100 Oak - hickory forest K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest K112 Southern mixed forest K113 Southern floodplain forest K115 Sand pine scrub K116 Subtropical pine forest SAF COVER TYPES : 23 Eastern hemlock 40 Post oak - blackjack oak 51 White pine - chestnut oak 53 White oak 69 Sand pine 70 Longleaf pine 71 Longleaf pine - scrub oak 73 Southern redcedar 75 Shortleaf pine 76 Shortleaf pine - oak 78 Virginia pine - oak 79 Virginia pine 80 Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine 81 Loblolly pine 82 Loblolly pine - hardwood 83 Longleaf pine - slash pine 84 Slash pine 85 Slash pine - hardwood 89 Live oak 91 Swamp chestnut oak - cherrybark oak 92 Sweetgum - willow oak 93 Sugarberry - American elm - green ash 104 Sweetbay - swamp tupelo - redbay 111 South Florida slash pine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Tree sparkleberry is listed as an indicator in the following community type classification. Blackjack oak (Quercus marilandica) and hickory (Carya spp.) codominate these often infertile sites. Area Classification Authority e OK, n AR southern pine cts Silker 1971

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Vaccinium arboreum
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : The wood of tree sparkleberry is brown to reddish-brown, fine-grained, tough and hard [38,48,52]. Wood weighs an average of 48 pounds per cubic foot (112 kg/cu m) [48]. It was formerly used to make various tool handles and craft items [48,52]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Browse: White-tailed deer browse tree sparkleberry in many areas [15,21]. It is considered an important summer deer food in parts of Georgia [15]. Many species of hares and rabbits also feed on the leaves and twigs of species within this genus [45]. Fruit and flowers: A wide variety of birds and mammals readily feed on the fruit of tree sparkleberry [38,48]. Fruits and flowers provide spring and summer food for the bobwhite quail [15]. Black bear, chipmunks, and many species of birds, including the American robin, ruffed grouse, and tanagers, feed on the fruit of Vacciniums [45]. Flowers are attractive to various bees [44]. PALATABILITY : Tree sparkleberry browse is reportedly of "low to medium" palatability to white-tailed deer [21]. Berries are palatable to many species of birds and mammals. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Nutrient content of tree sparkleberry browse varies by season and burn history of a particular site [20]. Food values are as follows [20]: Date burn nutrient content (%) at 15% moisture level sampled history %air dry protein fat fiber N-free ash phos- Ca (#burns weight extract phoric reported) acid spring none 26.4 9.75 3.93 25.46 40.47 5.39 0.23 0.39 spring 1 22.9 13.25 7.85 13.78 47.37 2.75 0.37 0.32 summer none 37.8 6.65 4.45 22.46 48.19 3.24 0.15 0.87 summer 1 32.0 7.50 4.13 17.01 53.52 2.84 0.18 0.52 summer 2 34.6 7.17 -- -- -- -- 0.17 - summer 3 22.9 11.13 -- -- -- -- 0.32 - fall none 41.0 6.64 4.66 21.27 48.43 4.00 0.12 1.11 fall 1 45.5 6.29 4.80 20.73 49.75 3.42 0.14 0.79 winter none 48.2 5.31 4.51 26.15 45.60 3.44 0.14 1.01 winter 1 42.9 6.63 4.07 22.19 47.94 4.16 0.20 0.91 winter 2 49.3 5.51 4.07 23.85 48.38 3.18 0.14 0.78 winter 3 44.2 6.35 2.96 21.88 50.44 3.38 0.15 0.61 COVER VALUE : Stephens [38] reported that most birds rarely nest in tree sparkleberry and typically seek out denser vegetation. However, Thackston and others [42] noted that shrubby thickets of tree sparkleberry form favored activity centers for transplanted ruffed grouse in northern Georgia. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : Tree sparkleberry bark was formerly used in tanning leathers [48]. Extracts obtained from roots were traditionally used to treat diarrhea [48]. Unlike the fruit of most Vacciniums, the berries of tree sparkleberry are inedible to humans [44]. Tree sparkleberry flowers abundantly and is "very ornamental" [44]. Flowers are a good source of nectar for foraging honey bees [44]. Tree sparkleberry may have potential value for developing commercial fruit-producing strains of blueberries [2]. Highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) can be grafted onto the rootstock of tree sparkleberry. The resulting cultivars are well suited to droughty upland sites with soils with a relatively high pH [2]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Fruit production: Fruit production is highly variable in tree sparkleberry. Yields are generally greater in older burned stands than in young open stands [15]. Plants in pine plantations may not bear fruit [15]. [See Fire Management Considerations]. Grazing: Tree sparkleberry apparently decreases in response to heavy livestock grazing. Cover by grazing intensity was as follows in an eastern Louisiana study [8]: light medium heavy grazed ungrazed grazed ungrazed grazed ungrazed control control control .15 .32 .13 .14 .01 .00 Chemical control: Tree sparkleberry is resistant to aerially applied herbicides [36]. Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) exhibit variable susceptibility to herbicides such as 2,4-D, 2,4,5-T, glyphosate, karbutilate, and picloram [51]. Drought resistance: Although reportedly resistant to drought [2], plants occasionally succumb during extreme dry periods [45].

BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Vaccinium arboreum
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Tree sparkleberry grows as a large, much-branched, upright shrub or small tree [13,34,48]. Individuals may grow as tall plants with rounded crowns, or as flat-topped shrubs with crooked branches [38]. Shrubby plants commonly reach only 7 to 10 feet (2-3 m) in height [38,45]. However, on favorable sites, plants may grow to 33 feet (10 m) with a d.b.h. of up to 14 inches (35 cm) [38,45]. Record trees have been measured at 64 feet (19 m) in height with circumferences of up to 116 inches (45.9 cm) [25]. Tree sparkleberry is the only member of the Vaccinium genus to reach tree size [22]. Shrubby plants commonly form loose thickets [38]. The outer bark is gray to grayish-brown, thin, and smooth, with narrow ridges [48]. The slender, rigid twigs are reddish-brown to reddish-green or gray, and glaucous, glabrous, or glandular-pubescent [38,44,45]. Stem morphology has been reported in detail [32]. Leaves of tree sparkleberry are variable in size, shape, and persistence [38]. Plants tend to be deciduous in the north but evergreen in the southern part of the species' range [13,48]. The simple, alternate leaves are coriaceous, glabrous, and lustrous above [38,45]. The lower surface is glaucous, duller green, and often glandular-pubescent [45,48]. Leaves are obovate to elliptic, approximately 1 to 3 inches (3-8 cm) in length with entire or obscurely denticulate margins [44,48]. The showy, white to pinkish flowers of tree sparkleberry grow in abundance [44,48]. The perfect flowers are borne in leafy-bracted racemes or panicles that average 0.8 to 2.7 inches (2-7 cm) in length [13,48]. Inflorescences typically occur on second year growth [34]. Palser [33] has examined floral morphology in detail. Fruit is a black, lustrous, globose berry 0.2 to 0.4 inch (5-9 mm) in diameter [34,45,48]. Berries are sweet but dry, hard, and mealy [2,48]. The fruit typically persists well into the winter months [44,48]. Each berry contains 8 to 10 stony, shiny, black to golden-brown seeds [2,38,48,52]. The variously-shaped, deeply pitted seeds average 0.08 inch (2 mm) in length [45,48]. The variety glaucescens is distinguished by a larger inflorescence and glaucescent leaves [48]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Tree sparkleberry normally fruits after attaining "the height of a large shrub or tall tree" [15]. Fruit production is apparently somewhat erratic. In some years fruit production is prolific, but in other years, plants produce no fruit [40]. Stephens [38] reported that even plants that flower in abundance commonly produce only sparse amounts of fruit. Various birds and mammals serve as dispersal agents. Seedling establishment presumably occurs when conditions are favorable. Germination characteristics are unknown. Although many ericaceous shrubs sprout after aboveground foliage is damaged or destroyed, sprouting has apparently not been documented in tree sparkleberry. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Tree sparkleberry grows on sand dunes, hammocks, granitic outcrops, dry sterile hillsides, in rocky woods, abandoned fields, and meadows [37,38,41,45,49]. It also occurs on a variety of moist sites such as in wet bottomlands and along creek banks [37,41,45]. Tree sparkleberry is common throughout much of the Coastal Plain and in the Piedmont [34]. In the southern Appalachians, plants generally grow below 2,591 feet (790 m) in elevation [52]. Tree sparkleberry grows in many plant communities including mixed swamps, cypress heads or domes, bayheads, and sand hills [19,28,29,30]. It also occurs in many xeric mixed pine-hardwood forests, pine flatwoods, post oak savanna, and sand-pine scrub [19,37,45]. Common overstory dominants include longleaf pine (Pinus palustris), loblolly pine (P. taeda), slash pine (P. elliottii), shortleaf pine (P. echinata), turkey oak (Quercus laevis), live oak (Q. virginana), blackjack oak, hickory, black swamp tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica), and sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) [5,7,9,12,26,36,40]. Toward the northern portion of its range in Missouri and Illinois, tree sparkleberry may be an important mid-canopy species in eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) or eastern redcedar-post oak (Quercus stellata) stands [31,50]. Understory associates: Common understory associates in longleaf pine and longleaf-slash pine communities include deerberry (Vaccinium stamineum), flameleaf sumac (Rhus copallina), poison-ivy (Toxicodendron radicans), southern bayberry (Myrica cerifera), bluejack oak (Quercus incana), gum bumelia (Bumelia languginosa), yaupon (Ilex vomitoria), and muscadine grape (Vitis rotundifolia) [5,24,39]. Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), possumhaw (Ilex decidua), yaupon, saw greenbriar (Smilax bona-nox), common greenbrier (S. rotundifolia), rusty blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum), muscadine grape, and various oaks are common components of loblolly-shortleaf pine forests [4,7,40]. Other common associates include hawthorne (Crataegus spp.), common persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), sweet bay (Magnolia grandiflora), red bay (Persea borbonia), hackberry (Celtis spp.), water oak (Quercus nigra), and coast laurel oak (Q. laurifolia) [9,14,37]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Tree sparkleberry grows in many successional stages in pine-oak-hickory and evergreen oak-hardwood forests of Florida [18]. It is an important component of "subclimax" communities in loblolly pine-shortleaf pine stands [4] and grows in successional cypress dome and flatwood communities [29]. Tree sparkleberry invades mesic sites in longleaf pine-turkey oak sandhill communities of Florida [47]. It also assumes prominence in some "young" forest-grassland communities of eastern Texas [37]. Tree sparkleberry grows in all successional phases of many pine-hardwood communities [37]. It occurs as an understory dominant with deerberry, flameleaf sumac, poison-ivy, southern bayberry, and American beauty-berry (Callicarpa americana) on "less frequently burned" sites in longleaf pine-shortleaf pine forests [5]. Where fires occur at frequent intervals, bluejack oak, post oak, blackjack oak, sweetgum, flowering dogwood, and loblolly pine are more common [5]. Tree sparkleberry is a component of seasonally flooded bayheads and southern mixed hardwood swamps which are considered climax communities [29]. It also grows in southern mixed hardwood forests which represent the dominant climax upland vegetation over most of the southeastern Coastal Plain [29]. Tree sparkleberry occurs in dry, old growth upland stands with such species as bluejack oak, loblolly pine, longleaf pine, sweetgum, and gum bumelia [24]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Tree sparkleberry flowers in late spring or summer. Some plants flower much earlier than others at the same geographic location [52]. Fruit ripens over a relatively long period [38], with ovules maturing in approximately 200 days [45]. Fruit commonly persists into the winter months [48]. Flowering and fruiting by geographic location is as follows: Location Flowering Fruiting Authority SC, NC late April-June Sept.-Oct. Radford and other 1968 FL March-April Aug.-Oct. Ward 1974 (infreq. in Feb., July) Great Plains May-June Aug.-Sept. Great Plains Flora Association 1986 c Great Plains late May Sept.-Oct. Stephens 1973 VA April-May June-Nov. Uttal 1987 se U.S. March-July ---- Duncan and Duncan 1988

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Vaccinium arboreum
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Tree sparkleberry occurs in many pine flatwood and sand pine scrub communities that are essentially maintained by fire [27]. During recent years, fire suppression has contributed to the decline of these communities [1]. Many of these communities are now being replaced by southern mixed hardwood forests, bayheads, and swamps [29]. However, tree sparkleberry also occurs in these communities and often assumes greater relative prominence in areas with longer fire-free intervals. In longleaf pine-shortleaf pine communities, tree sparkleberry reaches greatest abundance on less frequently burned sites [5]. Individuals on relatively nonflammable microsites, such as in moist areas or on rocky sites lacking fuels, may be somewhat protected from the effects of fire. Vegetative regeneration is not known to occur in this species, but many Vacciniums are capable of sprouting after aboveground foliage is damaged by fire. Tree sparkleberry presumably reoccupies a site through bird- and mammal- dispersed seed. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Vaccinium arboreum
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Tree sparkleberry can be girdled and killed by fire [36]. Following a prescribed burn near Nacogdoches, Texas, mortality of important understory species, including tree sparkleberry, ranged from 11 to 31 percent [40]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : The fire response of tree sparkleberry has not been well documented. Average height was reduced by a winter fire near Nacogdoches, Texas, but the average number of stems per plant increased [40]. Response was as follows [40]: winter burn - March 1974 control 1973 1975 1973 1975 avg. ht. (cm) 243 214 288 317 avg. # stems/ plant 1.15 1.69 1.07 1.00 Many ericaceous shrubs sprout from the root crown or rhizomes after aboveground vegetation is destroyed by fire. The postfire increase in stems per plant suggests that sprouting may sometimes occur. However, sprouting in tree sparkleberry has not been discussed in the available literature. Reestablishment presumably occurs through seedling establishment where plants are killed by fire. Many birds and mammals transport seed from adjacent unburned areas. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Wildlife management: Prescribed fire can be an effective means of managing tree sparkleberry thickets for wildlife habitat in some areas [42]. Prescribed fire can promote livestock forage and deer browse [21] and may have some potential for increasing fruit production [40]. Deer utilization of tree sparkleberry before and after a prescribed fire in Texas was as follows [21]: unburned burned 1958 1959 1960 1958 1959 1960 (before fire) (after fire) (percent utilization) 6 17 11 4 57 18 However, researchers caution that excessive burning for wildlife can result in loss of overstory and midstory hardwoods [21]. Prescribed fire: Managers frequently spray herbicides on southern pine forests and allow 2 years for the release of native bunchgrasses [36]. Bunchgrass development provides a uniform fuel for subsequent prescribed fires. Backfires can then be used to kill "low quality" hardwoods such as tree sparkleberry [36]. However, researchers note that blackjack oak-hickory-tree sparkleberry associations commonly occur on poor sites [36]. Limited growth potential on these sites may make prescribed burning for hardwood control uneconomical [36]. Nutrient content: Nutrient content of tree sparkleberry browse may be altered by burning. [See Food Value].

REFERENCES

SPECIES: Vaccinium arboreum
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The North American blueberries with notes on other groups of Vacciniaceae. Brittonia. 5(3): 203-275. [9515] 7. Harlow, Richard F.; Bielling, Paul. 1961. Controlled burning studies in longleaf pine-turkey oak association on the Ocala National Forest. Proceeding, Annual Conference of Southeastern Association of Game and Fish. 15: 9-24. [9905] 8. Clary, Warren P. 1979. Grazing and overstory effects on rotationally burned slash pine plantation ranges. Journal of Range Management. 32(4): 264-266. [9657] 9. Daubenmire, Rexford. 1990. The Magnolia grandiflora-Quercus virginiana forest of Florida. American Midland Naturalist. 123: 331-347. [10871] 10. Eyre, F. H., ed. 1980. Forest cover types of the United States and Canada. Washington, DC: Society of American Foresters. 148 p. [905] 11. Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 1977. Vegetation and environmental features of forest and range ecosystems. Agric. Handb. 475. 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New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station. 17 p. [10556] 26. McGinty, Douglas T.; Christy, E. Jennifer. 1977. Turkey oak ecology on a Georgia sandhill. American Midland Naturalist. 98(2): 487-491. [6431] 27. Monk, Carl D. 1965. Southern mixed hardwood forest of northcentral Florida. Ecological Monographs. 35: 335-354. [9263] 28. Monk, Carl D. 1966. An ecological study of hardwood swamps in north-central Florida. Ecology. 47: 649-654. [10802] 29. Monk, Carl D. 1968. Successional and environmental relationships of the forest vegetation of north central Florida. American Midland Naturalist. 79(2): 441-457. [10847] 30. Monk, Carl D.; Brown, Timothy W. 1965. Ecological consideration of cypress heads in north-central Florida. American Midland Naturalist. 74: 126-140. [10848] 31. Nelson, Paul; Ladd, Douglas. 1983. Preliminary report on the identification, distribution and classification of Missouri glades. In: Kucera, Clair L., ed. 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