Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Vaccinium corymbosum


SPECIES: Vaccinium corymbosum
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Uchytil, Ronald J. 1993. Vaccinium corymbosum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : VACCOR SYNONYMS : Cyanococcus corymbosus (L.) Rydb. Vaccinium constablaei Gray Vaccinium corymbosum L. var. albiflorum (Hook.) Fernald Vaccinium corymbosum L. var. glabrum A. Gray SCS PLANT CODE : VACO COMMON NAMES : highbush blueberry high-bush blueberry northern highbush blueberry tall blueberry rabbiteye blueberry TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of highbush blueberry is Vaccinium corymbosum L. (Ericaceae)[24]. It is a member of the true blueberry section Cyanococcus. The highbush blueberry complex is highly variable and includes diploids, tetraploids, hexaploids, and various hybrid combinations [7,24]. It has long been a subject of taxonomic confusion and controversy; numerous taxonomic treatments have been proposed. Named hybrids include: Vaccinium atlanticum Bicknell, Atlantic blueberry Highbush blueberry also hybridizes with low sweet blueberry (V. angustifolium) [24]. LIFE FORM : Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO ENTRY


SPECIES: Vaccinium corymbosum
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Highbush blueberry grows from northeastern Illinois and northern Indiana northeastward to southwestern Nova Scotia, south to Florida, and west to northeastern Texas and adjacent Oklahoma [24]. The species is absent or rare in Missouri, central Ohio, western Kentucky, western Tennessee, West Virginia, and central Pennsylvania [24]. It has been introduced outside of its natural range for commercial berry production in Wisconsin, Washington, British Columbia, and New Brunswick [26]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES10 White - red - jack pine FRES11 Spruce - fir FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine FRES14 Oak - pine FRES15 Oak - hickory FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress FRES18 Maple - beech - birch FRES19 Aspen - birch STATES : AL AR CT DE FL GA IL IN KY LA ME MD MA MI MS NH NJ NY NC OH PA RI SC TN TX VT VA WA WV WI BC NS ON PQ BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K091 Cypress savanna K094 Conifer bog K096 Northeastern spruce - fir forest K097 Southeastern spruce - fir forest K100 Oak - hickory forest K104 Appalachian oak forest K106 Northern hardwoods K107 Northern hardwoods - fir forest K108 Northern hardwoods - spruce forest K109 Transition between K104 and K106 K112 Southern mixed forest K113 Southern floodplain forest K116 Subtropical pine forest SAF COVER TYPES : 13 Black spruce - tamarack 16 Aspen 18 Paper birch 19 Gray birch - red maple 30 Red spruce - yellow birch 31 Red spruce - sugar maple - beech 32 Red spruce 33 Red spruce - balsam fir 34 Red spruce - Fraser fir 35 Paper birch - red spruce - balsam fir 37 Northern white-cedar 38 Tamarack 44 Chestnut oak 45 Pitch pine 52 White oak - black oak - northern red oak 53 White oak 55 Northern red oak 59 Yellow-poplar - white oak - northern red oak 65 Pin oak - sweetgum 70 Longleaf pine 81 Loblolly pine 84 Slash pine 97 Atlantic white-cedar 100 Pondcypress 101 Baldcypress 108 Red maple 111 South Florida slash pine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Highbush blueberry occupies numerous habitats but seldom occurs as community dominant. Two habitats where it occurs as a dominant or codominant are open swamps or bogs and high-elevation balds. In the Appalachian Oak and Northern Hardwood Regions highbush-blueberry-dominated thickets are common on peatlands with strong water-level fluctuations and weakly minerotrophic water [3,12]. Thickets may also occur on a quaking mat. Codominants include swamp azalea (Rhododendron viscosum), downy blueberry (V. attrococcum), mountain holly (Nemopanthus mucronata), black huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata), cinnamon fern (Osmunda cinnamomea), casandra (Chamaedaphne calyculata), black chokeberry (Aronia melanocarpa), and sheep laurel (Kalmia angustifolia) [3,4,11,12]. Highbush blueberry codominates high elevation "heath balds" with rhododendrons (Rhododendron spp.) [28]. Highbush-blueberry-dominated communities have been described in the following publications: Vegetation of the Great Smoky Mountains [28] Community classification of the vascular vegetation of a New Hampshire peatland [4] The vegetation of the low-shrub bogs of northern New Jersey and adjacent New York: ecosystems at their southern limit [12] The ecology of peat bogs of the glaciated northeastern United States: a community profile [3] Demography and age structure of a central New York shrub-carr 94 years after fire [12]


SPECIES: Vaccinium corymbosum
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Blueberry fruits provide important summer and early fall food for numerous species of birds. In the Southeast, blueberries are a preferred summer food of wild turkey, ruffed grouse, and quail [26]. As much as 19 percent of the summer diet of quail may consist of blueberries [26]. Songbirds which feed heavily on the fruits of highbush blueberry include the scarlet tanager, eastern bluebird, scrub jay, rufous-sided towhee, gray catbird, northern mockingbird, brown thrasher, northern cardinal, and the American robin and several other thrushes [18,26,27]. Mammals that often consume blueberries include the black bear, red fox, cottontail, fox squirrel, white-footed mouse, and skunks and chipmunks [13,18]. PALATABILITY : NO ENTRY NUTRITIONAL VALUE : The principal components of highbush blueberry berries are water, sugars, crude proteins, vitamins, fats (in seeds), and fiber [26]. They are a good source of vitamin C and natural sugars and contain moderate amounts of trace minerals and other vitamins [17]. One-half cup of berries contains 41 calories, 1.96 grams of dietary fiber, and 9.6 mg of vitamin C [17]. Vander Kloet and Austin-Smith [27] reported that seed and pulp energy varied considerably among highbush blueberries from three geographic locations. Northern plants produced fruit with low seed energy and high pulp energy, while southern plants produced fruit with high seed energy and low pulp energy. Mean pulp caloric values for three populations varied as follows: Florida - 52 calories/berry Nova Scotia - 141 calories/berry Ontario - 184 calories/berry COVER VALUE : NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : NO-ENTRY OTHER USES AND VALUES : Highbush blueberry fruit was eaten by Native Americans. Leaves and flowers were used for various medicinal purposes [26]. Highbush blueberry is one of the most agriculturally important blueberries of North America. It is extensively cultivated in New Jersey, Michigan, North Carolina, and Washington and to a lesser extent in Georgia, Florida, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, and Nova Scotia [26]. In 1989, there were over 100,000 acres (40,000 ha) in commercial highbush blueberry production in North America [8]. Berry yields in commercial fields often average 2 to 2.5 tons per acre (4.5-5.5 t/ha) [8]. Since the 1920's, more than 50 highbush cultivars have been developed [26]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO ENTRY


SPECIES: Vaccinium corymbosum
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Highbush blueberry is a crown-forming deciduous shrub with two to five stems arising from a single bole. It typically grows from 6.5 to 10 feet (2-3 m) in height. The fruit is a sweet, juicy, blue-black berry about 0.3 to 0.4 inch (7 to 10 mm) in diameter, containing several small seeds (nutlet) about 0.05 inch (1.2 mm) long [24,26]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Highbush blueberry primarily reproduces from seed. Bees are the primary pollinator. It typically produces abundant fruit annually. In Florida, 5-foot-tall (1.5 m) shrubs annually produc an average of 231,000 ovules, of which about 11 percent (25,410) develop into seeds [26]. Mature, commercially grown 8- to 10-year-old plants often yield 8 to 10 pints of fruit per year [18]. Highbush blueberry seeds are dispersed in the droppings of frugivorous birds and mammals. Long-distance dispersal is rare because most animals which consume highbush blueberries are territorial. Even when fruit ripening coincides with migration of songbirds, dispersal distances are short because berry pulp rarely stays in the gut of cropless birds for more than 20 minutes [26]. In the southern portion of its range, highbush blueberry fruits are dispersed sporadically from late March through June. These seeds have thick seed coats and require cold stratification before germination can occur [21]. Germination typically occurs in the winter following spring dispersal. In contrast, plants of northern latitudes have thinner seed coats and germinate in the autumn shortly after dispersal [27,29]. In Florida, highbush blueberry averaged 16 seeds per berry, of which 57 percent germinated when placed in an illuminated misting chamber [26]. Germination percent is reduced at least 15 percent after passing through the digestive system of a bird or mammal [9]. Vegetative regeneration: Highbush blueberry rarely produces rhizomes except in a few isolated populations in the Florida panhandle, on isolated mountain peaks in North Carolina and Tennessee, and in eastern Quebec where it introgresses with low sweet blueberry [25]. Layering has been observed only in populations in Ontario and Quebec [26]. When "disturbed or burnt" the plant occasionally produces new plants from root sprouts 3 to 6 feet (1-2 m) away from the parent [26]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Highbush blueberry is intolerant of shade [18]. Along the Atlantic Coast and in the Great Lakes region, highbush blueberry is most frequently found at relatively low elevations along the edges of swamps and bogs; along the sandy margins of lakes, ponds, and streams; and within open areas of moist woods [18,26]. It is less abundant in flatwoods, gray birch (Betula populifolia) scrubland, pine barrens, bayheads, upland ericaceous meadows, upland woods, ravines, and mountain summits. It rarely occurs in xeric pine-oak woods and cut-over pine savannas [26]. Highbush blueberry grows best on hummocks or raised bogs which provide moist, acidic, well-aerated, highly-organic soils optimal for growth [17,18]. It is typically observed on soil with pH values between 2.7 and 6.6 and where nitrogen and phosphorus are quite low [24]. Plants can withstand extended periods of flooding [1]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Because of its shade-intolerance, highbush blueberry is restricted to open swamps and bogs, lakeshores and streamsides, open woods, and high-elevation balds. Such habitats represent intermediate stages of succession. Highbush blueberry can be eliminated from sites as overstory cover and shading increase. In shrub bogs in northern Illinois, highbush blueberry was largely replaced by the shading and competitive effects of glossy-leaved buckthorn (Rhamnus framgula) [22]. Fire can be an important factor in creating shade-free environments for highbush blueberry. A shrub-carr in New York codominated by mountain holly and highbush blueberry was created by a severe swamp fire in 1892 which consumed over 3 feet (1 m) of peat. Although this shrub community represents an intermediate stage of succession between wet meadow and forested wetland, it is relatively stable. Size and age structure of the two dominant shrubs in 1986 showed an inverse j-shaped distribution indicative of self-maintaining populations; the dense shrub community is only slowly progressing to black spruce (Picea mariana) and tamarack (Larix laricina) [11]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : In the southern portion of its range, highbush blueberry flowers sporadically over a 2- to 3-month period. North of latitude 44 degrees N., flowering is synchronous and lasts a maximum of 25 days [24]. Flowers open as the leaves unfold or rarely when the leaves are half developed [21]. Fruiting begins about 62 days after flowering and is thus asynchronous in the south and synchronous in the north. Vander Kloet and Austin-Smith [27] speculate that the fruit ripening patterns of highbush blueberry may be related to the nutritional needs of avian seed dispersers. Mass fruiting in the north occurs in summer when avian dispersers are numerous. Beginning of anthesis is as follows [24]: south Florida - mid-February Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, northern Florida - March Piedmont - early April Appalachians and Ouachitas - late April to early May Carolinas - late March to early April Virginia, Delaware, New Jersey - late April to early May Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, New England - early to late May southern Ontario, Michigan - mid-May to early June eastern Ontario, Quebec - early June to late June southwestern Nova Scotia - mid-June Fruit ripening is as follows [24]: Florida - early April until November Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina - May to June, but not until August in the mountains Michigan to Quebec, New York and New England - July and August


SPECIES: Vaccinium corymbosum
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Highbush blueberry is not rhizomatous [25]. Little quantitative information has been written about its sprouting ability; what has been reported appears contradictory . Vander Kloet [24] described highbush blueberry as crown forming shrubs from a single bole that occasionally sucker "when disturbed or burnt." Describing V. ashei [V. corymbosum] Camp [2] stated that the species occurs where protected from fire and that "the ease by which various of its forms are killed by fire may explain their apparent scarcity today in certain areas where they might be expected." These authors indicate that highbush blueberry is not a vigorous sprouter following fire. However, a study by LeBlanc and Leopold [11] in a central New York shrubby swamp thicket indicates that highbush blueberry is a good sprouter following disturbance. Two years after stems were cut at ground level, highbush blueberry sprouts averaged 6.9 inches (17.4 cm) in height. LeBlanc and Leopold concluded that this population of highbush blueberry was being maintained through sprout recruitment. Thus, at least at this central New York site, highbush blueberry is a vigorous sprouter following disturbance. Fire may create shade-free environments favorable for highbush blueberry growth. It seems probable that highbush blueberry seeds would be dispersed onto burned sites in animal droppings. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Tall shrub, adventitious-bud root crown Secondary colonizer - off-site seed


SPECIES: Vaccinium corymbosum
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : NO ENTRY DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Severe fires may remove trees and create openings favorable for highbush blueberry. Twenty-five years after a stand-destroying fire in a red spruce (Picea rubens)-Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) forest at about 5,500 feet (1,676 m) elevation in North Carolina, highbush blueberry was the dominant shrub, with over 26,300 stems per acre (65,000/ha). This constituted 15.8 percent of total shrub stems [19]. In a central New York shrub-carr created by a severe wildfire in 1892 which consumed over 3 feet (1 m) of peat, highbush blueberry codominated the site with mountain holly and black chokeberry in 1986. Early photographs indicate that shrubs dominated the site by the 1940's [11]. Burning favored highbush blueberry in the Great Dismal Swamp of southeastern Virginia. Highbush blueberry was present on logged (2 successive cuts 1970 and 1974) and unlogged areas swept by a late summer wildfire in 1975 which burned 12 inches (30 cm) of peat, but was not present on control areas. Peak biomass values (g/m2/year) for highbush blueberry 1 to 2 years after burning were as follows [14]: cut-burned area uncut-burned area control area 11.31 66.52 0 DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : NO ENTRY


SPECIES: Vaccinium corymbosum
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Garrison, George A.; Bjugstad, Ardell J.; Duncan, Don A.; [and others]. 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] 7. Godfrey, Robert K. 1988. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of northern Florida and adjacent Georgia and Alabama. Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press. 734 p. [10239] 8. Hancock, James F.; Draper, Arlen D. 1989. Blueberry culture in North America. HortScience. 24(4): 551-556. [9513] 9. Krefting, Laurits W.; Roe, Eugene I. 1949. The role of some birds and mammals in seed germination. Ecological Monographs. 19(3): 269-286. [8847] 10. Kuchler, A. W. 1964. Manual to accompany the map of potential vegetation of the conterminous United States. Special Publication No. 36. New York: American Geographical Society. 77 p. [1384] 11. LeBlanc, Cheryl M.; Leopold, Donald J. 1992. Demography and age structure of a central New York shrub-carr 94 years after fire. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 119(1): 50-64. [18208] 12. Lynn, Les M.; Karlin, Eric F. 1985. The vegetation of the low-shrub bogs of northern New Jersey and adjacent New York: ecosystems at their southern limit. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 112(4): 436-444. [20276] 13. Sampson, Arthur W.; Chase, Agnes; Hedrick, Donald W. 1951. California grasslands and range forage grasses. Bull. 724. Berkeley, CA: University of California College of Agriculture, California Agricultural Experiment Station. 125 p. [2052] 14. McKinley, Carol E.; Day, Frank P., Jr. 1979. Herbaceous production in cut- burned, uncut-burned, and control areas of a Chamaecyparis thyoides (L.) BSP (Cupressaceae) stand in the Great Dismal Swamp. Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club. 106(1): 20-28. [41796] 15. Pritts, Marvin P.; Hancock, James F. 1985. Lifetime biomass partitioning and yield component relationships in the highbush blueberry, Vaccinium corymbosum L. (Ericaceae). American Journal of Botany. 72(3): 446-452. [20277] 16. Raunkiaer, C. 1934. The life forms of plants and statistical plant geography. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 632 p. [2843] 17. Reich, Lee. 1988. Backyard blues. Organic Gardening. 35(6): 28-34. [9179] 18. Rogers, Robert. 1974. Blueberries. In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M., compilers. Shrubs and vines for northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep. NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 12-15. [14073] 19. Saunders, Paul R.; Smathers, Garrett A.; Ramseur, George S. 1983. Secondary succession of a spruce-fir burn in the Plott Balsam Mountains, North Carolina. Castanea. 48(1): 41-47. [8658] 20. Soper, James H.; Heimburger, Margaret L. 1982. Shrubs of Ontario. Life Sciences Misc. Publ. Toronto, ON: Royal Ontario Museum. 495 p. [12907] 21. Stushnoff, Cecil; Hough, L. Fredric. 1968. Response of blueberry seed germination to temperature, light, potassium nitrate and coumarin. Proceedings of the American Society for Horticultural Science. 93: 260-266. [18679] 22. Taft, John B.; Solecki, Mary Kay. 1990. Vascular flora of the wetland and prairie communities of Gavin Bog and Prairie Nature Preserve, Lake County, Illinois. Rhodora. 92(871): 142-165. [14522] 23. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Soil Conservation Service. 1982. National list of scientific plant names. Vol. 1. List of plant names. SCS-TP-159. Washington, DC. 416 p. [11573] 24. Vander Kloet, S. P. 1980. The taxonomy of the highbush blueberry, Vaccinium corymbosum. Canadian Journal of Botany. 58: 1187-1201. [20278] 25. Vander Kloet, S. P. 1982. A note on the occurrence of root-shoots in Vaccinium corymbosum L. Rhodora. 84: 447-450. [20279] 26. Vander Kloet, S. P. 1988. The genus Vaccinium in North America. Publication 1828. Ottawa: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 201 p. [11436] 27. Vander Kloet, S. P.; Austin-Smith, P. J. 1986. Energetics, patterns and timing of seed dispersal in Vaccinium section Cyanococcus. American Midland Naturalist. 115: 386-396. [12523] 28. Whittaker, R. H. 1956. Vegetation of the Great Smoky Mountains. Ecological Monographs. 26(1): 1-79. [11108] 29. Crouch, P. A.; Vander Koet, S. P. 1980. Variation in seed characters of Vaccinium subsection Cyanococcus (the blueberries) in relation to latitude. Canadian Journal of Botany. 58: 84-90. [20274]