Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Vaccinium myrsinites


Introductory

SPECIES: Vaccinium myrsinites
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Tirmenstein, D. 1990. Vaccinium myrsinites. 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 : VACMYS SYNONYMS : Cyanococcus myrsinites Vaccinium nitidum Vaccinium nitidum var. decumbens SCS PLANT CODE : VAMY3 COMMON NAMES : ground blueberry low blueberry dwarf blueberry Florida evergreen blueberry southern evergreen blueberry lowbush blueberry shiny blueberry TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of ground blueberry is Vaccinium myrsinites Lam. [24]. Ground blueberry has been described as a hybrid species [43] and is believed to have been derived from a small cluster blueberry (V. tennelum)-Darrow's evergreen blueberry (V. darrowii) cross [8]. A darrowoid phase, exhibiting characteristics more typical of Darrow's evergreen blueberry, is concentrated along the Florida Gulf Coast, whereas a tennelloid phase, more closely resembling small cluster blueberry, occurs in northeastern Florida and southern Georgia [8]. A number of forms of ground blueberry have been reported [7]. Ground blueberry hybridizes with many species including V. arkansanum, low sweet blueberry (V. angustifolium), V. australe, V. fuscatum, highbush blueberry (V. corymbosum), and downy blueberry (V. atrococcum) [8,41,45]. Numerous backcrosses and intermediates have been reported [8]. In northern Florida and southern Georgia, populations of V. myrsinites-V. virgatum hybrids are common [44]. LIFE FORM : Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE

SPECIES: Vaccinium myrsinites
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Ground blueberry grows along the southeastern Coastal Plain and Gulf Coast from South Carolina through southern Georgia and northern Florida to southwestern Alabama and perhaps southwestern Louisiana [18,42]. It extends southward to peninsular Florida [18]. Disjunct populations occur in the Metamorphic Hills of Alabama [42]. ECOSYSTEMS : FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine FRES14 Oak - pine FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress STATES : AL FL GA LA SC BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS : NO-ENTRY KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS : K112 Southern mixed forest K115 Sand pine scrub K116 Subtropical pine forest SAF COVER TYPES : 69 Sand pine 70 Longleaf pine 71 Longleaf pine - scrub oak 72 Southern scrub oak 74 Cabbage palmetto 80 Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine 82 Loblolly pine - hardwood 83 Longleaf pine - slash pine 84 Slash pine 85 Slash pine - hardwood 98 Pond pine 104 Sweetbay - swamp tupelo - redbay 111 South Florida slash pine SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Ground blueberry commonly grows in prairies, pine forests or barrens, and at the edges of shrub-tree bogs or bays [18,33]. It is a prominent component of scrubby, xeric pine flatwoods, sand pine (Pinus clausa) scrub, oak (Quercus spp.)-palmetto (Sabal spp.) scrub, scrub palmetto (S. etonia) communities, pine-oak scrub, and rosemary (Ceratiola ericoides) balds [3,15,42]. Ground blueberry also occurs in southern mixed forests [40], on disturbed dunes, [42] and in fallow fields [9]. Plant associates: Common associates in scrub palmetto or Florida scrub communities include scrub palmetto, pawpaw (Asimina reticulata), scrubclover (Petalostemon feayi), dodder (Cassytha filiformis), blazing star (Liatris tenuifolia), and scrub mint (Conradina grandiflora) [3]. Sand pine, tree sparkleberry (Vaccinium arboreum), saw palmetto, and oak often grow with ground blueberry in sand pine scrub [27]. Slash pine (Pinus elliottii), pond pine (P. serotina), longleaf pine (P. palustris), saw palmetto (Serenoa repens), lyonia (Lyonia spp.), dwarf huckleberry (Gaylussacia dumosa), oaks, and inkberry (Ilex glabra) grow with ground blueberry in pine flatwoods or pine scrub [1,15,20,39]. Common associates on fallow ground include bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum), dwarf huckleberry, and running oak (Q. pumila) [9].

MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS

SPECIES: Vaccinium myrsinites
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Browse: The importance of ground blueberry browse to wildlife and livestock is not well documented. Fall deer utilization was estimated at 10.0 percent during the first year after fire in a longleaf pine-turkey oak (Quercus laevis) community of Florida [20]. Fruit: Mammals such as the black bear, raccoon, white-footed mouse, red fox, gray fox, skunks, chipmunks, deer mice, and squirrels feed on the fruit of Vaccinium spp. [29,44]. Throughout the southeastern Coastal Plain, white-tailed deer consume the fruit of ground blueberry [23]. The ring-necked pheasant, scarlet tanager, gray catbird, thrushes, towhees, thrashers, and bluebirds eat berries of many species of Vaccinium [29,44]. Large numbers of ground blueberry fruit are eaten by the ruffed grouse, wild turkey, and quail [42]. In pine flatwood communities, it is a major spring and summer food of the northern bobwhite [23]. PALATABILITY : Ground blueberry fruit is highly palatable to a wide variety of birds and mammals. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Browse: Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) foliage is relatively high in carotene, manganese, and energy content [12,19]. Fruit: Vaccinium berries are sweet and contain high concentrations of both mono- and di-saccharides [38]. Berries are rich in vitamin C and energy content but low in fats [22,35]. COVER VALUE : Ground blueberry presumably provides cover for a variety of small birds and mammals. Dense saw palmetto (Serenoa repens)-ground blueberry thickets provide good cover for many species of birds [5]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Species within the genus Vaccinium can be propagated from hardwood stem cuttings or from seed. Seedlings grown in the greenhouse can be transplanted onto favorable sites 6 to 7 weeks after emergence. Seed collection and storage techniques have been considered in detail [11]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : The edible fruit of ground blueberry is described as "juicy" [32] and of "fair quality" [8]. Fruit is commonly eaten raw. Many blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) were important traditional foods of Native American peoples. Ground blueberry hybridizes with a number of highbush blueberries and may have potential for improving heat and drought tolerance of commercial fruit-producing strains [13]. Its ability to grow well on upland mineral soil makes it well Suited for use in commercial blueberry breeding [25]. Ground blueberry was first cultivated in England after 1880 [8]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Mechanical removal: In southern mixed forests, double chopping produces high mortality in the ground blueberry [40]. Chemical control: Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) exhibit variable susceptibility to herbicides such as 2,4-D, 2,4,5-T, glyphosate, karbutilate, and picloram [6]. Habitat destruction: Ground blueberry is a prominent understory constituent of scrub palmetto communities which have been disappearing as development occurs along the southeastern coast. Much of this unique habitat has been destroyed within the past century [3]. Timber harvest: Most blueberries are susceptible to postlogging treatments which include severe scarification [30]. This appears to be true of ground blueberry as well. Wildlife considerations: Blueberries are an extremely important food source for black bears. In many areas, bear-human conflicts are most likely to occur during years of blueberry crop failure [30,37]. Fruit production: In young pine plantations, fruit yields of ground blueberry tend to be greatest during the fourth year after conifer plantings [23]. Berry production in a young slash pine (Pinus elliottii) plantation was as follows [23]: years since standing crops (g/100m sq) of fruit planting site 1 site 2 1 6.7 12.0 2 0.5 4.0 3 6.6 4.0 4 11.4 4.0 5 1.4 4.0 6-10 0.1 4.0

BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS

SPECIES: Vaccinium myrsinites
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Ground blueberry is an erect, much-branched shrub which grows 6 to 40 inches (16-100 cm) in height [8,32,42,44]. Although primarily evergreen, subpersistent and even deciduous phases have been reported [7]. This rhizomatous shrub commonly forms extensive colonies [42]. Colonies approximately 0.6 mile (1 km) across and at least 1,000 years of age [14] have been reported. Twigs of ground blueberry are green, verrucose, more or less angular, and densely pubescent to glabrous [18,32,42]. Stem morphology has been considered in detail [32]. The small, alternate, coriaceous leaves are obovate to elliptic [42,45]. Leaf margins are entire to obscurely serrulate [8]. Leaves are commonly glossy green to grayish green and copiously pubescent to glabrous [8,18]. The lower surface is typically glandular [42]. The perfect flowers are white to deep pink or reddish tinged, and narrowly urceolate to cylindrical [8,32,42,44]. Flowers are borne in clusters of 2 to 8 [18]. Floral morphology is highly variable [7]. Fruit is a black or glaucous blue, globular berry 0.24 to 0.32 inch (6-8 mm) in diameter [18,33]. Berries contain numerous seeds or nutlets which average 0.04 inch (1 mm) in length [42]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Ground blueberry can reproduce through seed or by vegetative means. Seed: Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) seedlings first emerge within approximately 1 month after seeds are planted and continue to emerge for long periods of time in the absence of cold stratification [11]. Seeds of most Vacciniums are not dormant and require no pretreatment for germination [11]. Seeds of ground blueberry are readily dispersed by many birds and mammals. Vegetative regeneration: Ground blueberry sprouts from stout, elongate, underground rhizomes or "runners" after aboveground vegetation is removed by fire or by other disturbances [5,15,18,42]. Plants form extensive open clones through gradual rhizome expansion in the absence of disturbance [42]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Soil: Most blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) require acidic soils and can grow on relatively infertile sites which have small amounts of many essential elements [25]. Ground blueberry commonly grows on dry, sandy, acidic soils in full sun [8,42,44]. It occurs on poorly drained soils in swales but also grows on seasonally wet to well-drained sites [18]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Fire is an integral part of most Florida ecosystems [2] including pine flatwoods, sand-pine scrub, and saw palmetto communities in which ground blueberry is a prominent understory shrub. These communities depend on fire for their continued existence [1,36] and have been variously described as representative of a "pyric disclimax" [15] or "fire climax" [27]. Fire in these communities does not initiate multistage succession. Little recruitment of new, short-lived, invasive species occurs after fire [2]. Instead, fire rejuvenates species such as ground blueberry which were present in preburn communities. Ground blueberry grows abundantly on many types of disturbed sites such as in fallow fields [9], on disturbed dunes [42], and on clearcuts in Florida longleaf pine stands [39]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Ground blueberry flowers in early spring. Fruit ripens during late spring or summer [33]. Phenological development by geographic location is as follows [23,33,46]: location flowering fruiting FL February-April May-July GA -- April-June SC March-April May-June

FIRE ECOLOGY

SPECIES: Vaccinium myrsinites
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Fire is an integral part of many southeastern plant communities in which ground blueberry occurs as an understory dominant or codominant [2] [see Successional Status]. Evidence suggests that the flatwoods and swales of central Florida burned every few years during presettlement times. These frequent fires not only maintained the vigor of sprouters such as ground blueberry but also resulted in a compositionally stable plant community. During recent years, fire suppression and declining stand flammability attributed to urban encroachment, has contributed to the decline of these communities. In some areas, concomitant increases in various evergreen hardwood or southern mixed hardwood forests have been observed [1]. Natural fire intervals are estimated at approximately 10 to 20 years in coastal Georgia pine-oak scrub. These intervals, which correspond to coastal drought cycles, are too short to allow hardwood dominance [15]. Ground blueberry is well able to persist despite periodic fires. Evidence suggests that short fire intervals characteristic of most ground blueberry communities have produced natural selection for a "xerophytic genotype which is strongly adapted to fire" [42]. Abrahamson [2] reports that ground blueberry "exhibits a 'sit and wait' strategy, in that [plants] apparently survive with little aboveground biomass for long periods of time before fire causes release from shading and/or nutrient" depletion. Ground blueberry typically sprouts from underground rhizomes after the foliage is consumed by fire. Birds and mammals may transport some seed to burned sites. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY : Rhizomatous shrub, rhizome in soil Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)

FIRE EFFECTS

SPECIES: Vaccinium myrsinites
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Fire commonly kills aboveground portions of ground blueberry [15]. Underground rhizomes [33] are generally protected from the damaging effects of heat and apparently survive most fires. Seeds of most blueberries (Vaccinium spp.) are of short viability and are readily killed by heat [30]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Growth of ground blueberry is apparently stimulated by fire [36]. Canopy cover on recently burned sites often exceeds cover on unburned plots [21]. Plants typically sprout vigorously from underground rhizomes after aboveground vegetation is consumed [2]. Recovery of this shrub is generally rapid and dramatic [1,39]. Ground blueberry often forms a nearly continuous shrub canopy within 2 years after fire [5]. Canopy cover was essentially unchanged soon after fires in a northern Florida flatwood community [31]. This shrub, along with saw palmetto and Galaticia elliottii, dominated the shrub layer within 4 months after fire in Georgia pine-oak scrub [15]. Similarly, density and dominance of ground blueberry reached peak levels within 6 months after a January prescribed burn in central Florida, although plants did not attain maximum height or crown widths until the fifth postfire growing season. In central Florida, ground blueberry increased after consecutive fires at three year intervals, suggesting a 3- to 4-year density response [2]. Seedling establishment: Seed banking does not appear to represent an important regenerative strategy in most blueberries (Vaccinium spp.). However, birds and mammals can presumably transport some seed from offsite. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : NO-ENTRY FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Fruit production: Fruit production of ground blueberry was higher in older burned slash pine stands than in young open stands [23]. Berry production peaked during the third growing season after fire [23]. Fruit production was documented as follows [23]: standing crop (g/100 m sq) of fruit years since fire 2 3 4 or > site 1 4.7 39.0 -- site 2 4.0 8.0 -- Wildlife: Optimal intervals for burning flatwoods to enhance fruit production of ground blueberry for wildlife use is approximately 3 years [23]. Burning flatwoods at these intervals also produces good deer browse and contributes to understory maintenance [23]. Prescribed fire: Flower buds tend to be more numerous on new shoots, and periodic removal of old shoots can increase flower production in Vacciniums [30]. Prescribed fire has long been used to rejuvenate commercial low sweet blueberry (V. angustifolium) fields and to increase overall fruit production [30]. Postharvest burning: Cover, frequency, and biomass of ground blueberry was as follows after clearcutting, site preparation, and broadcast burning in a northern Florida slash pine flatwood community [10]: pretreatment 1 yr. posttmt 2 yrs. posttmt cover (%) 1.00 0.29 0.33 freq. (%) 38 12 8 foliage biomass (kg/ha) 38.1 9.7 24.7

REFERENCES

SPECIES: Vaccinium myrsinites
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Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 101 p. [8899] 7. Camp, W. H. 1942. On the structure of populations in the genus Vaccinium. Brittonia. 4(2): 189-204. [9512] 8. Camp, W. H. 1945. The North American blueberries with notes on other groups of Vacciniaceae. Brittonia. 5(3): 203-275. [9515] 9. Clewell, Andre F. 1989. Natural history of wiregrass (Aristida stricta Michx., Gramineae). Natural Areas Journal. 9(4): 223-233. [10092] 10. Conde, Louis F.; Swindel, Benee F.; Smith, Joel E. 1983. Plant species cover, frequency, and biomass: Early responses to clearcutting, chopping, and bedding in Pinus elliottii flatwoods. Forest Ecology and Management. 6: 307-317. [9661] 11. Crossley, John A. 1974. Vaccinium L. Blueberry. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., ed. Seeds of woody plants in the United States. Agric. Handb. 450. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 840-843. [7774] 12. Dahlgreen, Matthew Craig. 1984. 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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] 23. Johnson, A. Sydney; Landers, J. Larry. 1978. Fruit production in slash pine plantations in Georgia. Journal of Wildlife Management. 42(3): 606-613. [9855] 24. Kartesz, John T.; Kartesz, Rosemarie. 1980. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. Volume II: The biota of North America. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press; in confederation with Anne H. Lindsey and C. Richie Bell, North Carolina Botanical Garden. 500 p. [6954] 25. Korcak, Ronald F. 1988. Nutrition of blueberry and other calcifuges. Horticultural Reviews. 10: 183-227. [9612] 26. 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] 27. Laessle, Albert M. 1958. The origin and successional relationship of sandhill vegetation and sand-pine scrub. Ecological Monographs. 28(4): 361-387. [9780] 28. Lyon, L. Jack; Stickney, Peter F. 1976. Early vegetal succession following large northern Rocky Mountain wildfires. In: Proceedings, Tall Timbers fire ecology conference and Intermountain Fire Research Council fire and land management symposium; 1974 October 8-10; Missoula, MT. No. 14. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers Research Station: 355-373. [1496] 29. Martin, Alexander C.; Zim, Herbert S.; Nelson, Arnold L. 1951. American wildlife and plants. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 500 p. [4021] 30. 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] 31. Moore, William H.; Swindel, Benee F.; Terry, W. Stephen. 1982. Vegetative response to prescribed fire in a north Florida flatwoods forest. 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Atlanta, GA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southeastern Area, State and Private Forestry: 336-342. [4270] 37. Rogers, Lynn. 1976. Effects of mast and berry crop failures on survival, growth, and reproductive success of black bears. Transactions, North American Wildlife Conference. 41: 431-438. [8951] 38. Stiles, Edmund W. 1980. Patterns of fruit presentation and seed dispersal in bird-disseminated woody plants in the Eastern deciduous forest. American Naturalist. 116(5): 670-688. [6508] 39. Tanner, George W. 1987. Soils and vegetation of the longleaf/slash pine forest type, Apalachicola National Forest, Florida. In: Pearson, Henry A.; Smeins, Fred E.; Thill, Ronald E., compilers. Ecological, physical, and socioeconomic relationships within southern National Forests; 1987 May 26-27; Long Beach, MS. Gen. Tech. Rep. SO-68. New Orleans, LA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Forest Experiment Station: 186-200. [10173] 40. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Region. 1989. Final environmental impact statement. Vegetation management in the Coastal Plain/Piedmont. Vol. 1. Management Bulletin R8-MB-23. Atlanta, GA. 351 p. [10220] 41. Vander Kloet, S. P. 1983. The taxonomy of Vaccinium and cyanococcus: a summation. Canadian Journal of Botany. 61 1: 256-266. [9009] 42. Vander Kloet, S. P. 1988. The genus Vaccinium in North America. Publication 1828. Ottawa: Research Branch, Agriculture Canada. 201 p. [11436] 43. Vander Kloet, S. P.; Hall, I. V. 1981. The biological flora of Canada. 2. Vaccinium myrtilloides Michx., velvet-leaf blueberry. Canadian Field Naturalist. 95: 329-345. [9107] 44. Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 362 p. [4240] 45. Vines, Robert A. 1960. Trees, shrubs, and woody vines of the Southwest. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press. 1104 p. [7707] 46. Ward, Daniel B. 1974. Contributions to the flora of Florida - 6, Vaccinium (Ericaceae). Castanea. 39(3): 191-205. [10868] 47. Stickney, Peter F. 1989. Seral origin of species originating in northern Rocky Mountain forests. Unpublished draft on file at: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Intermountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, Missoula, MT; RWU 4403 files. 7 p. [20090] 48. Kuchler, A. W. 1946. The broadleaf deciduous forests of the Pacific Northwest. Association of American Geographers Annual. 36: 122-147. [12119] 49. U.S. Department of the Interior, National Biological Survey. [n.d.]. NP Flora [Data base]. Davis, CA: U.S. Department of the Interior, National Biological Survey. [23119]


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