Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Vaccinium uliginosum


SPECIES: Vaccinium uliginosum
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Matthews, Robin F. 1992. Vaccinium uliginosum. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: []. ABBREVIATION : VACULI SYNONYMS : Vaccinium occidentale A. Gray SCS PLANT CODE : VAUL COMMON NAMES : bog blueberry bog bilberry alpine blueberry alpine bilberry bog huckleberry bog whortleberry TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of bog blueberry is Vaccinium uliginosum Linnaeus [1,34,37,41,72]. It has been placed within the section Vaccinium of the taxonomically complex genus Vaccinium [81]. Recognized subspecies and varieties based on morphological characteristics or distribution are as follows: Vaccinium uliginosum subsp. alpinum (Bigel.) Hulten [37,87] Vaccinium uliginosum subsp. microphyllum Lange [37,41,81] Vaccinium uliginosum subsp. pubescens (Wormsk. ex Hornem.) Young [41,75,81] Vaccinium uliginosum subsp. occidentale (Gray) Hulten [41,81] Vaccinium uliginosum subsp. pedris (Harshberger) Young [41,81] Vaccinium uliginosum subsp. gaultherioides (Bigel.) Young [81] Vaccinium uliginosum var. alpinum Bigel. [23,37,72,75,87] Vaccinium uliginosum var. salicinum (Cham.) Hulten [37,81] Vaccinium uliginosum var. uliginosum Linnaeus [1,34,37,41,72] LIFE FORM : Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Vaccinium uliginosum
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Bog blueberry is distributed throughout Alaska, Canada, and Greenland. It occurs south through New England, the northern portions of the Great Lakes States, and western Washington and Oregon [1,34,72,75,87].  Bog blueberry is also found in Japan, other parts of Asia, and in Europe [34,38,87]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES10  White - red - jack pine    FRES11  Spruce - fir    FRES23  Fir - spruce    FRES24  Hemlock - Sitka spruce    FRES26  Lodgepole pine    FRES44  Alpine STATES :      AK  CA  ME  MI  MN  NH  NY  OR  VT  WA      WI  AB  BC  LB  MB  NB  NF  NT  NS  ON      PE  PQ  SK  YT BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :    1  Northern Pacific Border    2  Cascade Mountains KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K001  Spruce - cedar - hemlock forest    K002  Cedar - hemlock - Douglas-fir forest    K004  Fir - hemlock forest    K008  Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest    K015  Western spruce - fir forest    K093  Great Lakes spruce - fir forest    K094  Conifer bog    K095  Great Lakes pine forest    K096  Northeastern spruce - fir forest SAF COVER TYPES :      1  Jack pine      5  Balsam fir     12  Black spruce     13  Black spruce - tamarack     38  Tamarack    107  White spruce    201  White spruce    202  White spruce - paper birch    204  Black spruce    205  Mountain hemlock    206  Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir    218  Lodgepole pine    224  Western hemlock    225  Western hemlock - Sitka spruce    227  Western redcedar - western hemlock    228  Western redcedar    251  White spruce - aspen    253  Black spruce - white spruce    254  Black spruce - paper birch SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : Bog blueberry can occur as a dominant or codominant in a variety of habitats within its range.  It may occur as an understory component in open or closed forest habitats, primarily with black or white spruce (Picea mariana; P. glauca) [25,65,76,85,70].  Bog blueberry can also dominate or codominate in dwarf shrub types, bogs or muskegs, and on open tundra [27,43,86]. Other associated tree species include:  Alaska-cedar (Chamaecyparis nootkatensis), quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), balsam poplar (P. balsamifera), and paper birch (Betula papyrifera). Associated understory species include:  willows (Salix spp.), alders (Alnus spp.), bog birch (Betula glandulosa), dwarf arctic birch (B. nana), Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum and L. palustre), lignonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), bunchberry dogwood (Cornus canadensis), rustyleaf menziesia (Menziesia ferruginea), crowberry (Empetrum nigrum), red fruit bearberry (Arctostaphylos rubra), leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), bog laurel (Kalmia polifolia), cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus), bog rosemary (Andromeda polifolia), salal (Gaultheria shallon), fireweed (Epilobium angustifolium), Labrador lousewort (Pedicularis labradorica), entire leaf mountain avens (Dryas integrifolia), Mt. Washington mountain avens (D. octopetala), bluejoint reedgrass (Calamagrostis canadensis), altai fescue (Festuca altaica), cottonsedge (Eriophorum vaginatum and E. angustifolium), and various sedges (Carex spp.), feathermosses (Hylocomium, Pleurozium, and Stereocaulon spp.), clubmosses (Lycopodium spp.), sphagnum mosses (Sphagnum spp.), and lichens (Cladonia and Cladina spp.). Published classifications listing bog blueberry as a major component of plant associations (pas), community types (cts), or vegetation types (vts) are as follows:    AREA                  CLASSIFICATION            AUTHORITY   interior AK            postfire forest cts       Foote 1983 nw AK                         cts                Hanson 1953 AK                       gen. veg. pas           Viereck & Dyrness 1980 AK: Seward Peninsula          cts                Kelso 1989 YT                            vts                Stanek and others 1981 OR: Willamette NF        gen. veg. pas           Hemstrom and others 1987 Newfoundland              peatland pas           Pollett 1972 N.W.T.                        cts                Black & Bliss 1978


SPECIES: Vaccinium uliginosum
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Bog blueberry is consumed by many species of wildlife.  Many songbirds and game birds including ptarmigan and spruce grouse eat the berries, often before they are ripe [57,80].  Bog blueberry leaves are important in the diet of spruce grouse throughout the spring, summer, and fall [20].  Many small mammals including chipmunks, squirrels, mice, and rabbits also consume bog blueberry leaves or fruits.  Consumption of leaves by snowshoe hares is highest in the spring [91].  Ninety-two percent of the red-backed vole's fall diet consists of berries, many of which are bog blueberries [90]. Caribou and moose browse on bog blueberry.  In northwestern Manitoba, occurrence of leaves and twigs in caribou rumen samples was 75 percent in April and 81 percent in November [61].  Bog blueberry was also detected in samples in the winter months but may have been consumed as litter as the caribou browsed on lichens [73].  Moose lightly browse bog blueberry throughout the year [52]. When available, bog blueberries are one of the most important fruits consumed by black bear in interior Alaska.  The berries are utilized heavily from July to September [29].  Black bear browse on bog blueberry leaves in the spring [55].  Brown bear are also known to eat bog blueberries [60].     PALATABILITY : Palatability of Vaccinium species as browse is rated as fair to moderate [14]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : The nutritional value of bog blueberry is not well documented.  However, Vaccinium species in general have sweet berries that contain high concentrations of mono- and disaccharides [77].  They are rich in vitamin C, high in energy content, and low in fat [68]. COVER VALUE : Bog blueberry presumably provides cover for a variety of small wildlife species.  It often forms a dense understory layer that may serve as hiding or resting sites for birds or small mammals. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Bog blueberry has been successful at naturally colonizing local seismic lines in the subarctic [44].  It has also naturally colonized borrow pits in tundra regions of northwestern Canada and may be of use in managed reclamation projects [45]. Bog blueberry is tolerant of high concentrations of heavy metals in the soil.  Leaf tissues can accumulate uranium, copper, lead, zinc, nickel, and iron in large quantities with no apparent detrimental effects to the plant [15].  The ability to inhabit soils with high concentrations of these metals may favor the use of bog blueberry in certain revegetation programs. Bog blueberry could not be established from seed during the first growing season in simulated pipeline trenches near Fort Norman, Northwest Territories.  Bog blueberry has, however, successfully germinated after one or two growing seasons when planted in other areas [59]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Bog blueberries are edible and have good flavor [37].  The berries are often picked in large quantities [1,87] and used in jams, jellies, and pies [37,38].  They are the most popular fruit of Native Americans in the Fort Yukon region [35].  Fresh or dried leaves can be used for tea [71].  Blueberry (Vaccinium spp.) leaves, flowers, and rhizomes have been used for medicinal purposes [81]. Bog blueberry has no economic importance [8], but its cold hardiness (including late flowering) and resistance to the blueberry fungus Fusicoccum putrefaciens make it useful for hybridizing with more economically important species [33,81]. A high correlation exists between concentrations of uranium, copper, and lead in bog blueberry leaf tissues and levels of these metals in the surrounding soil.  The ability of bog blueberry to reflect heavy metal concentrations in till favors its use as a tool in mineral exploration. The advantages and disadvantages of using bog blueberry for biogeochemical prospecting have been considered [15]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Leaf production of bog blueberry increased in response to overgrazing by caribou in arctic Canada.  Average cover was 9 percent in overgrazed areas but only 2 percent in areas that were not overgrazed [31]. In one study, bog blueberry showed no significant response to fertilization or irrigation [40]. White spruce stands on Willow Island, Alaska were subjected to clearcut and shelterwood treatments.  Second year average percent cover and average percent frequency of bog blueberry in the stands were as follows [18]:               Control   Clearcut   Shelterwood, 46 ft.  Shelterwood, 30 ft.                                      (14 m) spacing       (9 m) spacing               _____________________________________________________________ Cover           0.3        0.1            +                   0.5 Frequency       6.0        7.0           3.0                 13.0 Vegetative propagation of bog blueberry has been more successful with root or rhizome cuttings than with stem cuttings.  Rooting percentages from both hardwood and softwood stem cuttings were poor, whereas 52 percent of rhizome cuttings produced shoots when planted immediately after collection [36]. Blueberries can also be grown from seed.  In general, the seeds should be planted in a mixture of sand and peat.  Seedlings grown in the greenhouse can be transplanted 6 to 7 weeks after emergence but should not be transferred to the field until after the first growing season. Blueberries are exacting in their site requirements and are difficult to establish on sites that do not meet their specific needs.  Naturally occurring stands can usually be managed successfully [13].


SPECIES: Vaccinium uliginosum
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Bog blueberry is a low, highly branched, deciduous shrub.  It is prostrate to erect in form and generally reaches 8 to 16 inches (20-40 cm) in height.  The leaves are oval and leathery, and twigs are slender. Older twigs have gray, shreddy bark.  The flowers are white to pink and are borne singly or in clusters at the ends of stems.  The fruit is a blue to black berry [1,75,87].  Bog blueberry can form dense mats or open extensive colonies [81]. Bog blueberry roots in the organic layer and is rhizomatous.  Rhizome depth ranges from superficial to 6 to 8 inches (15-20 cm) below the surface [56].  Mycorrhizal associations exist on bog blueberry roots that allow for increased plant nitrogen levels [28,48,78].  Bog blueberry has a relatively high ratio of root biomass to shoot biomass [32,69].  These adaptations are important for nutrient uptake in the cold, poorly aerated, nitrogen-poor soils characteristic of bog blueberry sites [10,32]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :    Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Bog blueberry is capable of vegetative and sexual reproduction.  It regenerates vegetatively by layering or sprouting from rhizomes. Seeds of most Vacciniums are not dormant and require no pretreatment for germination [13].  In one study, however, bog blueberry seeds exhibited shallow dormancy, and a 30-day cold stratification at 35 degrees Fahrenheit (2 deg C) increased germination success.  Very few stratified or unstratified seeds germinated at temperatures below 59 degrees Fahrenheit (15 deg C) [7].  Seed viability of most Vacciniums is of short duration [85]. Seeds are readily dispersed by the birds and animals that eat bog blueberry fruits [63].  Bog blueberry seedlings can colonize exposed mineral soil [59], but seedlings are rare in established adult populations [21]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Bog blueberry occupies sites ranging from sea level to alpine zones [71].  It occurs in organic or inorganic soils that are generally acidic (pH 3.5 to 6.2) [81].  Bog blueberry can tolerate a wide range of soil moisture conditions and is found on well-drained to poorly drained sites.  Bog blueberry is found in sites characteristic of cool-temperate to cool-mesothermal climates [47]. Bog blueberry occurs in a wide variety of habitats, such as coastal and interior bogs [2,6,49,51]; cottongrass tussock tundra [5,6]; low shrub tundra [2,5,9]; sedge meadows [6,39,46]; black or white spruce woodlands [2,5,81]; forested areas [71,87]; rocky or sandy shores of lakes and streams [8,11,42]; rock outcrops [12,72]; and barrens [23,72]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Bog blueberry remains an important component of forest and woodland understory through the early, mid-seral, and late stages of succession [9,19].  It is important in the early shrub stages of tundra succession, as well as in climax stages [83].  Bog blueberry can also be found in dense, mature-climax forest stands [16,25]. Bog blueberry can sprout from underground plant parts following fire and remains important throughout successional stages.  The following cover and frequency percentages were found in black spruce stands in interior Alaska [25]:   Stage              Years after fire    Frequency(%)    Cover(%) ___________________________________________________________________ Newly burned             0 - 1              38.0      less than 0.5 Moss-herb                1 - 5              62.0           3.0 Tall shrub-sapling       5 - 30             40.0           5.0 Dense tree              30 - 55             65.0           8.0 Mixed hardwood-spruce   55 - 90             59.0           5.0 Spruce                  90 - 200+           42.0           2.0 SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Bog blueberry flowers from June to early July.  Fruits ripen from late July through September [23,42,75].


SPECIES: Vaccinium uliginosum
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Bog blueberry sprouts from rhizomes or rootstocks following fire [53,64,82].  It roots in the organic layer and therefore only survives in patches where the organic layer is not consumed [9].  Fire destroys the seeds, so bog blueberry must invade burned areas from off-site sources [64].  Wildfires that occur in the wet sites that bog blueberry often occupies are generally low in severity. POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex    survivor species; on-site surviving rhizomes    off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2


SPECIES: Vaccinium uliginosum
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Fire generally top-kills bog blueberry.  Moderate- to high-severity fires may also kill underground vegetative structures. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : NO-ENTRY PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Bog blueberry sprouts from surviving rhizomes or rootstocks after low to moderate-severity fires.  Burned aerial stems may also sprout [64,88]. Bog blueberry grows rapidly for the first 50 to 60 years after fire [9], and reaches its highest postfire cover and frequency 50 to 120 years after burning [4].  Bog blueberry leaves are larger in burned areas, even after 5 years [89]. Dyrness [17] found that bog blueberry in black spruce stands increased in biomass production after light summer fires.  The increase in biomass production corresponded to an increase in nutrient uptake.  Nutrient levels (percent dry weight) in lightly burned versus unburned areas were as follows:                      N          P         K          Ca        Mg                    ________________________________________________ unburned            .613       .074      .192       .172      .056 lightly burned      1.85       .324      .966       .394      .130 In the 4 years following the Wickersham Dome Fire near Fairbanks, Alaska, bog blueberry in black spruce stands increased in percent cover and biomass production, but did not reach control levels.  Recovery in lightly burned stands was much greater than in heavily burned stands [86]. Biomass production in bog blueberry decreased following a summer fire in tussock tundra near Fairbanks, Alaska.  Production in burned areas was significantly lower (P<.05) than in adjacent unburned areas 13 years after the fire [24]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : For information on prescribed fire and postfire responses of many plant species, including bog blueberry, see these Research Project Summaries: FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Flower buds tend to be more numerous on new shoots, and periodic removal of old shoots may increase flower production in many species of Vaccinium [58].  Berry production, however, may be delayed for a few years.  Ground fires of moderate severity favor growth and development of bog blueberry, and prescribed burning is the recommended management tool to increase berry yield [62].  Burning should take place in late fall or early spring before growth resumes [74]. In Russia, low- to moderate-severity ground fires caused 2.2 to 3.1 fold increases in the number of bog blueberry shoots per unit area.  Annual growth increments also increased, and were nearly two times greater in plants on burned areas than in plants on unburned areas.  Fruit production resumed 3 years after fire, and berries in burned areas were larger and healthier (more resistant to damage) than berries in other areas.  Yield in burned areas was also greater than in adjacent unburned sites [62].


SPECIES: Vaccinium uliginosum
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