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Vaccinium angustifolium, commonly known as the Lowbush Blueberry, is a species of blueberry native to eastern and central Canada and the northeastern United States, growing as far south as West Virginia and west to the Great Lakes region, Minnesota and Manitoba. [1]

Etymology

The species name angustifolium is a combination of the Latin words angusti meaning ‘narrow’, and folium meaning ‘leaf’. It shares this name with other species of plant including Epilobium angustifolium.

Description

Vaccinium angustifolium is a low spreading deciduous shrub growing to 60 cm tall, though usually 35 cm tall or less. The leaves are glossy blue-green in summer, turning purple in the fall. The leaf shape is broad to elyptic. Buds are brownish red in stem axels. The flowers are white, bell-shaped, 5 mm long. The fruit is a small sweet dark blue to black berry. This plant grows best in wooded or open areas with well-drained acidic soils. In some areas it produces natural blueberry barrens, where it is practically the only species covering large areas.

The Vaccinium angustifolium plant is fire-tolerant and its numbers often increase in an area following a forest fire. Traditionally, blueberry growers burn their fields every few years to get rid of shrubs and fertilize the soil. In Acadian French, a blueberry field is known as a “brûlis” (from brûlé, burnt) because of that technique, which is still in use.

Distribution and habitat

The native plant Lowbush Blueberry is also grown commercially in Canada, Maine, and Massachusetts, mainly harvested from managed wild patches. It is also a favorite of recreational berry pickers, black bears, rodents and birds. The Lowbush Blueberry is the state fruit of Maine.

Production

In 2006, production of wild blueberries in Quebec has reached 70 million pounds. From this, 55 million were produced from the specially equipped blueberry farm (Bleuetière), and 15 million were collected in the forest. The vast majority of blueberries, or 67.5 million pounds, has been marketed under various processed forms, and particularly in the form of frozen wild blueberries.

Pruning

Native Americans regularly burnt away trees and shrubs in parts of eastern Maine, in order to stimulate blueberry production. Modern farmers use various methods of burning or mowing to accomplish this. [2]

 

Written on June 13th, 2012 , Fruits Tags:

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    Reply
    26 June 2012 at 17:25

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