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Vaccinium pallidum is a species of flowering plant in the heath family known by the common names hillside blueberry, Blue Ridge blueberry, late lowbush blueberry, and early lowbush blueberry. It is native to eastern North America, including Ontario and much of the eastern United States as far west as Kansas and Oklahoma.[1]

This deciduous shrub is erect in stature but variable in height. It generally grows 23 to 51 centimeters tall, but depending on environmental conditions it ranges from 8 centimeters to one full meter in height. It is colonial, sprouting from its rhizome to form colonies of clones. The shrub has greenish brown to red bark on its stems, and the smaller twigs may be green, reddish, yellowish, or gray. The alternately arranged leaves are also variable. They are generally roughly oval and measure 2 to 6 centimeters long. They are green to yellowish or bluish in color, turning red in the fall. The flowers are cylindrical, bell-shaped, or urn-shaped and are borne in racemes of up to 11. They are white to pinkish or greenish in color,[1] or “greenish white with pink striping”,[2] and about half a centimeter[1] to one centimeter long.[2] They are pollinated by bees such as bumblebees and Andrena carlini.[2] The fruit is a berry up to 1.2 centimeters long. It is waxy blue to shiny black in color, or rarely pure white. It contains several seeds, a few of which are generally not viable. The plant reproduces sexually via seed and vegetatively by sprouting from the rhizome.[1]

This blueberry grows in many types of habitat, including oak and chestnut woodlands, maple-dominated swamps, pine barrens, pine savanna, and a variety of forest types. It grows in the understory of trees such as red oak, black oak, white oak, post oak, chestnut oak, blackjack oak, Virginia pine, shortleaf pine, pitch pine, loblolly pine, longleaf pine, jack pine, eastern hemlock, red maple, and black cherry.[1]

The plant is common on disturbed sites such as roadsides and abandoned fields. It also grows at climax in old-growth oak stands in the South Carolina piedmont. It can grow on dry, rocky soils, sandy and gravelly soils, and heavy clay. The climate is generally humid.[1]

The wild fruits are food for many types of bird and other animals. Each individual fruit has approximately eight calories. For humans the taste is “sweet to bland” and the fruit can be eaten fresh, in pies, or as jelly. The fruit is harvested and sold commercially in some areas, such as northeastern Alabama and northwestern Georgia. The plant is also grown as an ornamental.[1]

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Written on June 13th, 2012 , Fruits Tags:

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