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Red Huckleberry (Vaccinium parvifolium) is a species of Vaccinium native to the western North America, where it is common in forests from southeastern Alaska and British Columbia south through western Washington and Oregon to central California. In the Oregon Coast Range, it is the most common Vaccinium.[1] It occurs mostly at low to middle elevations in soil enriched by decaying wood and on rotten logs, from sea level up to 1,820-metre (6,000 ft).

Growth

It is a deciduous shrub growing to 4-metre (13 ft) tall with bright green shoots with an angular cross-section. The leaves are ovate to oblong-elliptic, 9-millimetre (0.35 in) to 30-millimetre (1.2 in) long, and 4-millimetre (0.16 in) to 16-millimetre (0.63 in) wide, with an entire margin. The flowers are yellow-white to pinkish-white with pink, decumbent bell-shaped 4-millimetre (0.16 in) to 5-millimetre (0.20 in) long. The fruit is an edible red to blue-black berry 6-millimetre (0.24 in) to 10-millimetre (0.39 in) in diameter.

Uses

Indigenous peoples found the plant and its fruit very useful. The bright red, acidic berries were used extensively for food throughout the year. Fresh berries were eaten in large quantities, or used for fish bait because of the slight resemblance to salmon eggs. Berries were also dried for later use. Dried berries were stewed and made into sauces, or mixed with salmon spawn and oil and eaten at winter feasts.

The bark of the plant was used as a cold remedy thanks to the therapeutic acid called quinic acid. The leaves were made into tea or smoked. The branches were used as brooms, and the twigs were used to fasten western skunk cabbage leaves into berry baskets.

Huckleberries make a good jelly, or can be eaten as dried fruit or tea.[2]

Cultivation

Vaccinium parvifolium is cultivated in the specialty horticulture trade with limited availability as an ornamental plant: for natural landscape, native plant, and habitat gardens; and restoration projects.[3][4] Another cultivated species of similar size and habitats is the evergreen Vaccinium ovatum (Evergreen Huckleberry).

As a crop plant (along with the other huckleberries of the genus Vaccinium in western North America ) it is not currently grown on a large Commercial agriculture scale, despite efforts to make this possible.[5] It requires acidic soil (pH of 4.5 to 6) and does not tolerate root disturbance.[2]

Written on June 13th, 2012 , Fruits Tags:

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