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Vaccinium scoparium is a species of huckleberry known by the common names grouse whortleberry, grouseberry, and littleleaf huckleberry. It is native to western North America from British Columbia and Alberta to far northern California to Colorado and New Mexico. It grows in mountain habitat such as forests, meadows, and talus, occurring in subalpine and alpine climates at elevations of 700 to 3000 meters. It is a dominant understory plant in many forested regions of the Rocky Mountains, being common to abundant in some areas.[1] This is a squat, bushy rhizomatous shrub growing not more than half a meter in maximum height. It its matted and clumpy, and it spreads outward with the stems rooting at nodes where it comes in contact with moist substrate. The branches are broomlike when leaflike and new green twigs have sharp angles. The deciduous leaves are alternately arranged, the serrated oval leaf blades up to 1.5 centimeters in length. Solitary flowers occur in the leaf axils. Each is about 4 millimeters long, urn-shaped, and pink in color. The fruit is a soft, bright red berry up to 6 millimeters in width. It is edible and has a tart flavor.[2]

This shrub provides food for many large mammal species, such as elk, mule deer, and bears, and many smaller animals, such as squirrels, foxes, skunks, and a variety of birds.[1]

The berries were utilized for food by many Native American groups, but they are small and difficult to collect in large quantities.[1][2]

Written on June 13th, 2012 , Fruits Tags:

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