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Vaccinium (play /vækˈsɪniəm/)[2] is a genus of shrubs or dwarf shrubs in the plant Family Ericaceae. The fruit of many species are eaten by humans and some are of commercial importance, including the cranberry, blueberry, bilberry or whortleberry, lingonberry or cowberry, and huckleberry. Like many other ericaceous plants, they are generally restricted to acidic soils.

Distribution

The genus contains about 450 species, which are found mostly in the cooler areas of the Northern Hemisphere, although there are tropical species from areas as widely separated as Madagascar and Hawaii.

Etymology

The name vaccinium was used in classical Latin for a type of berry (probably the bilberry V. myrtillus), but its ultimate derivation is obscure; it is not the same word as vaccinum “of or pertaining to cows”.[3]

Characteristics

Plants of this group typically require acidic soils, and as wild plants they live in habitats such as heath, bog and acidic woodland (for example, blueberries under oaks or pines). The plant structure varies between species – some trail along the ground, some are dwarf shrubs, and some are larger shrubs perhaps 1 to 2 m (3 to 7 ft) tall. The fruit develops from an inferior ovary, and is a berry; it is usually brightly coloured, often being red or bluish with purple juice.

Blueberry plants are commonly found in oak-heath forests in eastern North America.[4][5]

The metabolism and photosynthetic parameters of Vaccinium can also slightly alter in winter-warming experiments [6]

False berries

The fruit of plants in this group develops from an inferior ovary, and is therefore known, botanically, as a false berry. In botany, true berries and fruit develop from the superior ovaries of a flower.

This “false berry” condition can actually be seen upon examining the fruit; the tip of a blueberry [1] or cranberry [2] contains a little, spiked ring that is the original flower. With “true” fruit, the flower would be lost as the ovaries expanded from within, but in the case of epigynous[3] “berries” the fruit comes from under the ovary, and the flower is left on the tip.

Food uses

Vaccinium species are used as food plants by the larvae of a number of Lepidoptera (butterfly and moth) species – see list of Lepidoptera that feed on Vaccinium.

Taxonomy

The taxonomy is complex, and still under investigation. A number of the Asian species are more closely related to Agapetes than to other Vaccinium species.[7][8] A second group includes most of Orthaea and Notopora, at least some of Gaylussacia (huckleberry), and a number of species from Vaccinium, such as Vaccinium crassifolium.[7] Other parts of Vaccinium form other groups, sometimes together with species of other genera.[7]

Subgenera

A classification which predates molecular phylogeny divides Vaccinium into subgenera, and several sections:

Subgenus Oxycoccus
The cranberries, with slender, trailing, wiry non-woody shoots and strongly reflexed flower petals. Some botanists treat Oxycoccus as a distinct genus.
  • Sect. Oxycoccus
    • Vaccinium macrocarpon – American Cranberry
    • Vaccinium microcarpum – Small Cranberry
    • Vaccinium oxycoccos – Common Cranberry
  • Sect. Oxycoccoides
    • Vaccinium erythrocarpum – Southern Mountain Cranberry
Subgenus Vaccinium
All the other species, with thicker, upright woody shoots and bell-shaped flowers.
  • Sect. Batodendron
    • Vaccinium arboreum – Sparkleberry (images)
    • Vaccinium crassifolium – Creeping Blueberry
  • Sect. Brachyceratium
    • Vaccinium dependens
  • Sect. Bracteata
    • Vaccinium acrobracteatum
    • Vaccinium barandanum
    • Vaccinium bracteatum
    • Vaccinium coriaceum
    • Vaccinium cornigerum
    • Vaccinium cruentum
    • Vaccinium hooglandii
    • Vaccinium horizontale
    • Vaccinium laurifolium
    • Vaccinium lucidum
    • Vaccinium myrtoides
    • Vaccinium phillyreoides
    • Vaccinium reticulatovenosum
    • Vaccinium sparsum
    • Vaccinium varingifolium
  • Sect. Ciliata
    • Vaccinium ciliatum
    • Vaccinium oldhamii
  • Sect. Cinctosandra
    • Vaccinium exul
  • Sect. Conchophyllum
    • Vaccinium corymbodendron
    • Vaccinium delavayi
    • Vaccinium emarginatum
    • Vaccinium griffithianum
    • Vaccinium meridionale
    • Vaccinium moupinense – Himalayan Blueberry
    • Vaccinium neilgherrense
    • Vaccinium nummularia
    • Vaccinium retusum
  • Sect. Cyanococcus– typical blueberries
    • Vaccinium angustifolium – Lowbush Blueberry
    • Vaccinium boreale – Northern Blueberry
    • Vaccinium caesariense – New Jersey Blueberry
    • Vaccinium caespitosum – Dwarf Blueberry (Dwarf Bilberry)
    • Vaccinium corymbosum – Highbush Blueberry
    • Vaccinium darrowii – Evergreen Blueberry
    • Vaccinium elliottii – Elliott’s Blueberry
    • Vaccinium formosum
    • Vaccinium fuscatum – Black Highbush Blueberry; syn. V. atrococcum
    • Vaccinium hirsutum
    • Vaccinium koreanum
    • Vaccinium myrsinites – Evergreen Blueberry
    • Vaccinium myrtilloides – Canadian Blueberry
    • Vaccinium pallidum Ait. – Dryland Blueberry (images); syn. V. vacillans Torr.
    • Vaccinium simulatum
    • Vaccinium tenellum
    • Vaccinium virgatum – Rabbiteye Blueberry; syn. V. ashei
  • Sect. Eococcus
    • Vaccinium fragile
  • Sect. Epigynium
    • Vaccinium vacciniaceum
  • Sect. Galeopetalum
    • Vaccinium chunii
    • Vaccinium dunalianum
    • Vaccinium glaucoalbum
    • Vaccinium urceolatum
  • Sect. Hemimyrtillus
    • Vaccinium arctostaphylos
    • Vaccinium cylindraceum
    • Vaccinium hirtum
    • Vaccinium padifolium
    • Vaccinium smallii
  • Sect. Myrtillus (including sect. Macropelma) – bilberriesand relatives
    • Vaccinium calycinumSm.Ōhelo kau laʻau (Hawaiʻi)
    • Vaccinium cereum(L.f.) Forst.f. – East Polynesian Blueberry, Pacific Blueberry
    • Vaccinium cespitosum – Dwarf Bilberry
    • Vaccinium deliciosum – Cascade Bilberry, Cascade Blueberry, Blueleaf Huckleberry
    • Vaccinium dentatumSm.Ōhelo (Hawaiʻi)
    • Vaccinium membranaceum – Square-twig Blueberry, Thinleaf Huckleberry, Tall Huckleberry, Big Huckleberry, Mountain Huckleberry, “black huckleberry”
    • Vaccinium myrtillus – Common Bilberry, Blue Whortleberry, Blaeberry, Fraughan, Hurtleberry
    • Vaccinium ovalifolium – Alaska Blueberry, Early Blueberry, Oval-leaf Blueberry
    • Vaccinium parvifolium – Red Huckleberry
    • Vaccinium praestansKrasnika (Russian: Красника)
    • Vaccinium reticulatumŌhelo ʻai (Hawaiʻi)
    • Vaccinium scoparium – Grouse Whortleberry, Grouseberry, Littleleaf Huckleberry
  • Sect. Neurodesia
    • Vaccinium crenatum
  • Sect. Oarianthe
    • Vaccinium ambyandrum
    • Vaccinium cyclopense
  • Sect. Oreades
    • Vaccinium poasanum
  • Sect. Pachyanthum
    • Vaccinium fissiflorum
  • Sect. Polycodium
    • Vaccinium stamineumL. – Deerberry; syn. V. caesium (Eastern North America) (images)
  • Sect. Pyxothamnus
    • Vaccinium consanguineum
    • Vaccinium floribundum
    • Vaccinium ovatumPursh – California Huckleberry (or Evergreen Huckleberry) (Coastal Western North America)
  • Sect. Vaccinium
    • Vaccinium uliginosumL. – Northern (or Bog) Bilberry (or Blueberry); syn. V. occidentale (Northern North America and Eurasia)
  • Sect. Vitis-idaea
    • Vaccinium vitis-idaeaL. – Partridgeberry, Cowberry, Redberry, Red Whortleberry, or Lingonberry (northern North America and Eurasia)

Production

Production tonnes. Figures 2003-2004
FAOSTAT data (FAO)
United States 280,503 80 % 270,000 78 %
Canada 52,651 15 % 53,400 16 %
Belarus 8,000 2 % 10,000 3 %
Latvia 8,000 2 % 8,000 2 %
Azerbaijan 2,000 1 % 1,500 0 %
Ukraine 1,000 0 % 1,000 0 %
Tunisia 50 0 % 50 0 %
Turkey 50 0 % 50 0 %
Total 352 254 100 % 344 000 100 %
Written on June 13th, 2012 , Fruits Tags:

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