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Vaccinium

Huckleberry, Lingonberry
Ericaceae
Deciduous, Evergreen, Edible fruit, Ground covers, Shrubs

Excellent ornamental shrubs that include native and non-native cranberries, huckleberries, lingonberries, and blueberries. Each produces clusters of tiny, bell-shaped flowers in spring, plus colorful, edible berries that attract birds and hikers.

Most require organically enriched, acid soil, and thrive in woodland gardens. For specific info about edible Blueberries see that entry.

Vaccinium ovatum
Vaccinium ovatum

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Vaccinium ovatum

Native to the Pacific Northwest and California. Erect growth to 2–3 ft. high and wide in sun, 8–10 ft. tall and broad in shade. Leathery, lustrous dark evergreen leaves reach 1 1/4 in. long; they're bronzy or reddish when new. White or pinkish flowers are followed by black berries that are good in pies, jams, jellies, syrups.

Can be trimmed as a hedge or grown in containers. Cut branches are popular for arrangements.

Vaccinium parvifolium

Native to California's Sierra Nevada, Coast Ranges from Northern California to Alaska. Slow-growing plant, eventually reaching 4–12 ft. (rarely 18 ft.) tall, 6 ft. wide. Thin green branches with spreading or cascading habit provide an intricate winter silhouette. Oval, thin-textured, light green leaves are 1/2–3/4 in. long. Greenish or whitish flowers are good in arrangements. Showy bright red berries can be used in jams, jellies, pies.

Vaccinium vitis-idaea

Native to Europe. Slow growth to 1 ft. high; spreads widely by rhizomes if grown in highly organic or thickly mulched soil. Glossy, dark, evergreen leaves to 1 in. long; new growth often tinged bright red or orange. White or pinkish flowers are followed by sour red berries something like tiny cranberries; these are valued for preserves, syrups.

This is a handsome little plant for informal edging around larger plantings; good small-scale ground cover (space plants 2–3 ft. apart).

Best without potassium fertilizer. Prefers partial or full shade, but if given ample water will take full sun in cool-summer climates.

Vaccinium vitis-idaea minus

This cold-hardy form is from arctic North America. This evergreen ground cover has smaller leaves (to 1/2 in.) than the species, is attractive in rock gardens, containers. Grows about 1 ft. tall and spreads by underground rhizomes. The fruit is used in preserves and syrups.

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