For the comic book character see Mike Blueberry
|Vaccinium corymbosum L.|
|Ref: ITIS 23573|
The blueberry, Vaccinium sp. (The genus Vaccinium also includes Cranberries and many many wild berries used by wildlife) is a shrub producing edible round blue berries with flared "crowns" at the end. The berries are first white, then reddish-purple, and turn blue on ripening; the berries themselves are also called blueberries, and have a sweet taste. Blueberries are used in jellies, jams, pies, and many other snacks and delicacies.
Blueberries are both cultivated and picked wild. In North America the most common cultivated species is V. carymbosum, the northern highbush blueberry. Some hybrids of this with other Vaccinium species, are adapted to southern US and are known collectively as southern highbush blueberries.
Although wild blueberries are much more expensive than cultivated ones, they are smaller and have a more intense flavour and colour. The lowbush blueberry, V. augustifolium, is found from Newfundland westward and southward to Michigan and West Virginia. In some areas it produces natural blueberry barrens, where it is practically the only species for large acreages. Several First Nations communities in Ontario are involved in producing wild blueberries.
In the US, Maine is a very large producer of lowbush blueberries. The Maine crop requires about 50,000 beehives for pollination, almost all of which are trucked from other states. Michigan, New York and New Jersey are large producers of highbush blueberries.
Rabbiteye, V. ashei, is a southern type of blueberry produced from the Carolinas to the Gulf Coast states in the US.
Other important species in North America include V. pallidum, the hillside or dryland blueberry. It is native to eastern USA, but common in the Appalachians and the Piedmont of the Southeast. Sparkleberry, V. arboreum, is a common wild species on sandy soils in the southeastern US. Its berries are important to wildlife, and an important honey plant for beekeepers.