Vaccinium myrtilloides (Velvet-leaf Blueberry)
|Also known as:|
|Life cycle:||perennial woody|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; sandy or rocky soil; open woods, rock outcrops, pine barrens, peatlands|
|Plant height:||12 to 20 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: FACW MW: FACW NCNE: FACW|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Clusters of a few to several hanging, short-stalked, bell-like flowers at ends of 1-year-old twigs. Flowers are urn-shaped, around ¼ inch long, with 5 fused deep pink to white petals with triangular tips that curl back.
A cluster of brown, tubular stamens surround a single, pale green style in the center of the tube. The calyx is hairless, green but often tinged red, with 5 broadly triangular lobes that are appressed to slightly spreading.
Leaves and stems:
Leaves are simple and alternate, short-stalked to nearly stalkless, elliptical, ¾ to 2 inches long, 1/3 to ¾ inch wide. Blades are leathery, the edges smooth and toothless, the upper surface dark green with an opaque luster through dense, fine hairs, the lower surface similar except lighter green. Twigs are fine, green or brownish with a reddish tinge, densely covered in fine hairs and a fine, warty texture underneath. Older stems can be reddish brown or purplish, eventually peeling, but do not persist for many years before being replaced by younger canes. Plants often form colonies.
Perhaps the majority of wild foragers are not aware that their tasty haul of plump, sweet blueberries are coming off of two different species. While not as common, they are nearly identical in growth habit, range and habitat preference and are frequently found side by side. The more common Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) is easily distinguished by the mostly hairless leaves. A few might say Velvet-leaved berries are a bit more tart than Lowbush but we'd never turn them aside - delicious!
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Where to buy native seed and plants ↓
- Velvet-leaf Blueberry plant
- Velvet-leaf Blueberry habitat
- flowering Velvet-leaf Blueberry plant
- fruiting Velvet-leaf Blueberry plant
- new growth leaves and twigs
- pale Velvet-leaf Blueberry flowers
- white Velvet-leaf Blueberry flowers
Photos by K. Chayka taken in Cook County. Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk taken in Aitkin and Lake counties.
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?