September 19, 2017

State Jewel

Vaccinium angustifolium - Lowbush blueberry

Vaccinium angustifolium – Lowbush blueberry | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

If you’ve never seen Vaccinium angustifolium in any stage, then you probably don’t live in Maine. And if you live in Maine and still haven’t seen it, then we’re pretty sure you live underground. Also known as lowbush blueberry, V. angustifolium is the state fruit for Maine, a wild-grown, commercially managed crop for which the state claims a fair amount of fame. As a plant, the lowbush blueberry has much to recommend it. Tolerant of challenging soils, it grows in some of the toughest landscape: cliffs, balds, ridges and ledges. That makes it an ideal shrub for those with similar assets. Lowbush blueberry generally doesn’t grow much taller than a foot or so high. With small leaves and bountiful white blossoms, it can put on quite a show in spring. The summer greenery and ripe berries give it another round of interest. And in the fall and lingering through winter, nothing is more spectacular than the red carpet the bush provides across the barrens.

Wild Wednesday is a collaboration of Garden Maine and Glen Mittelhauser of the nonprofit Maine Natural History Observatory, www.mainenaturalhistory.org.