April 23, 2017

Berry High

Vaccinium uliginosum - Alpine blueberry | Photo courtesy of Glen Mittelhauser/Maine Natural History Observatory

Vaccinium uliginosum – Alpine blueberry

A relative of Maine’s beloved lowbush blueberry is Vaccinium uliginosum, commonly called alpine blueberry. This native of high elevations has an interesting characteristic. According to Go Botany, alpine blueberry can grow in soils “that are unusually high in metals and minerals; it concentrates these elements in its leaves.” The site also says that “some geologists have even suggested that the plant can be used as a biological indicator of soils rich in uranium and other valuable elements.” In less metallic soils, Go Botany says, the berry is edible. The low-growing deciduous shrub can be found anywhere from low elevations in the Arctic to high in the Pyrenees, Alps, Sierra Nevada and Rocky Mountains. The white to pale pink flowers are urn-shaped, and the resulting fruit a dark blue berry.  Another common name for V. uliginosum is bog bilberry.

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

In 2012, Glen began working to catalog the plants of Baxter State Park, which you can read about here and find out how to sponsor a plant of your own. Courtesy of a poll taken in 2012, Garden Maine is sponsoring this lovely plant.