Vaccinium // is a common and widespread genus of shrubs or dwarf shrubs in the heath family (Ericaceae). The fruits of many species are eaten by humans and some are of commercial importance, including the cranberry, blueberry, bilberry (whortleberry), lingonberry (cowberry), and huckleberry. Like many other ericaceous plants, they are generally restricted to acidic soils.
|Vaccinium berries, from top left clockwise: |
Red huckleberries, cranberries, lingonberries and blueberries
The plant structure varies between species: some trail along the ground, some are dwarf shrubs, and some are larger shrubs perhaps 1 to 2 m (3 to 7 ft) tall. The fruit develops from an inferior ovary, and is a berry; it is usually brightly coloured, often being red or bluish with purple juice.
The genus was first described scientifically by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. The name vaccinium was used in classical Latin for a plant, possibly the bilberry or a hyacinth, and may be derived from the Latin bacca, berry, although its ultimate derivation is obscure. It is not the same word as vaccinum "of or pertaining to cows".
The taxonomy of the genus is complex, and still under investigation. Genetic analysis indicates that the genus Vaccinium is not monophyletic. A number of the Asian species are more closely related to Agapetes than to other Vaccinium species. A second group includes most of Orthaea and Notopora, at least some of Gaylussacia (huckleberry), and a number of species from Vaccinium, such as Vaccinium crassifolium. Other parts of Vaccinium form other groups, sometimes together with species of other genera.Vaccinium's taxonomy can either be resolved by enlarging the genus to include the entirety of the tribe Vaccinieae, or by breaking the genus up into several different genera.
A classification predating molecular phylogeny divides Vaccinium into subgenera, and several sections:
- Subgenus Oxycoccus
- The cranberries, with slender, trailing, wiry non-woody shoots and strongly reflexed flower petals. Some botanists treat Oxycoccus as a distinct genus.
- Sect. Oxycoccus
- Sect. Oxycoccoides
- Vaccinium erythrocarpum – southern mountain cranberry
- Subgenus Vaccinium
- All the other species, with thicker, upright woody shoots and bell-shaped flowers
- Sect. Batodendron
- Sect. Brachyceratium
- Sect. Bracteata
- Vaccinium acrobracteatum
- Vaccinium barandanum
- Vaccinium bracteatum
- Vaccinium coriaceum
- Vaccinium cornigerum
- Vaccinium cruentum
- Vaccinium hooglandii
- Vaccinium horizontale
- Vaccinium laurifolium
- Vaccinium lucidum
- Vaccinium myrtoides
- Vaccinium phillyreoides
- Vaccinium reticulatovenosum
- Vaccinium sparsum
- Vaccinium varingifolium
- Sect. Ciliata
- Sect. Cinctosandra
- Sect. Conchophyllum
- Sect. Cyanococcus – typical North American blueberries
- Vaccinium angustifolium – lowbush blueberry - also known as Vaccinium stenophyllum
- Vaccinium boreale – northern blueberry
- Vaccinium caesariense – New Jersey blueberry
- Vaccinium caespitosum – dwarf blueberry (dwarf bilberry)
- Vaccinium corymbosum – highbush blueberry
- Vaccinium darrowii – evergreen blueberry
- Vaccinium elliottii – Elliott's blueberry
- Vaccinium formosum
- Vaccinium fuscatum – black highbush blueberry; syn. V. atrococcum
- Vaccinium hirsutum
- Vaccinium myrsinites – evergreen blueberry
- Vaccinium myrtilloides – Canadian blueberry
- Vaccinium pallidum Ait. – dryland blueberry (images); syn. V. vacillans Torr.
- Vaccinium simulatum
- Vaccinium tenellum
- Vaccinium virgatum – rabbiteye blueberry; syn. V. ashei
- Sect. Eococcus
- Sect. Epigynium
- Sect. Galeopetalum
- Sect. Hemimyrtillus
- Sect. Koreanum
- Vaccinium koreanum – Korean blueberry
- Sect. Myrtillus (including sect. Macropelma) – bilberries and relatives
- Vaccinium calycinum Sm. – ʻōhelo kau laʻau (Hawaiʻi)
- Vaccinium cereum (L.f.) Forst.f. – east Polynesian blueberry, Pacific blueberry
- Vaccinium cespitosum – dwarf bilberry
- Vaccinium deliciosum – Cascade bilberry, Cascade blueberry, blueleaf huckleberry
- Vaccinium dentatum Sm. – ʻōhelo (Hawaiʻi)
- Vaccinium membranaceum – square-twig blueberry, thinleaf huckleberry, tall huckleberry, big huckleberry, mountain huckleberry, "black huckleberry"
- Vaccinium myrtillus – common bilberry, blue whortleberry, blaeberry, fraughan, hurtleberry
- Vaccinium ovalifolium – Alaska blueberry, early blueberry, oval-leaf blueberry
- Vaccinium parvifolium – red huckleberry
- Vaccinium praestans – krasnika (Russian: красника), Kamchatka Bilberry
- Vaccinium reticulatum – ʻōhelo ʻai (Hawaiʻi)
- Vaccinium scoparium – grouse whortleberry, grouseberry, littleleaf huckleberry
- Sect. Neurodesia
- Sect. Oarianthe
- Sect. Oreades
- Sect. Pachyanthum
- Sect. Polycodium
- Sect. Pyxothamnus
- Sect. Vaccinium
- Sect. Vitis-idaea
Distribution and habitatEdit
The genus contains about 450 species, which are found mostly in the cooler areas of the Northern Hemisphere, although there are tropical species from areas as widely separated as Madagascar and Hawaii.
Plants of this group typically require acidic soils, and as wild plants they live in habitats such as heath, bog and acidic woodland (for example, blueberries under oaks or pines). Blueberry plants are commonly found in oak-heath forests in eastern North America.
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- Sunset Western Garden Book. 1995. pp. 606–607.
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- Fang, Ruizheng; Stevens, Peter F. "Vaccinium". Flora of China. 14 – via eFloras.org, Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
- "GBIF: Vaccinium microcarpum". Retrieved 2016-10-17.
- "Vaccinium microcarpum" at the Encyclopedia of Life
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- "Vaccinium pallidum Aiton". www.cas.Vanderbilt.edu. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
- "Vaccinium stamineum L." www.cas.Vanderbilt.edu. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
- "vaccinium species". Retrieved 20 August 2016.
- "The Natural Communities of Virginia Classification of Ecological Community Groups (Version 2.3), Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, 2010". Virginia.gov. Archived from the original on 5 January 2011. Retrieved 13 June 2017.
- Schafale, M. P. & Weakley, A. S. (1990). Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina: third approximation. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation.
- Łańcucka-Środoniowa M.: Macroscopic plant remains from the freshwater Miocene of the Nowy Sącz Basin (West Carpathians, Poland) [Szczątki makroskopowe roślin z miocenu słodkowodnego Kotliny Sądeckiej (Karpaty Zachodnie, Polska)]. Acta Palaeobotanica 1979 20 (1): 3-117.
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