Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Bog Huckleberry - Gaylussacia bigeloviana   (Fernald) Sorrie & Weakley
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Section 6 » Family Ericaceae
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Author(Fernald) Sorrie & Weakley
DistributionThis recently described species – a split from Gaylussacia dumosa – is limited in the state only to a scattering of counties in the lower Coastal Plain, from Dare County south to the SC border. However, as this species is a recently described one, it is likely to be unfamiliar to many or most biologists, and it certainly must be present in a few other lower Coastal Plain counties.

The species seems to be limited to counties close to the Atlantic, mainly in the eastern portions of ME and southward to one site in central SC. The distribution globally is still relatively unclear owing to its recent description and perhaps to a difficulty of identification.
AbundanceVery local and restricted to the central portions of large peat domes in NC; quite rare in the state. Though listed as just a Watch List species by the NC NHP, it perhaps should be listed as Significantly Rare.
HabitatThis is a shrub of damp peat soils. It is found in extensive pocosins, mainly in the low, central (and wetter) portions of them. At other sites outside of NC it occurs in several peat-dominated habitats such as seepage bogs and Atlantic White Cedar stands.
PhenologyBlooms from April to June, and fruits from June to October.
IdentificationThis is a deciduous shrub that is very similar to the abundant Dwarf Huckleberry (G. dumosa), but it grows mostly 1.5-3 feet tall, instead of less than 1.5 feet tall. It has small, shiny, and widely elliptic leaves, barely to 1” long, like the other species. The flowers, slightly larger than those of G. dumosa, are dangling and white to pink-tinged, more bell-shaped (open in the mouth) than are the narrower urn-shaped flowers of most ericaceous species. You will need to identify this shrub by its combination of peat/pocosin habitat, small and shiny rounded leaves, and mid-thigh to waist-high height; it may grow in extensive stands. It is likely that you will need to get your shoes/boots quite wet and muddy to reach this species in NC.
Taxonomic CommentsThis taxon is often considered as Gaylussacia dumosa var. bigeloviana; RAB (1968) did not list varieties for Gaylussacia dumosa and thus this entity is not included in that reference except as an old name. NatureServe does not even name this as a species or a variety! The full species was described by two NC botanists – Bruce Sorrie and Alan Weakley – in 2007. It is no surprise that Weakley (2018) considers this as a valid species, as does the Flora of North America website. Because NatureServe does not give this entity a global rank, our website has given it a G4G5Q rank, with the Q indicating questionable taxonomy; the global rank is also in brackets to indicate that the rank is not provided by NatureServe.

Other Common Name(s)Northern Dwarf Huckleberry
State RankS2
Global RankGNR [G4G5]
State StatusW7
US Status
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