Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Bear Huckleberry + - Gaylussacia ursina   (M.A. Curtis) Torrey & A. Gray ex A. Gray
Members of Gaylussacia with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Ericales » Family Ericaceae
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Author(M.A. Curtis) Torrey & A. Gray ex A. Gray
DistributionThis species is found in all counties in the southern half of the mountains, north to Buncombe County. It is absent elsewhere in the state.

This shrub has a very small and “tight” range, limited only to southwestern NC, southeastern TN, northwestern SC, and northeastern GA.
AbundanceDespite its small global and state range, it is often common to locally abundant, more so in the southwestern counties and less so north to Buncombe County. It can often be the dominant shrub in some upland forest types.
HabitatIt favors dry to mesic upland hardwood (mostly) forests, typically in acidic soils. Such forests are usually rather depauperate in overall plant species diversity. It occurs mostly at middle to somewhat high elevations (often over 3000 feet elevation).
PhenologyBlooms in May and June; fruits from July to September.
IdentificationThis is a somewhat low deciduous shrub, growing to about 3 feet tall, rarely to 4 feet tall. It can occur in large numbers over several acres, in colonies. Its leaves are quite a bit larger than others in the genus, being a typical elliptical shape, entire, and usually 2-3” long. The leaves are a bit shiny above and often somewhat wrinkled. As with other Gaylussacia species, but unlike all Vaccinium species, it does have some sticky resin dots on the undersides of the leaves. It has fairly long pedicels on the flowers, in an elongate cluster; the flowers are bell-shaped but small, barely 3/16” across and often reddish or greenish tinted. This can be a difficult species to identify, as it has few notable or distinct characters. If no flowers or fruit are seen, you may need to identify it by its colonial nature and by process of elimination!
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)The species has several other widely used names – Mountain Huckleberry and Buckberry are at times used.
State RankS3? [S3S4]
Global RankG4
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