Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Northern Highbush Blueberry - Vaccinium corymbosum   L.
Members of Ericaceae:
Members of Vaccinium with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Ericales » Family Ericaceae
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DistributionEssentially throughout the Mountains, and perhaps also on some western Piedmont monadnocks. The taxon formerly named as this species in RAB (1968) and most other references is now limited to more northerly and higher elevation populations; the lower elevation populations are now either V. formosum or V. caesariense.

This is a Northern species that ranges south to northwestern SC, northern GA, and eastern TN. It occurs north to NS and MI, but south of WV it is essentially limited to the Appalachians. Note that the BONAP map includes V. formosum and V. caesariense (i.e., a large number of Coastal Plain and Piedmont county records).
AbundanceApparently fairly common in the Mountains, but local in the western Piedmont, mainly at the higher elevations there.
HabitatThis is primarily a wetland species, found in bogs, swamps, and other poorly drained wetlands. However, it does occur on some heath balds and around the tops of granitic domes and other outcrops, especially near seepages.
PhenologyBlooms mainly in May, after the leaves are emerging and probably not fully expanded; fruits mostly in August.
IdentificationThis species is very similar to both V. caesariense and V. formosum of the Coastal Plain, being fairly tall (5-10 feet) deciduous shrubs primarily of wet places. However, as those two do not occur with this species, V. corymbosum must be separated mainly from V. fuscatum. V. corymbosum has white flowers with petals not narrowed to the tip, whereas V. fuscatum has slightly smaller flowers (often with a pinkish tinge) with petals narrowed to the tip. V. fuscatum also blooms before or as the leaves emerge, usually from late February to April, whereas V. corymbosum blooms mainly in May after the leaves are well formed. Leaves of V. corymbosum are medium to light green above, whereas V. fuscatum leaves average dark green above; the former has glaucous blue berries, whereas the latter has black berries. There are several small-stature blueberries on mountain outcrops, heath balds, and domes, usually growing to just knee or waist height. V. corymbosum typically is head height or taller.
Taxonomic CommentsWhat most people know as Vaccinium corymbosum, especially using the RAB (1968) manual, has now been split at least into three species (includes V. caesariense and V. formosum), leaving the strict-sense V. corymbosum limited in the state just to the Mountains and foothills.

Other Common Name(s)Highbush Blueberry (used for the old/combined V. corymbosum)
State RankS4
Global RankG5
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B.A. SorrieTable Rock, early July 2020. BurkePhoto_natural
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