Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for New Jersey Blueberry - Vaccinium caesariense   Mackenzie
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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DistributionLimited to the Coastal Plain and adjacent eastern Piedmont, where poorly known due to taxonomic issues. Scattered county records from the VA border to the SC border, but with no obvious pattern to the known counties. Further survey and study of the range is needed, and the current distribution is certainly incomplete.

This is a species of the Atlantic Coastal Plain, ranging from ME and NH south to southern GA. However, as this seems to be a recent split from V. corymbosum, the range is certainly poorly known, not only in NC but throughout the range.
AbundancePoorly known in the state, but likely uncommon in the Coastal Plain, and very rare in the eastern Piedmont. However, apparently not a truly rare species in the state. Needs more survey, as likely not easily separated from V. formosum (one of the Coastal Plain taxa split out of V. corymbosum) by most biologists.
HabitatThis species is found in swamps, boggy places, and other wet ground. It is not clear if the species grows in pocosins and bays, as opposed to swampy ground, beaver ponds, and other muddy wetlands.
PhenologyProbably blooms from late Feb into April, and perhaps into May; fruits from June to August.
IdentificationThis is likely one of the more difficult shrubs in the state to identify, as it looks like many other highbush blueberries, at least V. formosum, with which it is closely allied and which is much more common. Vaccinium caesariense is deciduous and grows 5-10 feet tall; it has rather small elliptical leaves that can be widest in the middle or somewhat toward the tip. According to the key in Weakley (2018), it can be separated from V. formosum -- the common highbush blueberry in Coastal Plain wetlands – by its rather “tiny” flowers that are only 4-6 mm long, as opposed to 4-10 mm long; and also by its quite small leaves that are 3-6 cm long and only 1.5-2 cm wide, as opposed to 4-10 cm long and 2.5-4.5 cm wide. Thus, if not seen in bloom, a wetland highbush blueberry in the Coastal Plain with leaves considerably less than 1-inch wide should be this species. Note that V. elliottii also has even smaller leaves, but they are dark green, shiny, and the species has a semi-evergreen look.
Taxonomic CommentsMany references still consider this a part of V. corymbosum. NatureServe gives it a Global Rank of G4?Q, with the “Q” indicating a taxon of questionable validity. Weakley (2018) and some other recent references do give it full species status. One of the Taxon Editors (Sorrie), who has lived in New England and NC, both places where this species supposedly occurs, has never knowingly seen it.

Other Common Name(s)New Jersey Highbush Blueberry
State Rank[S3?] *
Global RankG4?Q
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