Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Mountain Highbush Blueberry + - Vaccinium simulatum   Small
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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DistributionThroughout the Mountains, and sparingly into the western Piedmont, at higher elevations there.

This is a southern Appalachian endemic, ranging north only to southwestern VA and southern OH, and south only to extreme northern GA and northeastern AL.
AbundanceFairly common to common in the Mountains, but rare in the Piedmont.
HabitatUnlike most other “highbush blueberries”, this is essentially limited to upland habitats, favoring heath balds, upper slopes and ridges of hardwood forests, and spruce-fir forests. It is found mainly at higher elevations, mostly over 3500 feet.
PhenologyBlooms with the emergence of leaves, from late April to early June; fruits in July and August.
IdentificationThis is a medium-sized, deciduous shrub that grows to about 5-10 feet tall. Thankfully, its leaves are a bit different from most other blueberries, in that they are clearly lanceolate to narrowly ovate and have a long-tapered/acuminate tip. The leaves, which grow to about 2-2.5 inches long, are also sharply serrate. Also, its flowers are quite rosy-colored and small, unlike other blueberries with larger or whiter flowers. Though it can be reasonably numerous at shrub balds and high elevation forests, this species could be easily overlooked among the many other species of ericaceous plants.
Taxonomic CommentsAs with several other Vacciniums, the scientific name has been changed in recent years, from V. constablaei to V. simulatum. According to Weakley (2018), the name V. constablaei was incorrectly applied to this species, when in reality V. simulatum was included within V. corymbosum for many decades. Some references still retain this taxon (simulatum/constablaei) within V. corymbosum, a very confusing and incorrect situation.

Other Common Name(s)Upland Highbush Blueberry (probably a better common name than Mountain Highbush Blueberry)
State RankS4
Global RankG5
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US Status
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B.A. SorrieMacon County, Scaly Mountain, 1995. MaconPhoto_natural

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