Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Black Highbush Blueberry + - Vaccinium fuscatum   Aiton
Members of Ericaceae:
Members of Vaccinium with account distribution info or public map:
Google Images
Section 6 » Order Ericales » Family Ericaceae
Show/Hide Synonym
DistributionOccurs throughout the state, and possibly occurring in all counties, though generally scarce in the higher Mountains and is possibly absent in some central and northern counties in that province.

This has one of the broadest ranges of any Eastern blueberry species, ranging north from ME and southern MI south to most of FL and eastern TX. It is scarce in most Great Lakes states.
AbundanceCommon and widespread over much of the Coastal Plain; fairly common in much of the Piedmont, seemingly less numerous in the northern counties, though not scarce. Infrequent to at least locally fairly common in the lower Mountains.
HabitatThis Vaccinium has the widest habitat selection of all such species in the state. It favors damp ground of drier swamps, acidic bottomlands, pocosins, and other wet places, including bogs. However, it often grows in upland forests, mainly in pine stands, though usually not in xeric or sandy pine stands but in more mesic and well-drained sites such as in Loblolly Pine (Pinus taeda) forests.
PhenologyBlooms from late February into May, typically as the leaves are starting to emerge; fruits from June to August.
IdentificationThis is a deciduous, medium-height shrub that grows to an average of 5-10 feet tall. It has standard, elliptical and medium-sized “blueberry” leaves, to about 2-3 inches long. However, the twigs and undersides of the leaves are densely hairy, as opposed to more glabrous or sparsely hairy for the similar V. formosum, which also grows in similar Coastal Plain wetlands. In addition, V. fuscatum has quite small and urn-shaped flowers, barely 5-8 mm long (about 1/4-inch long) that are often pink or green tinged. As the common name implies, the fruits are black as opposed to dark blue of several other highbush blueberries. To most biologists, this is the most familiar and often seen of the taller “highbush” blueberries in the state. In a current study of highbush blueberries (Chinquapin 29, Fall 2023) Devani Jolman of ODU in VA has documented many intermediates between formosum and fuscatum. These hybrids show intermediate values of leaf pubescence and flower size. So far, she believes that the parents are distinct species, and NCVP Taxon Editors will do the same.
Taxonomic CommentsMost people knew this species as V. atrococcum until fairly recently, but essentially all references have now renamed the species as V. fuscatum.

Other Common Name(s)Hairy Highbush Blueberry
State RankS5
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
USACE-agcpFACW link
USACE-empFAC link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
Photo Gallery
B.A. SorrieWet roadside Thunder Road, April 2010. MoorePhoto_natural
Select a source
Select an occurrence type