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Vaccinium stamineum

Common Name(s):
Deerberry, Highbush huckleberry, Squaw huckleberry
Native Plants, Shrubs

Vaccinium stamineum, commonly called deerberry, highbush huckleberry or squaw huckleberry, is a loosely-branched deciduous shrub of variable size that typically grows to 3-6’ tall but may infrequently soar to as much as 15’ tall. It is native to dry rocky or sandy woods, ridges, upland slopes and glades in North America from Maine to southern Ontario to Kansas south to Florida and Texas.  The bark is gray-brown to reddish-brown and very shreddy.

It is a low maintenance, and once established a drought tolerant, low water use plant.  

Deer reportedly eat the ripe fruit off the shrub hence the common name of deerberry.

Regions:  Mountain, Piedmont, Coastal plains

Seasons of Interest:

     Bloom: Spring-Summer, April-June   Foliage: Fall     Fruit/Seed/Nut:  Fall

Wildlife Value: This plant in moderately resistant to damage from deer.  It is a host plant for the Brown Elfin butterfly.  Adult butterflies nectar from the blooms.  It's fruits are eaten by songbirds, small mammals, ruffed grouse, wild turkeys and black bears.   

Members of the genus Vaccinium support the following specialized bees:Andrena (Conandrena) bradleyiAndrena (Andrena) carolinaPanurginus atramontensisHabropoda laboriosaColletes productusColletes validus, and Osmia (Melanosmia) virga.

Insects, Diseases, or Other Plant Problems:  Chlorosis (yellowing of leaves) may occur in high pH soils. Potential but infrequent disease problems include stem blight, root rot, anthracnose, cane cankers, mildew and botrytis. Disease problems are sometimes of lesser concern when plants are being primarily grown as ornamentals. Watch for azalea stem borer, fall webworm, scale, and tent caterpillars.

3-6 ft.
The deerberry has alternate, elliptic to ovate to oblong leaves (to 3” long and 1 1/4” wide) are rich green to glaucous blue-green. The leaves which have a smooth margin and fuzzy underside turn a red to maroon-purple fall color.
The deerberry has broad, open bell-shaped, greenish-white flowers (sometimes pink tinged) in leafy-bracted panicles bloom April-early June. The fowers give way to pale yellow to green to purple pear-shaped berries (each to 1/2” diameter) in loose dangling clusters. It's sour fruit is largely inedible for humans unless sweetened. The fruits ripen from late summer to early fall.
This plant is best grown in acidic, organically rich, sandy, medium moisture, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. It may spread by underground runners to form clumps. Established plants have good drought tolerance.
Full sun to partial shade
6-12 ft.
naturalize, mammals, deciduous, low maintenance, fall color, hedge, wildlife, fall interest, low water use, songbirds, butterflies

NCCES plant id: 3210

Vaccinium stamineum Fruit
i Ted Bodner, Southern Weed Science Society,, CC BY - 4.0
Vaccinium stamineum Leaves
Daniel J. Layton, CC-BY-SA-3.0
Vaccinium stamineum Flowers
Fritzflohrreynolds, CC-BY-SA-3.0