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Small Cluster Blueberry Vaccinium tenellum

Previously known as:

  • Cyanococcus tenellus
Phonetic Spelling
vak-SIN-ee-um ten-ELL-um
This plant is an invasive species in North Carolina
Description

Southern Blueberry is a deciduous edible shrub in the heath family native to the southeastern U.S.A.  It can be found growing in forests and other shrubby locations. 

When choosing a location to plant, look for an area where the soil does not contain lime.  Lime will cause the leaves to become chlorotic, a condition where the leaves do not produce enough chlorophyll, leading to yellowing of the leaves.  Choose a sunny site, as fruiting is at its best in full sun.  Shelter from strong winds is another facture to consider.  

Growing from seed, it is best to sew in containers in a protected area, such as a greenhouse.  A somewhat shady spot is ideal.  Let the seedlings spend their first winter indoors, planting in their permanent location in late spring into summer.  Choose your spot wisely, as they do not like their roots do like to be disturbed once it has begun rooting.

Factors that distinguish this plant from other low bush blueberries, look for its red stipulate glands on the underside of its leaves and also the glossy black berries.  The underside of the leaves are green.  The stems are densely pubescent.  

This colony forming shrub can form open colonies when growing in an undisturbed site.

Its fruits are edible, however, it has a poor taste and texture.

Resistant to honey fungus.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  If not controlled, suckers can form extensive colonies.

 

 

VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Edibles, Bulbs, and Houseplants" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

More information on Vaccinium.

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Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#drought tolerant#deciduous shrub#NC native#pollinator plant#larval host plant#food source summer#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#piedmont mountains UPL#native#bird friendly#mammals#food source soft mast fruit#butterfly friendly#Coastal FACU#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#deciduous#drought tolerant#deciduous shrub#NC native#pollinator plant#larval host plant#food source summer#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#piedmont mountains UPL#native#bird friendly#mammals#food source soft mast fruit#butterfly friendly#Coastal FACU#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Vaccinium
    Species:
    tenellum
    Family:
    Ericaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeastern U.S.A.
    Distribution:
    AL, FA, GA, MS, NC, VA
    Wildlife Value:
    Larval host for butterflies.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Edible fruit
    Wildlife Larval Host
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Heat and drought tolerant.
    Edibility:
    Fruits are highly edible fresh or cooked, but do not have a pleasant flavor.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Edible
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Creeping
    Prostrate
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Black
    Blue
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Berry
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Very dark blue to black berries display from June to July
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Urn
    Flower Petals:
    fused petals
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    White to pink flowers bloom from March to May
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    < 1 inch
    Leaf Description:
    The leaves are hairy when young. Become more glaborus as they age.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Brown
    Light Brown
    Surface/Attachment:
    Exfoliating
    Bark Description:
    Brown and exfoliating
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The stems are densely pubescent.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Meadow
    Naturalized Area
    Patio
    Slope/Bank
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Edible Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Barrier
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Drought
    Problems:
    Invasive Species