Plant of the Month Nov 2018: Highland Blueberry
Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium x. marianum, a hybrid of V. fuscatum and V. formosum), are versatile native shrubs or small trees which provide four seasons of interest in eastern Virginia. They can grow 10 feet or more in height, often with several trunks. Young branches are light green with a zigzag pattern which is more obvious in winter after leaf fall.
In spring, clusters of white urn-shaped flowers appear, usually before leaf out. The flowers are a veritable magnet for bees. After pollination, blueberries develop. Different stages of fruit maturation are often evident on a single branch.
The leaves turn a golden yellow or bright red in late fall. Blueberries are often confused with Huckleberries which have more seeds in the fruit and resinous dots on the underside of their leaves.
In nature, Highbush Blueberry grows in wet areas but will also thrive in drier locales. They provide food for birds and humans in addition to nectar for bees.
See Go Native—Grow Native at www.nnnps.org for more information on choosing native plants appropriate for landscaping in Virginia’s coastal plain.
Submitted by Gary Chafin, Northern Neck Chapter, Virginia Native Plant Society
Photo: The similar Northern Highbush Blueberry which grows in western Virginia. Photo © University of South Carolina Herbarium.