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Plant Identification: SOLVED: Wild Blueberry or Huckleberry?

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jehartg
Baton Rouge, LA

June 2, 2008
8:33 PM

Post #5042094

Found at Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center in Baton Rouge, LA

I am hoping these are huckleberries because otherwise I have never seen one.

Some of the bushes are as high as 10 feet tall.
They are growing in a "upland" woods, not down in the swamp itself.

I read that huckleberries have larger seeds than blueberries.
These have seeds about the same size as WalMart blueberries (that seem to have come from Florida).
I have also read that there is some debate whether seed size distinguishes between blueberries and huckleberries.

Anyone know if these are huckleberries or blueberries?

(I will post a few different pictures in notes just following this one.)

John

Thumbnail by jehartg
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jehartg
Baton Rouge, LA

June 2, 2008
8:34 PM

Post #5042100

I read that huckleberries have larger seeds than blueberries.
These have seeds about the same size as WalMart blueberries (that seem to have come from Florida).
I have also read that there is some debate whether seed size distinguishes between blueberries and huckleberries.

Thumbnail by jehartg
Click the image for an enlarged view.

jehartg
Baton Rouge, LA

June 2, 2008
8:36 PM

Post #5042106

The flowers first attracted my attention to this plant.

John

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Click the image for an enlarged view.

Nedhudson1
Thorne Bay, AK
(Zone 6b)

June 2, 2008
8:58 PM

Post #5042192

I think what determines huckleberry from blueberry is the state of its domesticity.They are all Vacciniums.
Farmerdill
Augusta, GA
(Zone 8a)


June 2, 2008
9:20 PM

Post #5042257

In theory you determine a huckleberry from a blueberry by eating them. Huckleberries will be slightly gritty. It is subtle tho. Most of the highbush that I have encountered have been huckleberries, but I am a not familiar with what is native to Louisiana
Jsorens
Buffalo, NY
(Zone 6a)

June 3, 2008
3:41 PM

Post #5046154

There seem to be two huckleberries native to Louisiana:

Gaylussacia dumosa, http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=GADU

Gaylussacia mosieri, http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=GAMO3
PamelaQ
Navarre, FL
(Zone 8b)

June 3, 2008
4:31 PM

Post #5046489

Just read this:
Huckleberry: Blueberries and huckleberries although related, are not the same. One obvious difference is that the blueberry has many soft, tiny almost unnoticeable seeds, while the huckleberry has ten larger, hard seeds. Blueberries are also more blue, while huckleberries are blackish blue or redish black. This red/black variety is also called southern cranberry.

PamelaQ
Navarre, FL
(Zone 8b)

June 3, 2008
4:35 PM

Post #5046514

One more:
http://gears.tucson.ars.ag.gov/book/chap7/huckleberry.html
ltalent
New York, NY

June 3, 2008
4:38 PM

Post #5046541

I just planted a high-bush blueberry and the flowers were rounder and yellow tinged.
jehartg
Baton Rouge, LA

June 4, 2008
12:02 AM

Post #5048541

Wow! I didn't think it was going to be this hard.

Thanks for all the comments and links and hints.
I followed the links and also did some googling.

I didn't come up with a firm fit.
Our bushes are quite a bit taller than most huckleberries I found.
There quite a few comments about seeds so I took a closer look.
I tried to pick out the seeds from one of our berries and one WalMart blueberry.
(See attached picture.)
Our berries are much smaller than the commercial blueberry
Seeds are about the same size for both
The seeds of our berry are not very uniform in size
Approximately the same number of seeds for both

In close-up (see picture in next note)
The seeds look similar

John

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jehartg
Baton Rouge, LA

June 4, 2008
12:03 AM

Post #5048545

In close-up
The seeds look similar

This message was edited Jun 3, 2008 9:21 PM

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jehartg
Baton Rouge, LA

June 4, 2008
12:12 AM

Post #5048574

The huckleberry flowers I found by googling seemed to more balloon-like than ours.
I decided to add a few more pictures of our flowers.
The blossoms begin coming out before the leaves, but the leaves just can't wait to come out and before the blossoms are done, many young leaves are out too.

Maybe I will have to settle on that I can't prove for sure that they are huckleberries.
I may have to assume that most visitors won't be able to prove they are blueberries.
So I may continue with my Huckleberry Finn and Huckleberry Hound stories anyway.

John

This message was edited Jun 3, 2008 9:36 PM

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mygypsyrose
Browns Mills, NJ
(Zone 6b)

June 4, 2008
4:53 AM

Post #5050221

I'm going to post a bunch of pictures of "blueberry" flowers also. I was just looking at a bunch of photos. I thought I remember seeing that the southern highbush looked like yours. Let me see if I can find it.
mygypsyrose
Browns Mills, NJ
(Zone 6b)

June 4, 2008
12:58 PM

Post #5051059

I can't seem to find a good picture of it. I thought I did once. It was for the rabbitberry which was a southern highbush. I don't know if you checked out that one or not. I'm realizing that there are so many and am hoping like you, that someone can recognize the flower. Good luck! Andrea
jehartg
Baton Rouge, LA

June 4, 2008
10:20 PM

Post #5054056

Thanks, Andrea, for taking the time to look for the pictures.

Attached to this note are some pictures of the bark, in case that helps distinguish.
New twigs are green.
When older, the bark turns brown.

John

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jehartg
Baton Rouge, LA

June 4, 2008
10:22 PM

Post #5054070

Attached to this note are close-ups of the leaves.

Thumbnail by jehartg
Click the image for an enlarged view.

mygypsyrose
Browns Mills, NJ
(Zone 6b)

June 5, 2008
2:21 AM

Post #5055345

This one is my picture of what I believe is a high bush. I'm trying to get them IDed also. This is my thread with all my pictures :-) I have pictures of the leaves on there too. http://davesgarden.com/community/forums/t/858478/ Andrea

This message was edited Jun 4, 2008 10:22 PM

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mygypsyrose
Browns Mills, NJ
(Zone 6b)

June 5, 2008
2:29 AM

Post #5055404

oh, I also did read somewhere in the many places that I've been looking online, that a blueberry has the "greenish" center and a huckleberry will have a "blueish" or "blackish" center. I don't know how accurate that is, but that was what I read.
jehartg
Baton Rouge, LA

June 5, 2008
1:18 PM

Post #5056962

Thanks, Andrea, for the link to your thread.
It must be fun to watch the different kinds plant go thru their annual cycle.
Sounds like you are watching them closer each year.
The flowers of each sure do vary.

It does seem that the blossoms on your #2 are closest to our blossoms.
And "high bush" would seem to describe ours.

I think that I see a difference in the edges of the leaves in some of your pictures.
Ours have small serrations or teeth maybe even small stickers around the edges.
(I have attached a close-up of a leaf so it can be clearly seen what I am trying to describe.)
Maybe this another way to begin separating them into groups.

Your #4 four shows similar rough edges and maybe #2 does (based on a leaf in the blossom picture)
I do not see the rough edges in your #1, #3 and #6.
I cannot tell about #5.

By-the-way, I am a retired chemical engineer and know almost nothing about plants. I am just stumbling around and hoping to learn something.
Good luck with your thread. I will follow it to see what we learn.

John

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mygypsyrose
Browns Mills, NJ
(Zone 6b)

June 5, 2008
3:05 PM

Post #5057483

Oh, that's a good idea to document. You are further south than me. Thats why I wasn't sure if you checked out the rabbitberry. It doesn't grow here, but does grow where you are. I don't know much about plants either. That's why I'm posting here as well as you, hoping that someone that does, will answer or direct me to a place that I can go to, to find the answers. Here's the picture that I was looking for, I was tired the other night. It was RABBITEYE blueberry that I ment to say. When you go to this site, scroll down to the picture of the flowers with the bee in it toward the bottom of the page. That's what I thought your flowers looked like. Andrea. http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.ent.uga.edu/bees/images/abstract26.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.ent.uga.edu/bees/Research/archives.htm&h=205&w=190&sz=32&hl=en&start=41&sig2=CTUk1Tqew0CbVThics18cA&um=1&tbnid=wTvMMqq7Wib8lM:&tbnh=105&tbnw=97&ei=f_9HSJO4N5LUed-QpPQE&prev=/images%3Fq%3Drabbiteye%2Bblueberry%26start%3D21%26ndsp%3D21%26um%3D1%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN
mygypsyrose
Browns Mills, NJ
(Zone 6b)

June 6, 2008
3:35 AM

Post #5061030

me again... I was looking at more photos trying to ID mine and I ran across this. Thought you'd might like to read it, if you didn't see it already. http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.floridata.com/wallpaper/jpg/Vaccinium_elliottii_flr800.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.floridata.com/ref/V/vacc_ell.cfm&h=600&w=800&sz=74&hl=en&start=58&sig2=ap9Ny6Kwp98vuDxe108n0w&tbnid=lZBeX199qb88DM:&tbnh=107&tbnw=143&ei=WK9ISOjQGJDQeaG3kPAE&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dvaccinium%2Bangustifolium%2Bflower%26start%3D42%26gbv%3D2%26ndsp%3D21%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DN Andrea
jehartg
Baton Rouge, LA

June 7, 2008
1:28 AM

Post #5065636

Thanks, Andrea, for the links and comments.

The blossoms of Rabbiteye blueberry and high bush blueberry do look very similar to ours.
The typical height of a bush matches well too.
Our berries are smaller than those talked about for these blueberries, but maybe ours have less commercial genes bred in.

John
mygypsyrose
Browns Mills, NJ
(Zone 6b)

June 7, 2008
2:38 AM

Post #5066032

I was under the impression that those were the native species and thats what they started using when they started to create hybrids. Those species are a little different than what they call the "northern high bush". They grow more native to your area than mine. Like the Rabbiteye, it's not found here in NJ at all according to the USDA, but it is found in LA. I'm starting to give up with all of this. No one has replied at all and plantfiles doesn't have a good resource on this. Don't get me wrong, everyone here is amazing with ID's and lightning fast to boot. I just don't know where else to go to find out this stuff... but here :-)

******If anyone has another good source to turn to. I'm sure it would be greatly appreciated. I'm sure John could use a break from me blabbing anyways :-)
Farmerdill
Augusta, GA
(Zone 8a)


June 7, 2008
11:25 AM

Post #5066817

A nature center should have a naturaliss who know the native plants in the center. Has anyone thought of asking? We had the native high bush huckleberries in Virginia, but I don't know Lousianna. The state forestry service also usually has botanists on staff who could identify in a heartbeat.
mygypsyrose
Browns Mills, NJ
(Zone 6b)

June 7, 2008
12:45 PM

Post #5067069

I didn't know that, that's why I asked :-) I have 6 blueberry up here in NJ that I posted on another thread that I'm trying to ID as well. Thankyou for pointing us in the right direction. This forum has always been my one and only source I've needed. I'll have to check around for that now. I appreciate your help! Thankyou! Andrea
claypa
West Pottsgrove, PA
(Zone 6b)

October 24, 2008
6:43 AM

Post #5710750

jehartg, I saw your other recent ID post and wondered what else you may have had here for ID, and I found this thread. I remember looking at it at the time and my head spinning with all the different names - huckleberry, sparkleberry, farkleberry, deerberry, highbush, etc... I'm more familiar with northern New England's berries, but the leaves on your plant are way too small (and serrated) to be anything I'd call a highbush blueberry. So I was searching around and saw this, Vaccinium elliottii, Elliott's Blueberry:

http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=VAEL&photoID=vael_006_avp.tif

http://www.floridata.com/ref/V/vacc_ell.cfm

It's a good possibility, anyway... the small, finely-toothed leaves and narrow flowers seem the same, and Vaccinium elliottii gets very tall like your shrub

This message was edited Oct 24, 2008 2:45 AM
jehartg
Baton Rouge, LA

October 24, 2008
11:24 AM

Post #5710974

Oh WOW, as I look at it now...!

How did I not see this before?
But as I look at it now, this seems to be it.

Every picture on the USDA link looks like it taken of our bushes.
The leaves and flowers, as you mentioned.
The bark of old and new branches.
The overall size.
We fit into the fairly narrow range on the USDA map for this plant.
Even the USDA picture of the fall leaves could have been taken of ours.
(I will attach a picture that I took 10 days ago so that I have matched all of their pictures.)

The people above have helped me learn that this is a difficult ID (and I could be wrong...again) but I am going to declare this SOLVED.

Thanks for taking the time to pick up this dormant thread.
That will be part of the fun as I remember and tell this story.
And thanks to all who helped contribute to the search and fun.

Only sad part is that I still have not seen a huckleberry.

John

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Click the image for an enlarged view.

JuneyBug
Dover AFB, DE
(Zone 7a)

October 24, 2008
10:39 PM

Post #5712854

A friend that grows HB Blueberries tripled the size of her berry's by putting in a drip irrigation system.
mygypsyrose
Browns Mills, NJ
(Zone 6b)

October 25, 2008
2:01 AM

Post #5713477

Lol! I actually put a link up to Elliott's Blueberry on June 5th 11:35pm. I was trying to ID all of mine too. I couldn't believe there were so many blueberries out there when I started looking mine up! Andrea
jehartg
Baton Rouge, LA

October 25, 2008
11:55 AM

Post #5714246

Good to hear from you again, Andrea.
Hope you have had fun watching your 6 varieties go thru summer and fall.
Hope some had leaves turn nice colors for the fall.

When I said: "How did I not see this before?"
I did not mean that I had not seen info on Elliott's Blueberry (also called Mayberry), but rather I did not see that Elliot's was ours.

The ah ha moment for me was seeing the pictures on the USDA site that claypa passed along.
The fine toothed edges on the leaves
The close up of the twigs
When I saw the flower thumbnail pictures, I wondered, "Are those my pictures?".
They looked so much like ours.

With all the searches I did in June, it is likely I saw the USDA data sheet before.
I don't know why it did not strike me then.
Maybe I was saturated and numb with data at the time.

Even now, the Floridata site by itself does not make me certain that ours is Elliott's, but starting with USDA and then viewing the other references gives me confidence.

John
mygypsyrose
Browns Mills, NJ
(Zone 6b)

October 25, 2008
4:32 PM

Post #5715015

Oh, I hope I didn't offend you. I can completely relate to your feeling of "saturated and numb with data at the time".:-) That was what my little laugh was at, actually. If you see all my posts, they were probably late at night while I was staring bugeyed at the computer trying to cram in all the information that I could find ;-)

I found out that 2 of mine did not actually produce berries. Go figure. I have know idea what they are. I kind of gave up on my quest to ID them for now. I will just have to go about it one at a time down the road and enjoy picking them with my kids. Most of them are a nice pretty red for fall.

As spring rolls around again. I find new things in my yard and being "me", I just gotta know what they are. I'm sure that's what will happen again next year :-) Claypa has probably IDed at least a half a dozen or more native plants of mine, such as "Indian Pipes" (which was a weird one). I have come to trust his knowledge in this area. I'm glad you found an ID to your blueberry, John! Now you can say you are eating Elliott blueberries. Take care, Andrea
rntx22
Houston, TX
(Zone 9a)

October 27, 2008
12:54 AM

Post #5720077

Hello everyone! I know this thread is solved, but I just have a comment/question. I was just on vacation in Montana/Glacier Nat. Park, where Huckleberries are a super popular local treat. They have huckleberry stores and products everywhere. We were told that they only grow in the mountains of the Northwest (Such as in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho), and they are a yummy dish that the bears eat. We asked the lady who owns one of the huckleberry gift stores why we can't find them at the grocery store around the country. She said that there has been research for over 10 years devoted to trying to commercialize the huckleberry, but they haven't been successful yet. She mentioned they are now able to get the bush to survive in cultivation, but so far none have produced any berries. So for now, they have to venture up into the mountains (in bear country) to hand pick the wild growing berries. AND the berries can only be harvested in August-Septemer. So I am just a little confused on how there are huckleberry bushes possibly being sold commercially. Maybe a different type?
ecrane3
Dublin, CA
(Zone 9a)

October 27, 2008
1:15 AM

Post #5720143

From looking at Plant Files, it appears there are a number of different species that have the common name huckleberry, so my guess is either she was making up a story (or repeating a story she'd been told), or maybe there's a particular local species that she was thinking of. I tend to suspect it's a bit of a tall tale--after all if there are a million huckleberry gift shops up there, I can't imagine all those people heading off into mountainous bear country to hand-pick berries during those couple months of the year, doesn't sound like a very profitable (or safe!) business to me!
claypa
West Pottsgrove, PA
(Zone 6b)

October 27, 2008
1:33 AM

Post #5720213

Montana's huckleberries are Vaccinium myrtillus, a.k.a. bilberries, whortleberries, and blueberries.

http://www.montanaoriginalcreations.com/huckleberries_from_montana.htm

http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=VAMY2

There might not have been much reason to cultivate them if there are plenty in the wild. The blueberries in Maine don't get much help besides fires to keep other species from growing in the fields. Last I heard, there still aren't any cultivars or improved varieties of the lowbush blueberry, Vaccinium angustifolia. The highbush blueberries of New Jersey are another story, they've been bred for a long time.

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