tree huckleberry
Vaccinium arboreum Marshall
  • ALTERNATE COMMON NAME: farkleberry, tree sparkleberry
  • LEAVES: tardily deciduous, alternate, simple; blades orbicular to elliptic-oval, 1-3” long by 1” wide, coriaceous above, veins conspicuous; margins entire or with minute glandular teeth; apex acute to rounded, usually bearing a small mucro; leaves can be highly variable on shoots emerging following fire – these leaves are narrower than normal
  • FLOWER: perfect (bisexual), white and bell shaped and about 0.35” broad, occurring on short axillary racemes or solitary in leaf axils; pedicels long and pendant with two quickly deciduous medial bracts; flowering March to May
  • FRUIT: lustrous black berry ca. 1/4” broad, edible but not flavorful and with an unpleasant mealy texture
  • TWIGS: those of the season shaggy pubescent, year-old twigs glabrous with thin gray film which breaks up to reveal reddish-brown bark
  • BARK: bark on older plants thin, reddish brown, with narrow shreddy ridges
  • FORM: shrub to small tree, often with multiple trunks; plants tend to have many crooked branches
  • HABITAT: mesic sandy loam to silt loam soils of hardwood and mixed pine-hardwood forests; also xeric sandhills (can thickets on such sites lacking fine fuels to carry surface fire) and sandstone glades; characteristic of pimple mounds in hardwood flatwoods
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Facultative Upland (FACU): Usually occurs in non-wetlands, but may occur in wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: broadly southeastern U.S. [USGS Range Map]
  • USES: ornamental
  • WILDLIFE: important nectar source for pollinators, low to moderate deer browse, utilized mainly in fall and winter; fruit eaten by deer, rabbits and other mammals and numerous species of birds; shrubby thickets provide cover
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. shrub to small tree with crooked branches
    2. bark of older plants reddish-brown and shreddy
    3. typical leaves roundish, glossy above, veins conspicuous; apex with a mucro (minute spine-like tip)