Blueberry (Vaccinium pallidum)

Native Blueberry

This has been the perfect year for blueberries here in Georgia. We have had ample rainfall this spring and the shrubs are loaded with fruit. Last week we visited a fellow master gardener and we left with over three quarts of blueberries.

The Blueberry is a native flowering plant in the Heath family. It is a deciduous shrub that can grow to two feet tall (commercial cultivars are usually four to five feet tall). It sprouts from its rhizomes to form colonies of clones. The shrub has greenish brown bark at it’s stem. They are pollinated by bees and bumblebees. The fruit is a waxy blue with several small seeds. The plants reproduce sexually by seed or by spreading rhizomes. It likes to grow in the understory of trees with part sun conditions. Native Blueberry requires cross-pollination (two difference varieties of same species).

For more blueberries and healthier plants, the Cherokee learned to either prune the blueberries to the ground or use a controlled fire every four or five years. Controlled fires was common practice in Cherokee culture to manage their forests.

Each individual fruit contains about eight calories and the Cherokee would eat them raw or make jams out of them. Also the native Blueberry grows in every state in America and Canada.

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