Foraging Wild Fruit: Blueberry

Photo of Blueberries

July and August are prime blueberry picking months here in Maine. Did you know there are nine species of Blueberries in New England? All are classified in the genus Vaccinium along with three species of Cranberries -- Large (V. macrocarpon), Small (V. oxycoccos), and Mountain (V. vitis-idaea) -- and a shrub with supposedly (I've never tried it) cranberry-flavored fruit called Deerberry (V. stamineum).

In 2013 (during my Wild Berry Butterfly Moon Challenge), I wrote about the four most widespread blueberry species in New England: Common Lowbush Blueberry (V. angustifolium), Highbush Blueberry (V. corymbosum), Hillside Blueberry (V. pallidum), and Black Highbush Blueberry (V. fuscatum).

Another four species are largely restricted to northern New England where they often grow at high elevations: Northern Blueberry (V. boreale), Dwarf Blueberry (V. cespitosum), Velvet-leaved Blueberry (V. myrtilloides), and Alpine Blueberry (V. uliginosum). One final species, known as New Jersey Highbush Blueberry (V. caesariense), occurs locally in coastal wetlands.

You can learn more and see dozen of photos of these Vaccinium species at Go Botany. Of course, it doesn't matter which species of Blueberry you gather; it simply matters that you get out and enjoy some of these blue fruits of summer.

I've already visited a loaded patch that family members introduced me to last year, and have enjoyed handfuls of sun-ripened goodness. Have you checked your patches yet?

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