vaccinium

Of the four hundred fifty or so species of fruiting shrubs that come under the genus Vaccinium and found throughout North America and mountainous regions of South America, about a dozen are native to parts of the Pacific Northwest, including Oregon.

Known by many common names including sparkleberry, whortleberry, huckleberry (though not “true” huckleberries), crowberry and several others, the majority of the fruiting varieties require similar care and growing conditions as their most well-known relatives, the common blueberry: acidic, well-drained soil, sun to partial shade, regular water.

Essentially pest and disease free, and not requiring much pruning other than occasional light pruning to shape, Vacciniums are a great addition to the garden. The berries are edible to both humans and birds, so they are an asset to both the wildlife and wild fruit gardens. The species we most commonly see, and that have great garden potential are:

vaccinium ovatum

Vaccinium ovatum: Evergreen Huckleberry

In the spring, the branches of Evergreen Huckleberry are covered with clusters of tiny, pinkish-white bell-shaped flowers, followed by tiny blue-black fruit. The fruit is so small that it takes a good-sized portion to make jam, jelly or syrup - but it is worth the effort for their sweet, fresh flavor.

Evergreen leaves are so nice that branches are used in florist arrangements. New growth is dark red and turns deep green as leaves mature.

Grows 4-5’ x 4-5’ in the city – 12’ x 4-5’ in forests. Sun to shade – in sunny areas the plant will be shorter, denser and more compact. In shady areas Vaccinium ovatum will be taller, more open and graceful. Z7-9

vaccinium parvifolium

Vaccinium parvifolium: Red Huckleberry

Vaccinium parvifolium is most commonly found west of the Cascades; in open to dense forests, frequently growing out of conifer stumps or fallen and decaying logs. Delicate, small, light green oval leaves grow from the many tiny twigs along the branches, followed in spring by fairly inconspicuous greenish-white bell shaped flowers along the stems.

The fruits are tiny, red to orange-red, sweet-tart in flavor. They stand out in strong contrast to the bright green branches and leaves. This shrub will grow anywhere from three to twelve feet in height, reaching its taller limits in shadier conditions. Z6-8.

Vaccinium membranaceum Huckleberry Flowers

Vaccinium membranaceum: Black Huckleberry

Black Huckleberry is a fairly common under story plant in northwest coniferous forests. The leaves are elliptical and somewhat larger than those of the Vaccinium ovatum, spaced much further apart along the stem. Flowers are creamy to yellow-pink bells that emerge from the leaf axis, followed by larger, purplish, tasty berries. In fall, the foliage turns red to reddish-purple.

Grows 3-6’, Sun-Pt shade, Z6-8.

Some of the other deciduous, native Vaccinium species are Vaccinium ovalifolium, Vaccinium alaskense, Vaccinium deliciosum, Vaccinium oxycoccus and Vaccinium uliginosum.

Find Natives for your garden

We offer a great selection of Northwest Natives from spring through fall. The plants featured are highlighted favorites, but they do not represent ALL of the plants we carry. For a more complete list, see our Northwest Native Plant List.

Natives

Abies: Native Fir

Natives

Acer Circinatum: Vine Maple

Natives

Actaea: Bugbane

Natives

Aquilegia: Columbine

Natives

Arbutus: Pacific Madrone

Natives

Asarum: Wild Ginger

Natives

Asclepias: Milkweed

Natives

Attracting Butterflies

Natives

Camassia: Camas

Natives

Ceanothus: Wild Lilac

Natives

Cornus sericea

Red Twig Dogwood
Natives

Corylus cornuta

Beaked Hazelnut
Natives

Dodecatheon: Shooting Star

Natives

Edible Fruits

Natives

Erigeron: Fleabane

Natives

Eriophyllum: Oregon Sunshine

Natives

Native Ferns

Natives

Fragaria: Wild Strawberry

Natives

Gaultheria shallon: Salal

Natives

Holodiscus: Oceanspray

Natives

Attracting Hummingbirds

Natives

Native Iris

Natives

Lewisia: Bitterroot

Natives

Mahonia: Oregon Grape

Natives

Malus fusca

Western Crabapple
Natives

Osmaronia: Indian Plum

Natives

Penstemon: Beard Tongue

Natives

Philadelphus: Mock Orange

Natives

Physocarpus

Western Ninebark
Natives

Pinus: Native Pine

Natives

Quercus: Garry Oak

Natives

Rhamnus: Cascara

Natives

Ribes: Wild Currant

Natives

Rosa: Wild Rose

Natives

Rubus: Salmonberry

Natives

Sambucus: Elderberry

Natives

Sedum: Stonecrop

Natives

Sidalcea: Checker Mallow

Natives

Sisyrinchium

Blue-eyed Grass
Natives

Solidago: Goldenrod

Natives

Symphoricarpos: Snowberry

Natives

Synthyris: Native Figwort

Natives

Trillium: Wake Robin

Natives

Vaccinium: Huckleberry

Natives

Vancouveria: Inside-out Flower

Natives

Viburnum trilobum

Cranberrybush
Natives

Viola: Violet

Natives

Winter Interest