HUCKLEBERRY]





(Gaylussacia resinosa) Huckleberry family



Flowers - White and pink, pale or deep, small, cylindric,

bell-shaped. 5-parted, borne in 1-sided racemes from the sides of

the stiff, grayish branches. Stem: A shrub to 3 ft. high. Leaves:

Alternate, oval to oblong, firm, entire edged, green on both

sides, dotted underneath with resinous spots, especially when

young. Fruit: A round, black, bloomless, sweet, berry-like drupe,

containing 10 seed-like nutlets, in each of which is a solitary

seed. Ripe, July-August.

Preferred Habitat - Moist, sandy soil, thickets, open woods.

Flowering Season - May-June.

Distribution - Newfoundland to Georgia, west to Manitoba and

Kentucky.



This common huckleberry, oftener found in pies and muffins by the

average observer than in its native thickets, unfortunately

ripens in fly-time, when the squeamish boarder in the summer

hotel does well to carefully scrutinize each mouthful. For the

abundant fruit set on huckleberry bushes, as on so many others,

we are indebted chiefly to the lesser bees, which, receiving the

pollen jarred out from the terminal chinks in the anther-sacs on

their undersides as they cling, transfer it to the protruding

stigmas of the next blossom visited. After fertilization, when

the now useless corolla falls, the ten-celled ovary is protected

by the encircling calyx, that grows rapidly, swells, fills with

juice, and takes on color until it and the ovary together become

a so-called berry, whose seeds are dropped far and wide by birds

and beasts. "The name huckleberry, which is applied

indiscriminately to several species of Vaccinium and

Gaylussacia," says Professor L. H. Bailey, "is evidently a

corruption of whortleberry. Whortleberry is in turn a corruption

of myrtleberry. In the Middle Ages, the true myrtleberry was

largely used in cookery and medicine, but the European bilberry

or Vaccinium so closely resembled it that the name was

transferred to the latter plant, a circumstance commemorated by

Linnaeus in the giving of the name Vaccinium Myrtillus to the

bilberry. From the European whortleberry the name was transferred

to the similar American plants."



A common little bushy shrub, not a true blueberry, found in moist

woods, especially beside streams, from New England to the Gulf

States, and westward to Ohio, is the BLUE TANGLE, TANGLEBERRY, or

DANGLEBERRY [now TALL HUCKLEBERRY (G. frondosa). It bears a few

tiny greenish-pink flowers dangling from pedicels in loose

racemes, and corresponding clusters of most delicious, sweet,

dark-blue berries, covered with hoary bloom in midsummer. The

abundant resinous leaves on its slender gray branches are pale

and hoary beneath. The caterpillars of several species of sulphur

butterflies (Colias) feed on huckleberry leaves.



To a genus quite distinct from the huckleberries belong the true

blueberries, however interchangeably these names are misused.

Perhaps the first species to send its fruit to market in June and

July is the DWARF, SUGAR, or LOW-BUSH BLUEBERRY (Vaccinium

Pennsylvanicum), sometimes six inches tall, never more than

twenty inches. It prefers sandy or rocky soil from southern New

Jersey far northward, and west to Illinois. Shortly after the

small, bell-shaped, white or pink flowers, that grow in racemes

on the ends or sides of the angular, green, warty branches of

nearly all blueberry bushes, have been fertilized by bees, this

species forms an especially sweet berry with a bloom on its blue

surface. The alternate oblong leaves, smooth and green on both

sides, are very finely and sharply saw-edged.



Another, and perhaps the commonest, as it is the finest, species,

whose immature fruit is still green or red when the dwarf's is

ripe, is the HIGH-BUSH, TALL, or SWAMP BLUEBERRY (V. corymbosum),

found in low wet ground from Virginia westward to the

Mississippi, and very far north. Only the bees and their kind

concern themselves with the little cylindric, five-parted,

nectar-bearing flowers. These appear with the oblong, entire

leaves, paler below than above. But thousands of fruit sellers

and housekeepers depend on the sweet blueberries (with a pleasant

acid flavor) as a market staple. In July and August, even in

early September, the berries arrive in the cities. One picker in

New Jersey claims to have filled an entire crate with the fruit

of a single bush.



The DEERBERRY, BUCKBERRY, or SQUAW HUCKLEBERRY (V. stainineum),

common in dry woods and thickets from Maine and Minnesota to the

Gulf States, puts forth quantities of small greenish-white,

yellow, or purplish-green, open bell-shaped, five-cleft flowers,

nodding from hair-like pedicels in graceful, leafy-bracted

racemes. Both the tips of the stamens and the style protrude like

a fringe. No creature, unless hard pressed by hunger, could

relish the greenish or yellowish berries. This is a low-growing,

spreading shrub, with firm oval or oblong tapering leaves, dull

above, and pale, sometimes even hoary, underneath.





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