blueberry

blueberry, plant of the large genus Vaccinium, widely distributed shrubs (occasionally small trees) of the family Ericaceae (heath family), usually found on acid soil. They are often confused with the related huckleberry. Blueberries were a favorite food of the Native Americans, who ate them fresh or dried them for winter use. The berries have been an article of commerce since early days. The high-bush blueberry ( V. corymbosum ) and the low-bush blueberry ( V. augustifolium or pennsylvanicum ), native to North America from Minnesota eastward, are the species most often cultivated, and a number of varieties are now grown in the East and West. Various species are sometimes called bilberry or whortleberry. The "huckleberry" of florists, sold for greenery, is a West Coast evergreen species, V. ovatum, called box blueberry and kinnikinick. The related cranberry is considered by some botanists to be of the same genus as the blueberries. Blueberries are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Ericales, family Ericaceae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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