Flora of the Southeastern United States
2022 Edition

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Key to Vaccinium

1 Trailing vines, erect shoots (if present) borne on horizontal stems; leaves evergreen, glossy and dark green above, rarely exceeding 20 mm in length.
..2 Leaves narrowly elliptic, glabrous above, glaucous-white below; leaf margin entire and eglandular; berry red when ripe, 8-15 mm long; [cranberries; section Oxycoccus]
..2 Leaves elliptic, puberulent above, pale green below; leaf margin obscurely to fairly strongly serrate and glandular; berry black when ripe, 6-8 mm long; [creeping blueberries; section Herpothamnus]
1 Erect shrubs, the growth form various (single-stemmed, multi-stemmed and clump-like, or clonal with numerous erect shoots from a network of subterranean rhizomes); leaves deciduous to semi-evergreen (evergreen in V. myrsinites), dull to somewhat glossy and medium green above (dark green and glossy in V. myrsinites), generally exceeding 20 mm in length (5-30 mm long in V. myrsinites).
....3 Twigs of the season verrucose (the surface abundantly covered with small bumps, readily visible without magnification); [blueberries; section Cyanococcus]
....3 Twigs of the season not verrucose.
......4 Corolla lobes 4, strongly recurved, 7-10 mm long; calyx lobes 4 (also visible on the berry); leaves lanceolate to ovate, the apex acuminate, the margin regularly and finely serrate with glandular teeth; [high elevations in the Mountains]; [mountain cranberry; section Oxycoccoides]
......4 Corolla lobes 5, not or only slightly recurved, 1-8 mm long; calyx lobes 5 (also visible on the berry); leaves elliptic, obovate, oblanceolate, or nearly round, the apex generally obtuse to rounded, the margin entire to obscurely and irregularly serrate; [collectively widespread in our area, but not at high elevations].
........5 Mature leaves green (or glaucous), glandular beneath, mostly elliptic to round, generally 1.5-4.5 cm long; corolla broad-urceolate to narrow-campanulate, the stamens included; berry black, lustrous, 5-9 mm long; [farkleberry; section Batodendron]
........5 Mature leaves pale and glaucous, eglandular beneath, mostly elliptic, 3-10 cm long; corolla campanulate, the stamens long-exserted; berry green, yellow, pink, or purple, usually glaucous, 7-18 mm long; [deerberries; section Polycodium]

Key to Vaccinium, Key A: cranberries, section Oxycoccus

1 Leaves elliptic, broadest near middle, (5-) 7-10 (-18) mm long, (2-) 3-4 (-5) mm wide; leaves blunt-rounded and non-involute; pedicels with 2 green, leaf-like bracts 1-2 mm wide; berry 8-15 mm in diameter
1 Leaves ovate, broadest toward base, (3-) 5-6 (-9) mm long, (1-) 2-3 (-5) mm wide; leaves involute at least along the margins, thus making the leaf tip acute; pedicels with (0-) 2 (-5) reddish, scale-like bracts < 1 mm wide; berry 6-12 mm in diameter

Key to Vaccinium, Key B: creeping blueberries, section Herpothamnus

1 Leaves (2-) 3-18 (-25) mm long, generally elliptic (less commonly ovate or obovate); angle of leaf base typically >90 degrees; margins finely glandular mucronulate-crenulate, the teeth tightly appressed and therefore often obscure, the margin superficially entire; stems mostly prostrate (ascending in areas that have been long fire-suppressed); [widespread in NC and SC, rare in se. VA and e. GA]
1 Leaves (4-) 7-35 (-63) mm long, elliptic to obovate (less commonly elliptic-ovate); angle of leaf base typically <90 degrees; margins glandular mucronulate-serrulate to serrulate-crenulate, the teeth apparent, especially toward the apex; stems often ascending to upright; [Lexington County, SC]

Key to Vaccinium, Key C: blueberries, section Cyanococcus

1 Shrubs rhizomatous, forming clonal colonies, the upright stems < 1 m tall (and often < 0.5 m tall); ["lowbush blueberries"].
..2 Leaves evergreen, 5-15 mm long (rarely to 30 mm long on fire sprouts), subcoriaceous, glossy dark-green or dull blue-green; [se. SC southward to s. FL, west to e. LA].
....3 Plant glaucous and bluish-green throughout; leaf undersurface lacking scattered glandular hairs; [s. GA south to s. peninsular FL, west to e. LA]
....3 Plant dark green throughout; leaf undersurface with scattered glandular hairs, these sometimes very few by late in the season (best seen in the field by folding a leaf, holding the fold up to the light, and using a 10× lens); [ne. SC southward to n. FL, west to s. AL]
..2 Leaves deciduous to semi-evergreen, herbaceous, generally > 20 mm in length, dull to somewhat glossy and medium green; [collectively widespread in our area].
......4 Lower surfaces of the leaves with red stipitate glands (sometimes pubescent as well when young); berry usually black and lustrous; [Coastal Plain and lower Piedmont]
......4 Lower surfaces of the leaves eglandular, pubescent or glabrous; berry either blue and glaucous, or black and glandular-hirsute; [collectively widespread in our area].
........5 Leaves sharply serrulate (each tooth with a small glandular tip), 20-32 mm long, 6-16 mm wide, green and shiny below (rarely glaucous), glabrous or nearly so
........5 Leaves entire or obscurely serrulate (if obscurely serrulate then 30-50 mm long and 13-25 mm wide), either glaucous and glabrous (or nearly so) beneath, or green and densely pubescent beneath.
..........6 Leaves pale and glaucous, glabrous on both sides or pubescent on the underside only; berry blue and glaucous; [plants collectively widespread].
............ 7 Plants mostly 0.5-1.0 (-1.4) m tall, stems brown for much of their length; leaves entire; fruit 7-12 mm in diameter; [moderate to high elevations of the Mountains]
............ 7 Plants mostly 0.2-0.6 (-1.0) m tall, stems green to the base (or brown at the very base); leaves serrulate (rarely entire); fruit 4-7 (-8) mm in diameter; [widespread, at low to moderate elevations]
..........6 Leaves green, pilose on both sides; berry either blue and glaucous, or black and glandular-hirsute; [Mountains].
............ ..8 Berry black and glandular-hirsute; calyx and corolla hirsute and stipitate-glandular; leaves mostly > 3 cm long; [Mountains of sw. NC and adjacent TN and GA]
............ ..8 Berry blue and glaucous; calyx and corolla glabrous; leaves mostly < 3.5 cm long; [of the mountains of n. NC and north]
1 Shrubs crown-forming, single-stemmed or several-stemmed from the base, the upright stems generally > 1 m tall (often 2-3 m tall, and rarely to 7 m); ["highbush blueberries"].
............ ....9 Leaves with stipitate glands on the lower surface; [Coastal Plain of SC and s. NC south to FL, west to TX]
............ ....9 Leaves lacking stipitate glands on the lower surface (variously glabrous to pubescent with eglandular hairs); [collectively widespread].
............ ......10 Leaves 0.7-3.5 cm long, 0.3-1.5 cm wide, with serrulate margins; twigs slender, numerous
............ ......10 Leaves 3-10 cm long, 1.5-4.5 cm wide, with entire, ciliate, or serrulate margins; twigs stouter, fewer.
............ ........11 Young twigs glabrous; leaf surfaces glabrous; leaf margins eciliate or ciliate.
............ ..........12 Leaves 4-10 cm long, 2.5-4.5 cm wide, most of them widest below the middle, eciliate; leaf bud scales reddish, 2-4 mm long, including the elongated (1.5-3 mm long), slender awnlike tips; corollas 8-12 mm long, cylindrical; berry 7-12 mm in diameter, dark blue with a glaucous bloom; [primarily Coastal Plain, very rarely disjunct in Coastal Plain like habitats in the Mountains or Piedmont]
............ ..........12 Leaves 3-8 cm long, 1.5-3 cm wide, most of them widest at or above the middle, ciliate or not; leaf bud scales flesh-colored or pink to reddish, 1-3 mm long, including the short (to 1.5 mm long) awnlike tips; corollas 4-10 mm long, cylindrical, subglobose, subcampanulate, or urceolate; berry 5-10 mm in diameter, blue with a glaucous bloom; [collectively widespread in our area].
............ ............ 13 Leaves 3-6 cm long, 1.5-2 cm wide, eciliate; corolla 4-6 mm long; [primarily Coastal Plain, very rarely disjunct in Coastal Plain like habitats in the Piedmont]
............ ............ 13 Leaves 3-8 cm long, 2-3 cm wide, usually ciliate-margined, at least basally; corolla 5-10 mm long; [of the Mountains and montane sites in the upper Piedmont]
............ ........11 Young twigs puberulent, at least in lines; leaf surfaces more-or-less pubescent; leaf margins ciliate (rarely eciliate).
............ ............ ..14 Puberulence of the young twigs merely in 2 lines; [Mountains and montane sites in the upper Piedmont].
............ ............ ....15 Leaves elliptic to elliptic-obovate, broadest at or beyond the middle, the apex acute to short-acuminate; leaf margins entire to obscurely serrulate; corolla 5-10 mm long; berry blue, glaucous
............ ............ ....15 Leaves narrowly ovate, broadest below the middle, the apex acuminate; leaf margins distinctly serrulate; corolla 5-7 mm long; berry purple-black, not glaucous (sometimes drying so as to appear somewhat glaucous blue)
............ ............ ..14 Puberulence of the young twigs extending around their circumference (not merely in 2 lines); [collectively widespread in our area].
............ ............ ......16 Hairs of the twigs and leaf surfaces whitish; leaves medium to pale green, not darkening on drying; berry blue, glaucous; twigs and bud scales flesh-colored to reddish; corolla 5-10 mm long, usually not narrowed to the tip; blooming May; [Mountains and montane sites in the upper Piedmont]
............ ............ ......16 Hairs of the twigs and leaf surfaces dingy, brownish, or dark; leaves dark green, darkening on drying; berry black; twigs and bud scales brownish-green to black; corolla 5-8 mm long, often narrowed to the tip; blooming Feb-Apr; [widespread in our area, though most common in the Coastal Plain]

Key to Vaccinium, Key D: deerberries, section Polycodium

1 Pedicels and twigs densely stipitate-glandular
1 Pedicels and twigs glabrous to pubescent, but not stipitate-glandular.
..2 Leaves strongly white-glaucous beneath; stamens 4-6 mm long.
....3 Bracts of the inflorescence nearly as large as normal foliage leaves; [of the Coastal Plain from se. NC southward]
....3 Bracts of the inflorescence much smaller than normal foliage leaves; [of the Mountains and Piedmont]
..2 Leaves green beneath (often slightly paler but not at all glaucous); stamens 5-8 mm long.
......4 Bracts of the inflorescence nearly as large as normal foliage leaves; plants short, 0.2-0.5 (-1.0) m tall, distinctly clonal; [primarily of Coastal Plain pinelands]
......4 Bracts of the inflorescence much smaller than normal foliage leaves; plants short to taller, 0.3-5 m tall, either clonal or crown-forming; [primarily of rocky or submesic habitats of the Piedmont and Mountains].
........5 Hypanthium and fruit pubescent
........5 Hypanthium and fruit glabrous