Botanical Name: Vaccinium angustifolium
Species: V. angustifolium
Synonyms : V. lamarckii. Camp. V. pennsylvanicun angustifolium. V. pensylvanicum. Lam. non Mill.
Common Names: Low Sweet Blueberry, Lowbush blueberry
Habitat: Vaccinium angustifolium is native to eastern and central Canada (from Manitoba to Newfoundland) and the northeastern United States, growing as far south as the Great Smoky Mountains and west to the Great Lakes region. It grows in dry open barrens, peats and rocks.
Vaccinium angustifolium is a low spreading deciduous shrub growing to 60 cm tall, though usually 35 cm tall or less. The leaves are glossy blue-green in summer, turning purple in the fall. The leaf shape is broad to elliptical. Buds are brownish red in stem axils. The flowers are white, bell-shaped, 5 mm long. The fruit is a small sweet dark blue to black berry. This plant grows best in wooded or open areas with well-drained acidic soils. In some areas it produces natural blueberry barrens, where it is practically the only species covering large areas.
The Vaccinium angustifolium plant is fire-tolerant and its numbers often increase in an area following a forest fire. Traditionally, blueberry growers burn their fields every few years to get rid of shrubs and fertilize the soil. In Acadian French, a blueberry field is known as a “brûlis” (from brûlé, burnt) because of that technique, which is still in use.
Requires a moist but freely-draining lime free soil, preferring one that is rich in peat or a light loamy soil with added leaf-mould. Prefers a very acid soil with a pH in the range of 4.5 to 6, plants soon become chlorotic when lime is present. Succeeds in full sun or light shade though it fruits better in a sunny position. Requires shelter from strong winds. A very hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to about -40°c. Dislikes root disturbance, plants are best grown in pots until being planted out in their permanent positions. Cultivated for its edible fruits, there are some named varieties. It succeeds in cold northerly locations such as Maine in N. America] and in C. Sweden. However, it is said to have little or no value as a fruit crop in Britain. The typical species is not as well known as its subspecies V. angustifolium laevifolium. House. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus.
Seed – sow late winter in a greenhouse in a lime-free potting mix and only just cover the seed. Stored seed might require a period of up to 3 months cold stratification. Another report says that it is best to sow the seed in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe. Once they are about 5cm tall, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 – 8cm with a heel, August in a frame. Slow and difficult. Layering in late summer or early autumn. Another report says that spring is the best time to layer. Takes 18 months. Division of suckers in spring or early autumn
Fruit – raw, cooked or used in preserves etc. A very sweet pleasant flavour with a slight taste of hone. Largely grown for the canning industry, it is considered to be the best of the lowbush type blueberries. The fruit can be dried and used like raisins. The fruit is about 12mm in diameter. This is the earliest commercially grown blueberry to ripen. A tea is made from the leaves and dried fruits.
Medicinal Uses :
The Chippewa Indians used the flowers to treat psychosis. The fruit contains anthocyanosides. These chemical compounds are very powerful antioxidants that are very effective in the prevention of heart disease and cancer. A tea made from the leaves has been used as a blood purifier and in the treatment of infant’s colic. It has also been used to induce labour and as a tonic after a miscarriage
Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.