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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 8 | Ericaceae | Vaccinium

7. Vaccinium scoparium Leiberg ex Coville, Contr. U.S. Natl. Herb. 5: 103. 1897.

Grouse whortleberry

Vaccinium myrtillus Linnaeus var. microphyllum Hooker, Fl. Bor.-Amer. 2: 33. 1834; V. erythrococcum Rydberg

Plants forming extensive colonies, 0.7-2 dm, rhizomatous; twigs green, angled, glabrous; ultimate branches compact, often forming broomlike clumps or tufts. Leaf blades pale green abaxially, elliptic, lanceolate, or ovate-lanceolate, 7-11 × 4-6 mm, margins finely serrulate, surfaces glabrous. Flowers: calyx pale green, lobes vestigial, glabrous; corolla pink, globose to urceolate, 3-4 × 3-4 mm, thin, glaucous; filaments glabrous. Berries red, ± translucent, or bluish purple, 4-6 mm diam. Seeds ca. 1 mm.

Flowering early-mid summer. Alpine and subalpine meadows, heaths, talus slopes; 700-3000 m; Alta., B.C.; Calif., Colo., Idaho, Mont., Nev., N.Mex., Oreg., S.Dak., Utah, Wash., Wyo.

The soft, tart, bright red berries of Vaccinium scoparium, to 6 mm diameter, have fair to good flavor and were gathered and eaten raw by the Kootenay, Okanogan, Shuswap, and other Indian tribes. Harvesting was probably done using wooden or fish-bone combs. Small fruit size, low yields, and difficult harvesting make commercial prospects for V. scoparium questionable.


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