Northern Ontario Plant Database
Vaccinium myrtilloides Michx.
En: velvetleaf blueberry, sourtop blueberry, Canada blueberry
Ericaceae (Blueberry Family)
General: A low, deciduous shrub, 2-6 dm tall. Young twigs are green and densely covered in downy, white hairs. Winter twigs are slender, reddish, and velvety; the small, scaly buds are alternate, reddish, and narrowly pointed. Older branches are reddish-brown, with short, matted hairs.
Leaves: Alternate, simple, pinnately-veined, and short petiolate. Leaf blade are lanceolate to elliptic, 2.5—5 cm long by 1—1.5 cm wide; velvety-hairy, especially on the lower surface; bright to dark green above, slightly paler beneath; leaf bases are tapering (cuneate) to rounded; the apex is pointed (acute); and margins are entire and hairy. Leaves on each branch are often arranged in a flat plane.
Flowers: Bisexual, in crowded, terminal and lateral clusters (short racemes), on short stalks (pedicels). The green calyx has 5 triangular lobes; the corolla is creamy-white, often pinkish when young, to 4-6 mm long, urn-shaped (urceolate), with 5 short reflexed lobes at the tip; 10 stamens, the anthers ending in a pair of elongate pores; and a single pistil with an inferior ovary. Flowers bloom in late spring (June), as the leaves are expanding.
Fruit: A globose, dark blue berry (blueberry), 6—10 mm in diameter, with a heavy, pale bloom that rubs off easily when touched. Berries are sour, but edible, with many small seeds. The persistent calyx lobes form a short, 5-pointed crown at the top of each berry. Fruits mature in late summer (August).
Habitat and Range: Moist to dry, sandy, or rocky soils, in open forests, barrens, and wetlands borders. Vaccinium myrtilloides is a boreal North America species with a transcontinental range, extending from Labrador to British-Columbia and the North West Territories; it occurs throughout most of Ontario, except for coastal Hudson Bay (Soper & Heimburger 1982).
Similar Species: Lowbush blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium Aiton) is similar in appearance to the velvetleaf blueberry, but lowbush blueberry has smooth stems and leaves. The dwarf bilberry (Vaccinium caespitosum Michx.) has smooth, obovate leaves and 1-3 pinkish flowers borne in leaf axils. Dwarf bilberry is found in coastal regions of the northern half of the Algoma District. Two or more of these blueberry species may be found growing together in the same habitat.Back to species list