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Vaccinium cylindraceum

Vaccinium cylindraceum

Thanks again to Eric La Fountaine for stepping up with a photograph and write-up!

Species of Vaccinium have become increasingly popular foods in recent years, due to their high antioxidant levels. Blueberries, cranberries, lingonberries and others in the genus are enjoyed for their delicious fruit. Most members of the genus are native to cool areas of the Northern Hemisphere, but a few like Vaccinium cylindraceum are found in warmer climates. This species is native to the Azores (a group of islands off the west coast of Africa that is part of Portugal). Its common name is Azores blueberry. The fruit is similar to blueberries found in North America, but the fruit and flowers are longer and shaped more cylindrical than spherical. The flavour is superb.

This photo was taken on a sunny day in December. It seemed late for such a colourful autumn display. Most other deciduous plants at the garden had dropped their leaves, but this specimen was glowing. It was previously featured on BPotD in bloom.

11 Comments

Interesting that a species native to the Azores should be deciduous at all - most Azores natives are evergreen, not surprising given the equable climate with very little difference between summer and winter.

This is quite a beautiful specimen! It looks as though it's glowing from flames. Lovely!

Drought deciduous perhaps?

Oh my gosh! This is a beautiful plant. I love anything with autumn colors. Thanks for making my day here in SE Idaho with deep snowbanks all around me.

Drought deciduous? Joe, you clearly haven't visited Vancouver in the autumn or winter. It has barely stopped raining since Halloween. I'd call it an opportunistic evergreen. Much like some highbush blueberry (V. corymbosum) cultivars, it keeps its leaves for an exceptionally long time, tolerating considerable cold (and locally, saturated conditions) before they finally abscise. In both cases, the plants seem no worse for it.

There are also blueberries native to the Pacific Islands--Hawaii and French Polynesia, I think--having originated through long-distance dispersal events (by birds), presumably from more temperate areas. I wonder if those species, like V. cylindraceum, have retained any of their progenitor's cold-hardiness.

Haha, I guess I didn't think about that. Living in Los Angeles for awhile tends to distort one's perception of "normal" weather. Though I was more referring to the plant when in its natural habitat in the Azores, because I have heard that the Costal Sage Scrub habitat in the Mediterranean is relatively similar to that of Southern California, where drought is an important evolutionary factor. Nonetheless, even here, most leaves are considerably high investment and only drop after several years, not to mention the fact that winter is usually the wettest part of the year. I guess I'll just consider the deciduous habit a useful remnant of a more temperate ancestor.

tis a fine plant
pretty to look at
edible fruit to eat
all those pies i grew
up on- where ever it
comes from fine by me

Colvos Creek nursery, Vashon, WA May 2007 print catalog describes it as "evergreen" and "drought hardy". (See colvoscreeknursery.com to see if description is also on web site at present). HILLIER MANUAL OF TREES & SHRUBS (2002, David & Charles, Devon) calls it "semi-evergreen". Thomas, ORNAMENTAL SHRUBS, CLIMBERS AND BAMBOOS (1992, Sagapress/Timber, Portland) has it designated as "Partially evergreen".

I have seen it cultivated by Colvos and elsewhere here, wondered about the plant in the picture before I checked about references. Maybe the species is represented by different forms reflecting altitudinal distribution in the wild, the highest-growing ones being less evergreen and more hardy.

I wonder if it just likes the growing conditions associated with evergreens. The best blueberry picking spots in northern Saskatchewan are next to beds of moss among stands of pine and spruce, or in the new growth after a forest fire. In our short growing season, they produce the best when there is enough heat and rain at the right times. My freezer stock from 2 years ago is depleted, so hope this turns out to be a good year!

Last year there were no blueberries in most of Northern Ontario at all. Not even around Wawa which usually is phenomenal. Weather climate chance? Insect pollinators extermiantion by spraying insecticides? Or are they wind pollinated?
The year before though there was such a crop that I was able to get enough for two years supply. Very few birds ie partride ie ruff grouse in consequence but a drop in the recent explosion in bear sightings.
You could call this not boreal forest zone but blueberry empire.

The Azores are a very moist region with up to 100% of air humidity. This Summer was exceptionally dry with little rainfall.i guess this species would be resilient to some climatic deviations, because it's shiny leaves can help hold down some water.

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