Vaccinium uliginosum

Bog blueberry


The Basics

Taxonomy: Kingdom - Plantae (plants). Subkingdom - Tracheobionta (vascular plants). Superdivision - Spermatophyta (seed plants). Division - Magnoliophyta (flowering plants). Class - Magnoliopsida (dicotyledons). Subclass - Dilleniidae. Order - Ericales. Family - Ericaceae (heath). Genus - Vaccinium L. Species -Vaccinium uliginosum L.

Ecology: Bog blueberry remains an important component of forest and woodland understory through the early, mid-seral, and late stages of succession. It is important in the early shrub stages of tundra succession, as well as in climax stages. Bog blueberry can also be found in dense, mature-climax forest stands. Bog blueberry can sprout from underground plant parts following fire and remains important throughout successional stages. Mycorrhizal associations exist on bog blueberry roots that allow for increased plant nitrogen levels. These adaptations are important for nutrient uptake in the cold, poorly aerated, nitrogen-poor soils characteristic of bog blueberry sites.


Plants forming dense mats or open, extensive colonies; twigs of current season pale green, terete, glabrous or faintly puberulent, not verrucose. Leaf blades usually glaucous abaxially, green to glaucous adaxially, orbiculate, ovate, or obovate to narrowly elliptic, 8-14 3-7 mm, membranous, margins entire, surfaces often faintly puberulent, sometimes hairy throughout. Flowers: sepals usually distinct; corolla white to pink, 3-4(-5) mm, lobes 0.3-0.4 mm; filaments glabrous. Berries blue, 6-8 mm diam., glaucous.


Fire effects: Fire generally top-kills bog blueberry. Moderate- to high-severity fires may also kill underground vegetative structures. Bog blueberry sprouts from surviving rhizomes or rootstocks after low to moderate-severity fires. Burned aerial stems may also sprout. It roots in the organic layer and therefore only survives in patches where the organic layer is not consumed. Fire destroys the seeds, so bog blueberry must invade burned areas from off-site sources. Wildfires that occur in the wet sites that bog blueberry often occupies are generally low in severity.


Seed production: seeds of most Vaccinium species are not dormant and require no pretreatment for germination. Seeds are readily dispersed by the birds and animals that eat bog blueberry fruits. Bog blueberry seedlings can colonize exposed mineral soil, but seedlings are rare in established adult populations.

Vegetative regeneration: Bog blueberry regenerates vegetatively by layering or sprouting from rhizomes.

Species Distribution


USDA Plants Database
USDA, NRCS. 2016. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

USFS Plant Database
Habeck, R. J. 1992. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory.

Flora of North America
Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 19+ vols. New York and Oxford.

The Jepson Herbarium
The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California. B.G. Baldwin, D.H. Goldman, D.J. Keil, R. Patterson, T.J. Rosatti, and D.H. Wilken [editors]. 2012. 2nd edition, thoroughly revised and expanded. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture
Burke Museum. 2016 [Online]. University of Washington.