Vaccinium membranaceum, also known as Black Huckleberry, is a nutritious and flavourful spreading shrub growing to a height of 1 1/2-6 ft. and produces small oval leaves and single, white to pale yellowish-pink flowers. These flowers give way to dark purple berries that are not only edible but also highly nutritious.
In the wild, Black Huckleberry is an important food source for wildlife, including Black and Grizzly Bears, deer, Elk, Moose, and Ruffed Grouse. However, it’s also a popular choice for humans who enjoy picking the berries and using them in jams, pies, and other dishes.
This shrub prefers open woodland and full sun, and is tolerant of both dry and moist soils. It’s also highly drought-tolerant and can thrive in a variety of growing conditions.
In addition to its culinary uses, Black Huckleberry also has medicinal properties. An infusion of the roots and stems has been used in the treatment of heart troubles, arthritis, and rheumatism.
Vaccinium membranaceum is a versatile and beneficial addition to any garden or landscape. With its sweet-tart berries and attractive flowers, it’s sure to be a hit with both wildlife and humans alike.
General: Medium-sized shrub; stems erect to spreading, densely-branched, to 1.5 m tall; young twigs somewhat angled, yellow-green, glabrous or slightly hairy; old bark greyish and shredding.
Leaves: Alternate, deciduous, egg-shaped to elliptic-oblong, 1.5-6 cm long, (0.6) 1-3 cm wide, gradually narrowing to pointed tip, rounded to tapered at base, margins finely toothed nearly full length, obscurely veined and not lustrous, sparsely glandular and somewhat paler on the lower surfaces.
Flowers: Solitary in leaf axils, appearing when or after the leaves expand; flower stalks 5-10 mm long; corollas pale yellowish-pink, urn-shaped, 4-6 mm long, about 3/4 as wide; calyces shallowly lobed, lobes deciduous in fruit; filaments glabrous, shorter than anthers; anthers awned, with slender, terminal tubes.
Fruits: Berries, globe-shaped, 7-10 mm wide, purple or dark purplish-reddish, without a pale bloom; edible and sweet.