Vaccinium parvifolium, commonly known as Red Huckleberry, is a beautiful and useful deciduous shrub that can add value to any garden. This graceful shrub grows up to 4 meters tall and has slender, green, and sharply angled branches that produce small, bright green oval leaves in the summer. The leaves turn reddish in the fall, creating a striking contrast to the bright green branches.
In late spring to early summer, urn-shaped, waxy, greenish to cream flowers bloom, followed by an abundance of small, translucent, bright red berries that are edible and rich in vitamin C and energy. The berries can be used to make jams, jellies, pies, and preserves, and they are also a favourite food for birds and wildlife.
Red Huckleberry grows well in a variety of soil types, from dry to moist, as long as the soil is rich and acidic. It can also tolerate low levels of calcium carbonate. This shrub thrives in a range of light conditions, from full sun to shade.
Apart from its ornamental value, Red Huckleberry has several other uses. Its berries are traditionally used to treat colds, and a tea can be made from the dried fruit and leaves. The herb also has antiseptic, astringent, carminative, and hypoglycemic properties. In addition, the long straight green stems and twigs of Red Huckleberry have been used to make brooms.
Overall, Red Huckleberry is a versatile and valuable addition to any garden, attracting beneficial insects and wildlife while also providing medicinal and culinary benefits.
General: Erect shrub; stems 1-4 m tall, bright green, very prominently angled, glabrous or minutely hairy when young.
Leaves: Alternate, deciduous (often some persistent), oval to oblong-elliptic, 0.9-3 cm long, 0.4-1.6 cm wide, entire, glabrous to minutely hairy, tips usually rounded; juvenile leaves persistent, dark green, finely toothed.
Flowers: Solitary in leaf axils; flower stalks 2-8 mm long; corollas yellowish-pink, waxy, broadly bell- to urn-shaped, 4-5 mm long; calyces shallowly lobed, the lobes persistent in fruit; filaments glabrous; anthers with prominent spreading awns, the apical pore-bearing tubes short.
Fruits: Berries, globe-shaped, 6-10 mm wide, bright red; edible, often tart.