Vaccinium stamineum

A white-flowering bush with edible blue berries

Vaccinium stamineum deerberry

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA

This species of native perennial flowering shrub tends to bloom in the spring and thus is something we will have to look for after the winter’s snow melts. The blooming period is April to June. It is also called by the common names tall deerberry, squaw huckleberry, highbush huckleberry, buckberry, and Southern gooseberry. It belongs to the heath family and is quite variable in form.

It normally grows about 5 feet high, but can be larger. It has multiple twisted trunks that are covered in peeling reddish bark. The shrub is highly branched, with branches tapering into thin twigs. The leaves are alternate and drop off in autumn. The leaves are oval in shape with tapered tips. The edges are smooth. The flowers form drooping clusters that grow from the leaf axils. There are five greenish-white petals that fuse into a bell-shaped corolla. Sometimes there is a tinge of pink on the petals. The long yellow stamens protrude beyond the petals. There are also five green sepals. The style is even longer than the stamens.

The fruit that forms is fairly large for the genus and are consumed by a variety of birds and mammals, including deer. These berries turn from green to blue-black and often have a whitish bloom. They are similar in appearance to Blueberries. The fruit is produced in the summer and early fall. The berries are edible for humans and in the South have been gathered for pies and preserves. The taste tends to be a bit tart.

The shrub usually grows in dry, rocky habitats in fields and forests but is also known to grow around bogs and swamps. The shrub can spread by seed or by growth of rhizomes. Quite often the plant forms thickets. Its range extends throughout most of the eastern part of North America and the southern Midwest. It is documented in all Pennsyvania counties. Plants can be purchased for ornamental use at many nurseries.

Contributed by: Mark Welchley

Grows in dry woods, clearings, and barrens.

Present throughout the state.

Range: Eastern North America and southern midwest.

Wetland codes

Flowers May to June.

Fruits September to October.

S-rank:  No Rank
G-rank:  G5 (Secure)

Vaccinium stamineum deerberry

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA
Vaccinium stamineum gallery
Plant Life-Form
deciduous shrub
Common Names