Gaylussacia baccata (Wangenh.) Koch - Black Huckleberry
Native , Common
By Steven Clemants
Not peer reviewed
Last Modified 02/06/2013
Common NamesBlack Huckleberry
Field IdentificationA shrub with sessile resin glands on both leaf surfaces and blue-black fruit.
Food usesDisclaimer: The information provided here is for reference and historical use. We do not recommend nor do we condone the use of this species for food purposes without first consulting a physician.
The fruits are eaten raw and in pies. "Emerson says [the berries] are more valued in market than those of other species" (Hedrick, 1972).
Nomenclature*Andromeda baccata Wangenh., Beytr. Teut. Forstwiss. 111, t. 30, fig. 69. 1787. *Vaccinium decamerocarpon Dunal ex DC., Prodr. 7(2): 566. 1839. *Gaylussacia baccata (Wangenh.) K. Koch, Dendrologie 2: 93. 1872. *Decachaena baccata (Wangenh.) Small, Man. S.E. Fl. 1008. 1933. TYPE: Location and collector unknown (Lectotype: Wangenh., Beytr. Teut. Forstwiss. 111, t. 30, fig.69. 1787), selected by (Mackenzie, 1907).
*Vaccinium resinosum Aiton, Hort. Kew. 2: 12. 1789. *Decamerium resinosum (Aiton) Nutt., Trans. Amer. Phil. Soc. n.s., 8: 260. *Gaylussacia resinosa (Aiton) Torr. & A. Gray ex Torr., Fl. New York 1: 449. 1843. *Adnaria resinosa (Aiton) Kuntze, Revis. Gen. Pl. 2: 383. 1891. TYPE: Hort Kew: 1777, collector unknown (Holotype: BM, photo GH!).
*Vaccinium parviflorum Andrews, Bot. Repos. 2: t. 125. 1800. TYPE: Type not cited, the plate (drawn in May 1799 at the Hemmersmith Nursery), should be considered the type.
*Gaylussacia resinosa var. glaucocarpa B. L. Rob., Rhodora 2: 81. 1900. *Gaylussacia baccata f. glaucocarpa (B. L. Rob.) Mack., Torreya 7: 60. 1907. *Decachaena baccata var. glaucophylla Small, Man. S.E. Fl. 1008. 1933, nom illeg. (Art. 11.4). TYPE: United States. New Hampshire: Cheshire Co.; shore of Thorndike Pond, Jaffrey, 23 Aug. 1896, B. L. Robinson 58 (Holotype: GH!; Isotype: NEBC!). [with glaucous blue fruit]
*Gaylussacia resinosa var. leucocarpa Porter, Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 16: 21. 1889. *Gaylussacia resinosa f. leucocarpa (Porter) Britton, Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 17: 125. 1890. *Gaylussacia baccata f. leucocarpa (Porter) Fernald, Rhodora 10: 53. 1908. TYPE: Type not designated, two elements cited. [with white or pinkish, translucent fruits]
DescriptionHABIT perennial, deciduous, chamaephyte, shrubs, autotrophic, monoclinous, with adventitious roots and with fibrous roots, 0.3-1.4 m tall, not modified or with rhizomes.
STEMS erect or ascending, round, not winged, "regular". Prickles absent. Bark smooth, not exfoliating, gray or black. Branches erect or ascending, dark violet or dark reddish violet or light gray, round, not winged, 1.2-3 mm in diam. Twigs reddish orange or light orange or orange or orange-yellow or dark orange-yellow or light violet, not odoriferous, round, 0.6-1.2 mm in diam., smooth, hairs short and unbranched, spreading, unicellular, uniseriate, white, moderately dense, throughout, glabrescent, glands present, glands sessile, orange-yellow. Pith present, light yellow, round, continuous, nodal diaphragm absent. Thorns absent. Sap translucent. Resin absent.
BUDS terminal and axillary buds monomorphic. Terminal bud absent. Axillary buds present, 1, ovate, 0.9-1.5 mm long, pointed. Bud scales 2, orange-red, imbricate, ovate, chartaceous, acute, glabrous, without glands. Bud scale scars. Leaf scars crescent, 0.3-0.4 mm high, 0.7-0.8 mm wide, none. Vascular bundle scars 1, circular, 0.1 mm tall.
LEAVES alternate, 1 per node, spaced evenly along stem, divergent from stem, simple. Stipules absent. Leaves petiolate, petiole "typical", 0.1-0.5 cm long, hairs short and unbranched, spreading, unicellular, uniseriate, sparse, throughout, not glabrescent, glands present, glands sessile. Leaf: abaxial surface greenish yellow, adaxial surface yellowish green, blades narrowly elliptic or elliptic, plane, symmetric, 1.7-6.7 cm long, 0.9-2.7 cm wide, chartaceous, base cuneate, margin ciliate, apex acute or obtuse, abaxial surface hairs short and unbranched, spreading, unicellular, uniseriate, white, sparse, throughout except midveins, not glabrescent, glands present, glands sessile, orange-yellow, adaxial surface hairs short and unbranched, appressed, unicellular, uniseriate, white, sparse, throughout, not glabrescent, glands present, glands sessile, orange-yellow. Eucamptodromous venation, veins 4-7. Leaf lobes absent. Spines absent. Tendrils absent.
INFLORESCENCES monomorphic, regular or, if dimorphic, female inflorescence simple, raceme, axillary. Peduncle present, 0.1-0.3 cm long. Rachis present, 0.5-1.3 cm long, with bracts. Bracts sessile, blades: abaxial surface orange, adaxial surface orange, narrowly elliptic or elliptic, curved, 2.2-4.5 mm long, 0.8-1.9 mm wide, base cuneate, margin ciliate, apex acute, abaxial surface glabrous, glands present, glands sessile, orange-yellow, adaxial surface glabrous, without glands. Pedicel 2.5-8 mm long, hairs short and unbranched or glabrous, hairs spreading, unicellular, uniseriate, white, sparse, throughout, not glabrescent, glands present, glands sessile, orange-yellow. Bracteoles 2, sessile, other (variable position on pedicel), not connate, bracteoles: abaxial surface light orange-yellow or light greenish yellow, bracteole: adaxial surface light orange-yellow or light greenish yellow, linear or narrowly elliptic, curved, 1.6-3 mm long, 0.2-0.5 mm wide, base cuneate, margin entire or ciliate, apex acute. Cupules absent.
FLOWERS precocious or coetaneous, formed on short shoots, monomorphic, with sepals and petals readily distinguishable from one another, bisexual, flowers violet or reddish violet or white, 5-merous, 5.2-6.5 mm long, 2.5-4.9 mm wide, 3-7 flowers per inflorescence, fragrance present (slightly sweetish odor), perianth of two whorls. Calyx present, actinomorphic, campanulate, of fused sepals, persistent, abaxial and adaxial surfaces the same color, dark orange-yellow or dark yellow, 1.8-2.5 mm long, 2.2-3.9 mm wide, tube 1-1.3 mm long, calyx limb 0.8-1.5 mm long, 2.2-3.9 mm wide. Sepals or sepal lobes 5, very widely ovate or deltate or widely depressed ovate or shallowly deltate, 0.8-1.2 mm long, 1.1-1.2 mm wide, base truncate, margin entire, apex acute, abaxial surface glabrous, glands present, glands sessile, orange-yellow, adaxial surface glabrous, without glands. Epicalyx absent. Corolla present, actinomorphic, urceolate, of fused petals, deciduous, abaxial and adaxial surfaces the same color, violet or reddish violet or white, 4.2-5.5 mm long, 2.6-6 mm wide, corolla limb 0.5-1 mm long, 2-6 mm wide. Petals or petal lobes 5, "normal", deltate, 0.8-1.3 mm long, 0.9-1.5 mm wide, base truncate, margin entire, apex acute, abaxial surface glabrous, glands present, glands sessile, orange-yellow, adaxial surface glabrous, without glands. Gynoecium syncarpous. Carpels 5. Stigmas 1, capitate. Styles not persistent, 1, 4.2-5.9 mm long. Ovary inferior, 0.8-1.2 mm long, 1.5-2 mm wide, nectiferous disk present. Locules 10. Placentation axile. Androecium obdiplostemonous. Stamens 10, 3.6-4.5 mm long. Anthers elongate, opening by pores, opening 1/4 of entire anther, bithecal, light orange-yellow, minutely papillose, awned. Filaments free, S-curved, light orange-yellow, hairs short and unbranched, erect, unicellular, uniseriate. Staminodes absent.
FRUITS a bacca (berry), blue or violet (early in development), subglobose, 6.5-9 mm long, 5.9-9 mm wide, glabrous, without glands.
SEEDS 10, orange or light orange-yellow, oblong, 2-2.9 mm long, 1.6-1.7 mm wide, wingless, not tailed, rugose.
Woods, thickets, usually dry sandy soil, rocky ledges, occasionally in wet sphagnum peat. Common in coastal heathlands on Long Island where it is apparently becoming more common because of the lack of fire. Is is often associated with Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, Carex pensylvanicum, Epigaea repens, Gaylussacia frondosa, Hudsonia ericoides, Quercus prinus, Schizachyrium scoparium, Vaccinium angustifolium, and Vaccinium pallidum.
Rarity StatusHeritage global rank -- G5
Connecticut -- not listed
New Jersey -- not listed
New York -- not listed
May [week 1] - June [week 4].
The species is self-sterile (Lovell, 1940).
Melittophily -- The flowers are pollinated by andrenid bees (particularly Andrena vicina Sm. and A. w-scripta Vier.) or bumble bees. Also visiting the flowers are Andrena bradleyi Vier., A. carolina Vier., A. regularis Mall., Apis mellifera L., Bombus impatiens Cress., B. sandersonii Flkn., B. ternarius Say, B. terricola Kby., and Nomada cuneatus Roberson.
Other -- Other floral visitors include Eristalis dimidiata Wied., Helophilus latifrons Lw., H. fasciatus Walk., Hybomitra typhus (Whit.), Incisalia niphon (Hübner), Sericomyia transversa (Osb.), and Thryos sp., "wandering around in flowers" [see thrip pollination syndrome in Calluna vulgaris].
July [week 1] - Sep [week 4].
(Reiners, 1965) (Vines, 1960)
Endozoochory -- The fruit is eaten by at least six species of birds, including ruffed grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, greater prairie chicken, bobwhite quail, wild turkey, and morning dove. "During the fruiting season, bird feces have a blue color and the larger seeds of Gaylussacia baccata may be conspicuous" (Reiners, 1965).
(Young & Young, 1992)
Germinable -- Untreated seeds are slow to germinate.
Stratification -- Stratification improves germination.