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Vaccinium deliciosum Piper

Blue huckleberry, cascade bilberry, cascade huckleberry

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderEricalesTea, persimmon, blueberry, Brazil nut, azalea, many others
FamilyEricaceaeHeath or heather family
GenusVacciniumAncient Latin name for billberry

About plant names...

Blue huckleberry is native to portions of the west coast of North America. The word "huckleberry" is probably a corruption of hurtleberry or whortleberry, names for English billberries; so settlers were probably naming huckleberries after similar-appearing shrubs from Europe. Hence this generic name for shrubs bearing small, edible berries has been applied to this species, found in the Pacific northwest, as well as Gaylussacia frondosa, found in the eastern and southeastern United States; and to several other species. See the comparison table below.

Identification: These deciduous shrubs remain less than 1′ (30 cm) high, forming sprawling mats. Leaves are alternate, oblong to egg-shaped, about ⅝-1¼″ (1.7-3.5 cm) × ¼-⅝″ (9-17 mm), with finely serrated (sometimes smooth) edges. Flowers are pink or red, globose (spherical) or urn-shaped, ⅛-3/16″ (4-6 mm) × ⅛-¼″ (5-7 mm). They appear from May to July. Berries are blue to dull black, coated with a white waxy powder, ¼-½″ (9-13 mm) in diameter.

Below are some of the shrubs that bear the name "huckleberry." For a more complete listing of blueberry-like shrubs, see our Vaccinium comparison chart.


Vaccinium deliciosum (blue huckleberry, cascade bilberry, cascade huckleberry)

8/27/2007 · South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, Ore­gon ID is uncertain

Gaylussacia baccata

Gaylussacia dumosa

Gaylussacia frondosa
Common Name

black huckleberry

dwarf huckleberry

blue huckleberry
Plant 1-3′ (30-91 cm) in height, with stiff branches that are light brown or greenish when young, changing to gray or black with age. Shrubs are found in colonies. 12-30″ (30-75 cm) in height, and heavily branched. Young twigs are covered with short, curly hairs. Deciduous, heavily branched, and up to 6½′ (2 m) in height.
Flowers Pink, about ⅜″ (9.5 mm) in size, and urn-shaped, in racemes. They bloom from May to July. Bell-shaped, cream-colored, tinged with pink, appearing in June. Greenish-white.
Leaves Oval, becoming orange/red in the fall. Leaves are coated with gold-colored resin glands. The resin can be seen by rubbing the leaves between your fingers, or on a piece of paper. 1″ (2.5 cm) long, leathery, and obovate to elliptic. Up to 2½″ (7 cm) × 1¼″ (3.5 cm), and hairy and glandular on the leaf bottoms.
Fruit Berries contain 10 seeds, fewer than blueberries. Berries are about ¼″ (8 mm) in diameter, each with 10 seeds, fewer than for blueberries. ¼″ (8 mm) in diameter, usually blue, but may be black or even white. Flowers and fruits hang on long petioles.
Range/ Zones

Habitats Open woods and thickets; in rocky, sandy soil Forests, especially pine forests; bogs, bays, wet sandy soil. Wooded areas near bogs and swamps; acidic soils
Type Wild Wild Wild
Occurrence Common    


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Vaccinium deliciosum

Vaccinium ovatum
Common Name

blue huckleberry

evergreen huckleberry
Plant Deciduous shrubs are less than 1′ (30 cm) high, forming sprawling mats. These plants are bushy shrubs up to 2-3′ (60-91 cm) in full sun, and up to 15′ (4.6 m) in the shade.
Flowers Pink or red, globose (spherical) or urn-shaped, ⅛-3/16″ (4-6 mm) × ⅛-¼″ (5-7 mm). They appear from May to July. About ½″ (1.3 cm) long, pinkish white, bell-shaped, in clusters of 3 to 10.
Leaves Alternate, oblong to egg-shaped, about ⅝-1¼″ (1.7-3.5 cm) × ¼-⅝″ (9-17 mm), with finely serrated (sometimes smooth) edges. Dark green and shiny, alternate, 1-2″ (2.5-5 cm) long. They are ovate (oval, wider at the base) in shape, with pointed tips, tough and leathery, with small serrations along the edges.
Fruit Blue to dull black, coated with a white waxy powder, ¼-½″ (9-13 mm) in diameter. Purplish black, ⅛-¼″ (4-7 mm) in diameter.
Range/ Zones

USDA Zones: 7-9
Habitats Alpine meadows, subalpine coniferous woods, talus slopes; elevations of 1969-6562′ (600-2000 m) Redwood forest, closed-cone pine forest, mixed evergreen forest
Type Wild Wild


Edibility: Like most other members of the blueberry family, the fruit is good fresh, dried, or cooked, and is high in vitamin C. The species deliciosum testifies to their culinary desirability. They have so far resisted cultivation, or we would all be eating them. Columbia Plateau Indians prepared a mixture of dried berries, pounded salmon, and salmon oil, a combination that was nutritious as well as tasty.

Online References:


in Paghat's Garden

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Turner Photographics' Wildflowers site


Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

The Jepson Manual


Vaccinium deliciosum description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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