The Flora of N. America[
] is treating the species Vaccinium corymbosum in a much looser sense than many other treatments. Many related taxa, including this one, which are treated as distinct elsewhere, are treated as variants and reduced to synonymy of Vaccinium corymbosum. Until we see wider acceptance of this treatment we are maintaining this species as distinct here.
To quote from the Flora of N. America:- ‘Every morphological variant of the high-bush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) has been named formally at one time or another. At least 25 such taxa have been raised to specific rank; none is distinct throughout its putative range nor has the properties normally associated with biological species, including Vaccinium atrococcum and V. elliottii. See S. P. Vander Kloet (1980) for a complete list of synonyms. Feral populations readily become established wherever cultivars have been planted, e.g., Britain, British Columbia, Japan, Missouri, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Washington, and Wisconsin[
Common Name: Mayberry
Vaccinium elliottii is a much-branched, deciduous shrub that can grow from 90 - 200cm tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food.
South-eastern N. America - Virginia, south to Florida and west to Texas.
Woods, thickets and swamps[
Requires a moist but freely-draining lime free soil, preferring one that is rich in peat or a light loamy soil with added leaf-mould[
]. Prefers a very acid soil with a pH in the range of 4.5 to 6, plants soon become chlorotic when lime is present. Succeeds in full sun or light shade though it fruits better in a sunny position[
]. Requires shelter from strong winds[
Dislikes root disturbance, plants are best grown in pots until being planted out in their permanent positions[
Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. A sweet flavour. The fruit is about 8mm in diameter[
This species is closely related to Vaccinium corymbsum, and in some treatments is considered to be no more than a synonym. The following notes for medicinal use almost certainly also apply here:-
The fruit is a rich source of micro-nutrients and, in addition to being edible, is said to have many health benefits. It has a gentle laxative action and, if taken regularly, is said to improve the circulation, especially of the small blood vessels, which can help prevent eye problems such as cataracts and glaucoma. Other conditions that can benefit include ulcers, urinary tract infections, multiple sclerosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fever, varicose veins and haemorrhoids[
The dried fruit and leaves are used in the treatment of diarrhoea[
The leaves are astringent, antiinflammatory, blood purifier. An infusion is used in the treatment of sore throats and other inflammations of the mouth or mucous membranes of the throat, as well as in the treatment of infant's colic[
Traditionally, the smoke from burning dried blueberry flowers is inhaled as a treatment of insanity[
The fruit is high in fiber and vitamin C. It also contains ellagitannins, flavonols such as quercetin and kaempferol, catechins, and phenolic acids. Other constituents include anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins, beta-carotene, chlorogenic acid, glutathione, and alpha-tocopherol[
The anthocyanidins and proanthocyanidins have antioxidant activity and promote blood circulation, especially of the small blood vessels. However, there is some evidence that when eaten as part of the whole fruit, they may not be well absorbed[
Trials suggest that the antioxidant effects of blueberry extracts might have anticancer activity and potentially reduce normal oxidative cellular damage that occurs with aging[
Ethyl acetate extracts of blueberry fruit inhibit ornithine decarboxylase, which is a key enzyme in tumor progression[
Blueberry, like its relative, the cranberry, also appears to prevent bacterial adhesion to the bladder and bacterial colonization[
Seed - sow late winter in a greenhouse in a lime-free potting mix and only just cover the seed[
]. Stored seed might require a period of up to 3 months cold stratification[
]. Another report says that it is best to sow the seed in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe[
]. Once they are about 5cm tall, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 8cm with a heel, August in a frame[
]. Slow and difficult.
Layering in late summer or early autumn[
]. Another report says that spring is the best time to layer[
]. Takes 18 months[
Division of suckers in spring or early autumn[