Blueberries in the Wild

When we are learning about nature, there are times that we become comfortable knowing what we know, and then sometimes nature takes us on a new journey of learning.

While walking along the boardwalk leading to a freshwater spring, I noticed a very familiar-shaped flower. I know that flower.  That’s a blueberry flower, but what in the world is it doing in a wetland habitat? I thought wild blueberries only grew in sandy soils. 

Upon research, it turns out there is more to the blueberry than I thought it would be!

Blueberries are native to eastern North America and are one of the few crop plants that originated here. The woods and swamps of Florida are populated with at least eight wild blueberry species, including the highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), the rabbiteye blueberry (Vaccinium virgatum), and the evergreen blueberry (Vaccinium darrowii)-Southern Highbush Blueberry Cultivars from the University of Florida

We are more familiar with the cultivar species-a plant variety that has been produced in cultivation by selective breeding. These are the ones that are common in u-pick and commercial farms. It gets more complex as I furthered research so I will leave a few web links at the end of this post for those that would like to explore further.

Blueberries in the Wild

Wild blueberries native to Florida are within the Vaccinium family; there are

  • Sparkleberry
  • Shiny blueberry
  • Deerberry
  • Darrow’s Blueberry
  • Northern Highbush Blueberry
  • Mayberry
  • Southern Highbush Blueberry
  • Lowbush Blueberry
  • Rabbiteye Blueberry
  • Narrowleaf Blueberry

All of these species have similar shaped flowers. They look like an upside-down tulip. I like to describe this as Tinkerbell’s dress. 

Talking about Tinkerbell’s dress, I think a kid’s book would be super cool to create. Since three Florida wild blueberries grow in different habitats, you can make the habitats different towns in the book. My creative mind is going berries!
Okay, before I jet off to write a children’s book, let’s look at two most commonly seen blueberries that grow in the wild.

Highbush – Wetland Habitat | Shiny blueberry – Sandhill Habitat

These wild blueberry plants are extremely beneficial for wildlife and to see, especially during their flower-fruit transformation. The more I look at the photos the more I need to really look at them- I mean really look at them. An example would be taking a closer look at the flowers. The flowers begin pink and then turn white, learning about that would be neat as well as taking a closer look inside of the flower. Oh how I do love it when I have creative excuses to go explore and photograph!

On that note, here’s a photography challenge- The Seasons of Florida Wild Blueberries. 

Winter– Flowering

Spring– Flowering – Fruiting – Ripening

Summer– Fruiting- Ripening – Leaves

Fall – Ripening – Leaves 

I was able to photograph the flower-fruit transformation of the Shiny Blueberry, and now I am looking forward to doing the same with the Highbush Blueberry. 

We can think of this as a fine art project or as an educational presentation, either or, it’s getting you to photograph nature and learn more about Florida’s native plants. 

Stay Creative! 

Links for further reading:

Reproductive Growth and Development of Blueberry

Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS)- Shiny Blueberry

Florida Native Plant Society (FNPS)- Highbush Blueberry

Blueberry Varieties for Florida 1


Observations · iNaturalist

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