Hillside blueberry, yet another important shrub in the forests of southeastern Massachusetts, is often confused with either
lowbush blueberry or black huckleberry. The epithet pallidum (pale) points out a feature of hillside blueberry helpful for
identification: its foliage is usually of much paler green, as compared with leaves of lowbush blueberry, and the difference
is especially striking in spring. Of the three blueberry species in eastern Massachusetts (lowbush
), hillside blueberry occupies an intermediate position as far as the height: it usually is 2-3 times taller than lowbush
blueberry and has wider leaves. Hillside and lowbush blueberry have somewhat different habitat requirements, hillside blueberry
more likely being forest understory species, while lowbush blueberry is a shrub of more open habitats, often growing high
up on rocks or else in frost pockets of Myles Standish SF. The name “hillside blueberry” is actually a direct translation
of a formerly used Latin name (a synonym)—Vaccinium vacillans. You now know how to differentiate between lowbush and hillside
blueberry, but what about
with which hillside blueberry is also often mixed? This is not difficult, either, even during the wintertime, when both stay
leafless. Huckleberry produces “real” woody stems covered with dark bark. They are not flexible, breaking easily when bent.
Hillside blueberry, on the contrary, has flexible green stems that appear “not enough woody,” though it is still considered
a shrubby plant.
Lowbush blueberry and hillside blueberry (taller and paler, with wider leaves), July 19 Myles Standish SF
October 12, Myles Standish SF