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Vaccinium caespitosum Michx.

Dwarf Bilberry

Modern name

Vaccinium caespitosum Michx.

A dwarf deciduous shrub of tufted habit, 4 to 10 in., sometimes only 2 or 3 in. high; branches round, minutely downy or glabrous. Leaves obovate to narrowly wedge-shaped, tapered towards the base, toothed, usually 14 to 112 in. long, about half as wide, glabrous and shining. Flowers appearing in May with the young shoots, and produced singly on decurved stalks 18 in. long. Corolla pitcher-shaped, 15 in. long, pale pink, five-toothed at the much contracted mouth. Berry globose, about 14 in. wide, black with a blue bloom, sweet. Bot. Mag., t. 3429.

Native of N. America, spreading across the continent from Labrador to Alaska and southwards to New York on the east, to California on the west, inhabiting mountain summits at its more southerly limits. Introduced in 1823. It is a neat little shrub, very suitable for the rock garden.

V. deliciosum Piper – It was in 1915 that this species was first distinguished and named. Previous to that date it was probably confused with V. caespitosum, to which it is closely related. It grows 4 to 12 in. high, has the same tufted habit and the same round, glabrous young shoots, but the leaves are of thicker texture and instead of being bright green on both sides are pale and rather glaucous beneath. In shape they are obovate to oval, pointed, tapered at the base, roundish-toothed, 12 to 114 in. long. Flowers solitary, drooping from the leaf-axils; corolla rather globose, pinkish, 15 in. long. Fruit globose, black with a blue bloom, sweet.

Whilst V. caespitosum is distributed right across N. America, V. deliciosum appears to be confined to the northwest, more especially to Washington. Piper, the author of the name, describes it as abundant in the alpine meadows at about the limit of trees in the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. It is a neat, deciduous shrub suitable for a moist spot in the rock garden and was introduced some years ago to this country by F. R. S. Balfour of Dawyck.



Other species in the genus