Blueberry Highbush or Early Blueberry

Vaccinium ovalifolium Smith

(E) unignax, unignan, unisan

(E) unignax, unignan, unisan

Blueberry bushes tend to grow in patches. They are usually waist to shoulder high, with sturdy branches, and thin angled branchlets. Older bushes become dense and woody and their branches look bleached. The leaves are ovate and glabrous, bright green and thin in the spring, turning flaming orange and yellow in the fall. The pale pink urn-shaped flowers bloom very early in spring, appearing when the shrub just begins to leaf out. From late August to early November the bushes bear an abundance of juicy, round blue berries.



Blueberry shrubs are wonderfully abundant in Unalaska's hills and ravines. In good locations like sunny creek beds and damp, well-drained slopes, the branches will bend with the weight of the fruit, and the bushes look blue, even from a distance. Locally picked by the gallon for jams, jellies, pies, and freezing, the berries are tart and juicy, sweetening some after fall frosts begin. They are easier to pick in the fall when most of the leaves have fallen. Good ways to separate the leaves from the berries are to pour them between buckets and let the wind sift the leaves out, or fill the 151

bucket with water and skim off the floating leaves.

Before winter sets in, blueberry bushes send out new red-tipped growth with buds, ready for the first hint of spring. It flowers early and rapidly h develops fruit during our short, cool summers. The buds on these new red a sprigs will bloom in a jar of water, even in February, when you cannot wait for spring any longer. The tender little buds are also a favorite food of ptarmigan.

Pacific Northwest, southern (mostly coastal) Alaska to eastern Aleutians. ®

Alpine Blueberiy, Bog or Lowbush Bluebeny

Vaccinium uliginosum L.

(E) ugiidgin, uxiidngin, uxiidgin (A) mugazaalgis

Alpine blueberry is a low-growing, strongly branched, dwarf shrub, 4" to 24" tall. The leaves are broadly elliptic to rounded, usually less than W long. The small urn-shaped blossoms are rosy pink. The berries are dusty blue, ovate, and less than W long.

Compared with the highbush blueberry

(V. ovalifolium), the leaves are much smaller and rounder. Also, the blossoms are a deeper pink, and the dusty-blue berries are smaller, ovate, and have a much milder taste. While not nearly so abundant as V. ovalifolium, alpine blueberries can be found in prolific little patches. In late fall the leaves turn crimson orange.


Northern circumpolar, widespread across Alaska into eastern Aleutians.

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Berry Boosters

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