Vaccinium arboreum Marsh. - Farkleberry

Vaccinium arboreum plant

Family - Ericaceae

Stems - Woody, single or multiple from base, erect, to +3m tall. Twigs pubescent, reddish. New seasons growth pubescent to velutinous.

Vaccinium arboreum barkBark of mature stem.

Leaves - Alternate, short-petiolate. Petioles to 1.5mm long. Blades ovate to obovate or elliptic, to 7cm long, 4cm broad, deep green and glabrous above, dull green and ferruginous-pubescent below, rounded to blunt at apex, tapering to base, mucronate, entire or denticulate.

Vaccinium arboreum leaves

Inflorescence - Terminal and axillary racemes to -5cm long. Pedicels 5-6mm long in flower, elongating in fruit to +1.2cm, glabrous, often with one or more scalelike bracts. Bracts to -1mm long. Axis pubescent.

Flowers - Corolla campanulate, 3-4mm long and broad, 5-lobed at apex, white, glabrous. Lobes recurved, acute, -1mm long. Stamens 10, included. Filaments white, 1mm long. Anthers ferruginous, 1.5mm long, 2-awned. Awns to 1mm long. Style glabrous, +4mm long, greenish-white. Ovary inferior, 4-5-locular. Sepals 5, erect, acute, united at base for -2mm, free for -1mm. Berries globose, to 6mm in diameter.

Vaccinium arboreum flowers

Flowering - May - June.

Habitat - Rocky open woods, upland ridges and slopes, bluffs, glades (especially igneous), low woods along creeks or near swamps.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - This striking species is found in the lower 1/3 of Missouri basically southeast of a line from Vernon County to Pike County. The plant grows in acidic soils and doesn't transplant well which is probably why it is not seen much in cultivation. The fruits of this species are edible but are tough and hard to eat.
When small and immature, the 3 species of Vaccinium in Missouri can be difficult to differentiate in the field. The best way to tell the species apart is by looking at the leaf venation. The venation of V. arboreum is spaced widely apart. The venation of V. pallidum is spaced fairly close together. The veins of V. stamineum are very close together and sometimes hard to see. In the photo below, the venation of all three species is shown. From left to right the species are V. arboreum, V. stamineum and V. pallidum.

Vaccinium leaves

Photographs taken on Bell Mountain, MO., 6-1-03.