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A deciduous shrub, 4 to 12 ft high, forming a dense thicket of erect, much-branched stems; young shoots downy to nearly glabrous. Leaves ovate to oval-lanceshaped, 1 to 31⁄2 in. long, half as wide; tapering at both ends, very shortly stalked, downy beneath on the midrib and veins, not toothed. Flowers produced during May in a series of short, few-flowered clusters near and at the leafless ends of the previous season’s twigs. Corolla cylindrical, but narrowed near the mouth, 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long, white or pale pink. Berries black, covered with a blue bloom, and from 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. wide, variable in size, colour, and flavour.
Native of eastern N. America; introduced in 1765. In British gardens this is the commonest, often the only N. American vaccinium. It not only grows well and blossoms freely, but its leaves turn to beautiful shades of red before falling in the autumn.
V. corymbosum is a very variable species, which has been shown to be polyploid and may be the result of hybridisation in post-glacial times between species that survived the Ice Age in southern habitats. Numerous variants have been named, and the following are still recognised in recent works of American botany:
V. albiflorum Hook.
V. corymbosum var. amoenum A. Gr., not V. amoenum Ait.
V. c. var. albiflorum (Hook.) Fern
V. corymbosum var. pallidum A. Gr., not V. pallidum Ait
V. corymbosum var. atrococcum A. Gr