Wild Huckleberry - Vaccinium membranaceum
Wild Huckleberry, also known as Mountain Huckleberry or Thinleaf Huckleberry, has been cultivated, consumed, and enjoyed for thousands of years. Native to the woodland areas of the western United States, Wild Huckleberry has a wide variety of habitats and thrives in many conditions. New leaves on the plant are red and turn into a vibrant shade of green as they mature. The bushes are deciduous, and leaves turn a red-purple color in the fall. Wild Huckleberries prefer a strongly acidic soil that is consistently moist but established plants can tolerate brief periods of drought. The plants produce white, solitary flowers that occur in clusters throughout the bush around mid-spring. Huckleberry berries are a quarter to a half inch in size and can be black, purple, or red in color. Berries typically begin red and ripen to a rich purple-black color. Each bush is a prolific producer, with branches weighted to the ground with fruit by harvest time. The fruit ripens in late summer to early fall and can be enjoyed fresh, frozen, preserved, dried, or baked in pies. Propagation can be through seeds but the plant dominantly reproduces via shoots from its extensive root system. Fires are beneficial to Wild Huckleberries as the bushes will reemerge from roots if the fire is not too severe. Native Americans frequently set fire to areas rich in Wild Huckleberry bushes in order to rid the area of other plants and encourage huckleberry growth. The huckleberry is Idaho’s official state fruit. The division of the Huckleberry plant is between Eastern and Western North America. Eastern Huckleberry will essentially include Black and Box Huckleberries. The Black Huckleberry have attractive red flowers producing black fruit. The Box Huckleberry have appealing pink flowers producing blue fruit. Western Huckleberry plants will mainly include Evergreen Huckleberry and Red Huckleberry. The Evergreen Huckleberry have pleasing whitish-pink flowers producing dark purple fruit. The Red Huckleberry have sublime light pink flowers producing red berries. The Huckleberry plants pretty flowers bloom in spring with the fruit coming to bear in the mid-summer months. Use of these plants in landscaping can be very beneficial, since these plants can grow to be quite dense they are valuable as informal hedges or dividers. The oval-shaped leaves and bright flowers can enhance any garden and with fruit bearing in summer and last until early winter as a plus. These plants are tolerant of almost any amounts of shade or sun as long as they are planted in well-drained rich soil. A low maintenance plant that does not multiply easy you can grow your garden by transplanting, rhizome cutting or careful seeding.