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Vaccinium membranaceum

Vaccinium membranaceum Douglas ex Torr.

Thinleaf Huckleberry, Square-twig Blueberry, Mountain Huckleberry

Ericaceae (Heath Family)

Synonym(s): Vaccinium coccineum, Vaccinium globulare, Vaccinium membranaceum var. rigidum


USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

A spreading shrub, 1 1/2-6 ft. tall, with small oval leaves and single, white to pale yellowish-pink flowers hanging on short pedicels from leaf axils. The tubular flowers are followed by edible, dark purple berries.

This is an important and nutritious food source for Black and Grizzly Bears, which consume not only the berries but also other plant parts, as well as deer, Elk, Moose, and Ruffed Grouse.


From the Image Gallery

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Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Up to about 6 feet tall.
Leaf: Green
Fruit: Black or deep purple, rarely red or white.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink , Yellow , Brown
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun
Bloom Notes: White, cream, yellowish pink or bronze.


USA: AZ , CA , ID , MI , MN , MT , OR , SD , UT , WA , WY
Canada: BC
Native Distribution: B.C. to n. CA, e. to MT & ID; also two occurences in the Black Hills
Native Habitat: Conifer woods on mt. slopes

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist , Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Moist to mesic, acid soil.


Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Description: Vaccinium species are propagated by seeds, cuttings and rooted suckers of offshoots.
Seed Treatment: Dormancy varies. A 3 month cold-moist stratification may be necessary.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

Find seed sources for this species at the Native Seed Network.

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Native Seed Network - Corvallis, OR

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1993 VOL. 10, NO.2 - Berry Browsing in the Backyard, Director\'s Report, Essays on Trillium\'s, Natio...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Vaccinium membranaceum in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Vaccinium membranaceum in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Vaccinium membranaceum


Record Modified: 2023-03-01
Research By: TWC Staff

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