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Blue Ridge Blueberry (Vaccinium pallidum)

Life history

Species overview

Blue Ridge Blueberry (Vaccinium pallidum), a Wisconsin Special Concern plant, is found in dry, upland woods and old fields. Blooming occurs late May through late June; fruiting occurs throughout August. The optimal identification period for this species is late May through late August.

Synonyms: Vaccinium vacillans


  • Distinguishing characteristics: Leaves entire or seldom serrulate, 2.5 to 5 cm, bluish-white, waxy coating underneath, smooth or occasionally somewhat hairy.
  • Flower characteristics: Pitcher-like, 4 to 8 mm.
  • Fruit characteristics: Blue to (rarely) black, 5 to 8 mm, covered with a bluish-white waxy coating.
  • Leaf characteristics: Ovate to broadly elliptic, entire or seldom serrulate, 2.5 to 5 cm, bluish-white, waxy coating underneath, occasionally hairy.


  • Blooming phenology: late May through late June
  • Fruiting phenology: throughout August
  • Optimum time to identify: The optimal identification period for this species is late May through late August


  • Growth form: Shrub
  • Vegetative reproduction: Rhizomatous
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Pinus banksiana, P. strobus, Quercus ellipsoidalis, Populus tremuloides, P. grandidentata, Prunus serotina, Pteridium aquilinum, Carex pensylvanica, Vaccinium angustifolium, Comptonia peregrina, Gaylussacia bacata, Schizachne purpurascens, Oryzopsis asperifolia, and Danthonia spicata. Across its range, V. pallidum is known to hybridize with many other Vaccinium species.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Blue Ridge Blueberry (Vaccinium pallidum). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.

Documented locations of Vaccinium pallidum in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of July 2015.

Summary Information
State StatusSC
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found in dry, upland woods and old fields.
  • Soils: Sandy soils.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Blue Ridge Blueberry. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Central Sands Pine - Oak Forest 2
Oak Barrens 3
Pine Barrens 2

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Blue Ridge Blueberry. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Ecological landscape score
Northeast Sands 3

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid site preparation that heavily disturbs herbaceous ground layer and soil; these include bulldozing and furrowing, as well as grubbing and stump removal.
  • Avoid locating landings, staging areas, or access routes in open sandy areas dominated by native grasses.
  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • Prescribed burns and/or brushing may be beneficial (dependent on local site conditions).
  • Maintain low canopy cover areas for savanna and barrens plant species.


Blue Ridge Blueberry Photo.

Photo © Steven J. Baskauf.

Blue Ridge Blueberry Photo.

Photo © Suzan Campbell.

Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Wednesday, May 05, 2021
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition