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Generally harvested from natural wooded areas in the Pacific Northwest. If harvested properly by snapping branches off with a quick twist, this action actually prunes the plants and improves subsequent harvests.
As a member of the Ericaceae (heath family), common relatives include heather, blueberry, heath, Arbutus (strawberry-tree), manzanita, mountain-laurel and azalea.
This species is native to Western North America, from British Columbia to Northern California.
Shrub, erect, bushy, spreading when young, 3-15 feet high with shoots that are red and very hairy when young. Leaves 0.5-1.2 inches with a flattened appearance, glossy bright green above and lighter below.
Some forms are evergreen while others loose their leaves yearly.
Red Huckleberry is actually the same species but is new growth on open grown plants, harvested after the first frost (generally December through March). It is the cold that helps promote the red color.
About 75% of the total production comes from the Puget Sound Basin in Western Washington.
The ancient name Vaccinium is of disputed origin.
The specific epithet name “ovatum” means egg-shaped, probably in reference to the leaves.
Recent Research Findings:
In one test, Fujino et al. (1981) showed that vaselife was not improved by recutting the stems. However, recutting stems is still warranted.