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Gaylussacia brachycera

Gaylussacia brachycera (Michx.) A. Gray

Buxella brachycera (Michx.) Small

Box-huckleberry, Box-leaved whortleberry

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderEricalesTea, persimmon, blueberry, Brazil nut, azalea, many others
FamilyEricaceaeHeath or heather family
GenusGaylussaciaFor chemist and physicist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac
Speciesbrachycera“Short-horned”

About plant names...

Box huckleberry is a North American native species. This species propagates clonally, producing expanding colonies by sending out roots. This appears to be its only means of propagation, and with remaining populations dwindling and a low rate of propagation, it is considered a critically imperiled species. A colony in Pennsylvania is estimated at up to 8,000 years old, making it at least a contender for oldest woody plant east of the Rocky mountains. Another colony, also in Pennsylvania, is about 1,300 year old. A New Jersey colony spans 3.8 hectares and is estimated at up to 10,000 years in age.

Identification: These low evergreen shrubs are 6-18" (15-45 cm) high. Leaves resemble boxwood leaves, the source of its common names. They do not have the resin glands found in other huckleberries (that is, huckleberries in the Gaylussacia genus; there are also some members of Vaccinium that are called huckleberries and lack resin glands.) Leaves are dark, glossy green, becoming bronze-colored or reddish-purple in the fall. They are ovate, with crenate or serrulate edges and leaf petioles (stems) ¹/₃₂-⅛" (0.5-3 mm) long. Flowers are white or pinkish, urn-shaped, about ⅛" (4 mm) in size, appearing from May to June. Fruits resemble blueberries, but have fewer, larger seeds. They are about ⅜" (1.2 cm) in size.

This Gaylussacia and Vaccinium comparison chart com­pares these closely related genera, both of which contain plants called huckleberries.

Edibility: Berries are edible, but tasteless.

Online References:

Gaylussacia brachycera on www.naturalheritage.state.pa.us (PDF)

Gaylussacia brachycera on Wikipedia

Gaylussacia brachycera at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Gaylussacia brachycera on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Gaylussacia brachycera on eFloras

Gaylussacia brachycera (Box-huckleberry, Box-leaved whortleberry)

5/15/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 21 × 14" (52 × 34 cm)

Gaylussacia brachycera description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 17 Oct 2013.

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Gaylussacia brachycera (Box-huckleberry, Box-leaved whortleberry)

5/15/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm)

Gaylussacia brachycera (Box-huckleberry, Box-leaved whortleberry)

6/15/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 16 × 12" (41 × 31 cm)

Gaylussacia brachycera (Box-huckleberry, Box-leaved whortleberry)

9/14/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm)

Gaylussacia brachycera (Box-huckleberry, Box-leaved whortleberry)

5/15/2010 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 14 × 9" (35 × 23 cm)

Range:

About this map...