Genus of the Week
Week of August 23-29
This page has been created for people who want to learn more about plants, especially in the
context of their taxonomy (Latin names, etc.). This is by no means an exhaustive list of
all available Web resources for a particular genus.
If you like this page, you might also want to visit the Land of the Glandular Trichomes
, a microscopic look at plants in the Lamiaceae family. Also, you can see my contribution to the
Conservation New England web site, entitled
"The Introduction of Non-Native Plants into Massachusetts".
This week's genus:
Family: Ericaceae (The Heaths)
Number of Species: At least 7
Root: From the Latin "vacci" and "nium", translating roughly to "pertaining to cows".
The genus Vaccinium is probably best known for producing the edible fruits commonly
known as Cranberries and Blueberries. Several species in this genus are native to the New
England area, representing the few crops that we can claim as our own. Plants grow as either
upright shrubs or creeping woody branches, and most require swampy/wetland environments to
thrive. Plants in this genus have been valued for decades for the astringent properties
and Vitamin C content of their fruit, and the ability of the fruits of some species
(V. myrtillus, the Bilberry, and V. macrocarpus, the Cranberry), to treat bladder
Here are a few links to images and descriptions of different Vaccinium species:
- To find out more about the Cranberry (V. macrocarpon) and its importance as a crop
in New England ,please visit Marsha Salett's page:
Cranberry Cultivation in
- Learn about the Bog
Blueberry (V. uliginosum) from the Fire Effects Information Service Web Site.
Sure, it's in boring text form, but it's from the Federal government, so there's a lot of
- Catch a glimpse of a
pollen grain from V. vitis-idaea (Lingonberry), brought to you by the University of
Cambridge Department of Plant Sciences.
- The Hawaiian Flower Essences web site has a photo and information about
Ohelo (V. reticulatum), a species endemic to Hawaii.
- Grieve, M. (C. F. Leyel, ed.). A Modern Herbal. London, Tiger Books International: 1973.
- Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
- Neiring, William A. and Nancy C. Olmstead., eds. The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American
Wildflowers, Eastern Region. Alfred A. Knopf, New York: 1979.
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