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Genus of the Week

Week of August 23-29

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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:


Subclass: Dicotyledoneae
Superorder: Caryophyllidae
Order: Ericales
Family: Ericaceae (The Heaths)
Tribe: Vaccinioideae
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 infections.

Here are a few links to images and descriptions of different Vaccinium species:


  1. Grieve, M. (C. F. Leyel, ed.). A Modern Herbal. London, Tiger Books International: 1973.
  2. Heywood, V.H., ed. Flowering Plants of the World. New York, Oxford University Press: 1993.
  3. 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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