Among our team, a favorite childhood memory is the hunt for huckleberries in the woodlands. Many of us fondly remember sweet and juicy nearly-black berries that would rarely make it home for pancakes, part because the birds and wildlife usually beat us to them, and part because we gobbled whatever they left for us. At the time, we didn't realize what a beautifully ornamental woodland ground cover they made. Now we know better and plant these among other shade plants for the vivid foliage color as well as bird-attracting fruit. A native to the Pacific Northwest as well as eastern coastal states, the huckleberry's small, leathery leaves are tinged with copper and bronze hues before maturing to shiny dark green. Small, white flowers open in the spring and succulent, blue-black berries ripen in late summer and make delicious jam. Plant in informal groups or shear to create a dense, formal hedge. Vaccinium ovatum
Flower FormUrn shaped 1/3" borne in loose axillary clusters
Foliage TypeGlossy, dark blue-green simple elliptical 1-2" long and half as wide
Soil RequirementAcid, humus enriched soil
Unique CharactersticsGreat Plant Picks: Vaccinium ovatum is one of the most versatile and underused native plants of the Pacific Northwest. It provides a regional feel to our gardens and helps define the Northwest landscape. Typically thought of as a woodland plant, it performs equally well in full sun. In spring its small, leathery leaves have tones of copper and bronze, and they mature to shiny dark green. Small, urn-shaped white flowers hang under the foliage in spring, transforming to succulent blue-black berries by late summer. These make delicious jam or jelly. The small leaves of this shrub create a fine texture, but its slightly irregular growth habit keeps it interesting. It contrasts well with plants with larger leaves, such as rhododendrons. Use evergreen huckleberry in informal groupings or as a natural low screen. Surprisingly it will also shear into a dense formal hedge.
Growth RateSlow once established, which takes approximately 8 - 10 weeks