Sparkleberry

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Project Description

Sparkleberry

Vaccinium arboretum

 

Range/Geographical Distribution: The southeast United States from Virginia south to Florida, west to Texas, and north to Kansas.

Habitat: Sandhills, scrubs, dunes, coastal hammocks, and oak woodlands. 

Description: A small tree with reddish orange to greenish gray, flaking bark.  Stiff, glossy, green leaves are one half to two inches long and turn reddish-purple in the fall. 

Size: Can reach a height of 20-30 feet and a trunk diameter of 10 inches.

Breeding: Flowers in the spring and produces half inch long, white and bell-shaped flowers. Gritty, non-juicy berries are produced in October and may last through the winter.

Predators/Ecological Importance: A source of food for many birds and small mammals as well as a few larger mammals including bears. Also a larval host plant for butterfly caterpillars.

Conservation Status: No legal status.

Interesting Facts: Sparkleberry is closely related to native blueberries but, unlike blueberries, sparkleberries are inedible to humans.  The bark from this tree has been used in tanning leathers and root extracts were traditionally used to treat diarrhea.  Also known as farkleberry.

On the Coast: Sparkleberry is considered an important food for white-tailed deer in Georgia.

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