New York Natural Heritage Program
Dwarf Blueberry
Vaccinium cespitosum Michaux
Dicots

General Description [-]
Dwarf blueberry is a low shrub (up to about 8 to 12 inches tall) that forms dense patches. Its twigs are ridged and usually minutely hairy with scattered, white, downward-hooked hairs. The shining leaves are about 1/2 to 1 and 1/4 inches long and 1/8 to 1/2 inches wide. The margins have minute, glandular teeth at least in the upper half. The 5-lobed, nodding, white to usually pink flowers, are about 1/8 to 1/4 inches long, lantern-shaped, and solitary in the leaf axils. The fruits are light blue and have a very thin waxy coating (Fernald 1970, Gleason and Cronquist 1991, Vander Kloet and Dickinson 1999)

Best Life Stage for Proper Identification [-]
This species can be identified fairly easily when in flower or fruit, although the flowers are particularly helpful and collections should include them.

Similar Species [-]
Vaccinium cespitosum is a very distinctive taxon in New York.

Vaccinium angustifolium and V. boreale can occur with V. cespitosum. The two former species are distinguished by elliptic leaves with acute apices, the flowers occurring in clusters, the calyx lobes evident and not rounded, the twigs papillose, and the anthers not spurred.

Vaccinium uliginosum also can occur with V. cespitosum. It differs in having flowers with four petals instead of five, more than two scales covering buds, leaves entire, densely hairy below, and blue-green, and flowers solitary or paired, arising from the previous year's branches (Voss 1996, Haines and Vining 1998). It is much more common in the alpine areas.
Dwarf Blueberry Images
click to enlarge
The Best Time to See
This species is in flower from late June through July. Therefore, the best time to survey for this species is during this time frame although it can be seen vegetatively all season.
J F M A M J J A S O N D
Vegetative Flowering Fruiting
The time of year you would expect to find Dwarf Blueberry vegetative (blue shading), flowering (green shading) and fruiting (orange shading) in New York.