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Ok so my property is in the US/NH and I've slowly clear back some land and brought back a bunch of wild high bush blueberries to health. There is one bush which is still pretty shaded that I don't think is a blueberry any longer. While it looks like the leaves and bark are the same as a blueberry it just has brown "seeds"/fruits. These look white as seen below in an earlier stage.

So my questions are:

  1. Is this a blueberry bush?
  2. If not what is it?
  3. If it is, is it diseased or unhealthy or a genetic accident? Should I cut it down or will it come back?

stem leaves berries white stage berries

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    Possibly a huckleberry (vernacular) if the fruit is black and similar to a blueberry otherwise (most think they don't taste as good, and I agree) - either one would prefer less shade, IME. If it's just shriveled-up brown things that have no juice, probably either diseased, or gave up due to poor water supply and is cutting its losses for this year. Or it's something else I'm not familiar with.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jul 15 at 15:43

2 Answers 2

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+50

No it is not a blueberry bush (Vaccinium corymbosum) which typical has smaller leaves and not completely black berries. (I miss an indication of the size of the leaves, but they look like more than 2 inches long)

Based on the location (New Hamshire) I have three suggestions:

Vaccinium fuscatum aka black highbush blueberry

Vaccinium fuscatum is an upright deciduous shrub. It can be distinguished from the similar-looking Vaccinium corymbosum by its stems and abaxial leaf surfaces are pubescent with dingy hairs, and its dark colored fruit that lacks a glaucous coating. In addition it has an earlier bloom time, producing flowers in early spring. It is sometimes considered a synonym of Vaccinium corymbosum.

Gaylussacia frondosa aka dangleberry and blue huckleberry

This shrub grows up to two meters (80 inches) tall. The plant spreads via rhizome, sprouting up new stems to form colonies. The leaves are up to 6 centimeters (2.4 inches) long by 3 cm (1.2 inches) wide. They are hairy and glandular. The inflorescence contains 1 to 4 flowers that hang on pedicels up to 2 centimeters (0.8 inch) long. The flower is bell-shaped and greenish white. The fruit is a juicy, sweet-tasting drupe which is usually blue but may be black or white.

Gaylussacia baccata aka black huckleberry

Gaylussacia baccata closely resembles the native blueberry plants (Vaccinium species) with which it grows in the same habitats. However, it can be readily identified by the numerous resin dots on the undersides of the leaves which glitter when held up to the light. Gaylussacia baccata is a shrub up to 150 cm (5 feet) tall, forming extensive colonies. Flowers are in dangling groups of 3–7, orange or red, bell-shaped. Berries are dark blue, almost black, rarely white.

(Emphasis mine to help identification)

I think the photos show mainly old bushes. Just remove any old looking or unhealthy bushes.

Edit:

The suggestions are based on the assumption that

  • The bush is native to New Hamshire (US)
  • It is a highbush rather than a lowbush

They was chosen because the flowers definitely indicates the Ericaceae family, and the berries indicates the Vaccinium genus or a closely related genus. I have several different Vaccinium corymbosum bushes in my garden and based on that experience I feel very sure, that it is not this species - but certainly they do resemble each other.

Illness:

It is not unusual to find ill-looking areas on older parts of bushes. You should only be concerned if younger parts (including new leaves, flowers and berries on old stems) seems to be affected. At the photos the berries look healthy. Diseases usually cause ill-looking spots on the berries and/or they will drop off. A recent problem is mainly seen at the west coast and the photos shows clearly orange spots.

I do not think any other listed diseases fit the situation.

Genetic variations:

They exist and I have a pink one

How to investigate the bush in question further:

  • Measure the size of a large berry, a large leaf and the height.
  • Cut one berry in half vertically and another one horizontally and take photos. (V. corymbosum berries are almost white inside)
  • Photos showing both sides of dry leaves. (It is easier to cut them off and attach them to a sheet of paper)

If you carefully compares flowers, berries and leaves to a bush you think is V. corymbosum, I think you quickly get an indication of any differences.

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  • Thanks for the response but I don't think any of these fit. A few notes I should had made in the original post. So the brown "berries" are completely dry and brittle. But they look nothing like dried blueberries I sometimes see on my other bushes. Also probably good to note there are a few white flowering form of these brown "berries" on the bush and its July right now. Ofcourse the blueberries flowered mouths ago. Still the vast majority of the plant has the brown "berries/seeds". This is why I was wondering if its possible its a disease Jul 19 at 10:34
  • I gave you the bounty since it expires today but I'm going to leave the question open for now as none of these stand out as definitive. I'll go take some more measurements and observations based on the text you posted though thanks! Jul 19 at 10:36
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After taking some more images and resorting to google image search I found out this is in fact a Maleberry shrub (Lyonia ligustrina). Very similar to the blueberry but different. Thanks for everyone who took time helping.

berries bush

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