Blueberries, known botanically as Vaccinium cyanococcus, are fruit-bearing shrubs or small trees. While it is a large, varied genus, just three key species of blueberry are commercially cultivated for eating; up to 100 cultivars and hybrids are attributable to the three species.
Blueberries thrive in a range of climates--from sub-tropical to temperate--and cool, forested regions in lightweight, nutrient-rich, acidic soils. All species produce white to cream flowers in spring and varying hues of purple, black and blue fruit in the summer.
Northern & Southern Highbush Blueberry
Northern and Southern Highbush blueberry, known botanically as Vaccinium corymbosum, are tall shrubs that can reach 12 feet in height at maturity. They are deciduous with small surfboard-shaped leaves up to 2 inches in length. The canes produce fruit for up to 4 years. The berries are blackish-blue in hue and are ripe for harvest 45 to 75 days after flowering.
Rabbiteye blueberry, known botanically as Vaccinium ashei Reade, are deciduous shrubs that can grow up to 20 feet in height at maturity under ideal conditions. The foliage is nearly identical to Highbush varieties, but the canes of Rabbiteye produce fruit for up to 7 years. The bluish-black berries are ripe for harvest 90 days after flowering.
Lowbush blueberry, known botanically as Vaccinium angustifolium, are smaller, low-spreading shrubs that reach a maximum of 2 feet in height at maturity. Rhizomes reproduce and spread the plant vegetatively under the surface of the soil. The foliage are just 1/2 inch in length with tiny toothed edges. The fruit are bluish-black to bright blue in hue and are ripe for harvest 70 to 90 days after flowering.