Vaccinium angustifolium is a low shrub to 60 cm tall, extensively clonal by stolons; roots associated with highly specialized ascomycota ericoid mycorrhizae, (Allen1991; Berliner and Torrey 1989); densely branched; twigs green or reddish, crooked, young bark smooth, older bark gray-brown fibrous; winter buds reddish, elliptic, tip pointed, ca 3 mm, leaf scars very small, hardly visible.
Leaves alternate, narrowly elliptic, to 3 cm long 1.5 cm wide with small bristle-tipped teeth, narrower, darker and more yellow-green than those of V. pallidum.
Flowers white, urn-shaped, to 0.6 cm; blooms May-June.
Fruit blue, fleshy, with waxy-white bloom to 1 cm, crowned by old calyx lobes, July-Aug.; edible; 4-5 tiny seeds; seed load <1%; pulp nutrients: water 88%, lipid 1%, protein 3%, CHO 75% (White 1989). Fruit eaten by many birds and mammals, including bears, raccoons, coyotes, foxes, skunks and opossum (Wilson 1993).
Wetland status: FACU-.
Frequency in NYC: Infrequent.
Habitat: Understories of open, dry, oak forests, usually in acidic, sandy or rocky, nutrient-poor soil. Soil pH 4.7-7.5 (USDA, NRCS 2010). Tolerant of shade (light), drought, salt. Intolerant of soil compaction, flooding (Hightshoe 1988).
Notes: Apparently less shade tolerant than V. pallidum (personal observation). Twigs eaten by deer and rabbits (Martin et al. 1951). Susceptible to blueberry witches’-broom rust, Pucciniastrum goeppertianum (Basidiomycotina, Uredinales), that causes swollen, spongy, reddish-brown branches and stunted leaves. The fungus becomes perennial in rhizomes of lowbush blueberries (Agrios 1988; Sinclair et al. 1987).