Vaccinium Parvifolium - Red Huckleberry

Vaccinium Parvifolium - Red Huckleberry

Image Credit: Walter Siegmund

Common name(s): red huckleberry, red whortleberry

General bloom time: leaves emerge in early spring, flowering from April to June, ripe fruit between August and September

Identification: 4 meter tall deciduous shrub; maintains some leaves year-round; branches are long, skinny, bright green branches

Leaves: alternate, green, oval shaped, usually not toothed, 3 cm leaves

Flowers: pinkish to yellowish-green bell shaped flowers, about 5 mm long that grow in-between the leaf and the branch

Fruit: red, round berries, about 1 cm in diameter; berries are edible but slightly sour

Habitat: grows mainly on the edge of coniferous forests; sun and shade tolerant; soil should be dry to moist and rich in decayed wood; lower to mid elevations

Ecology:Provides berries for birds, supports benficial insects.

Image Credit: Leslie Seaton

Fun Facts:

-       The berries were often used as fish bait since they have the resemblance to the salmon egg in size and color

-       Used as a mouthwash and to stimulate the appetite

-       Some natives believe that the plant was created by Asin, the monster woman of the woods, and that people who eat the berry lose their reason and had to be carried out of the woods

-       Seeds are dispersed by birds, deer, and banana slugs

-       Quickly re-spouts after fires

Places to find in Portland: Forest Park


Tirmenstein, Debra A. 1990. Vaccinium parvifolium. In: Fire Effects Information System [online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). 2008, January 22.

Holm, Freya G. The Natural History of Vaccinium parvifolium Smith, the Red Huckleberry. June 30, 2004. January 18, 2004.

Pojar, J. and Mackinnon, A. 1994. Plants of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Vancouver, B.C.: Lone Pine Publishing.