Vaccinium membranaceum
Common name: 
Big Huckleberry
Mountain Huckleberry
Thinleaf Huckleberry
vak-SIN-ee-um mem-bran-AY-see-um
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Broadleaf, deciduous, rhizonimus shrub, 1-5 ft (0.3-1.5 m) high, densely branched; young twigs yellow-green, somewhat angled, older twigs gray with shreddy bark.  Leaves alternate, simple, elliptical to ovate, 1.5-5 cm long, thin, pointed at tip, margins serrate, rarely entire; pale green on both surfaces, smooth or occasionally pubescent; petiole about 3 mm long.  Flowers small, about 3 mm long, greenish-white to pinkish, globose to urn-shaped, solitary and axillary.  Fruit slightly flattened, to 6-8 mm in diameter, dark purple, red, to black, without bloom, good flavored.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 5      Native range is from Alaska and British Columbia south through the Olympic and Cascade mountains to California and east to Ontario, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Minnesota, populations are also present in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and on the east side of Lake Superior.  In the major part of its range it grows at higher elevations in subalpine and alpine environments.  
  • Historically, burning of Vaccinium membranaceum patches by Native Americans was a regular activity in the subalpine zone of the Cascade and Pacific ranges. To enhance production, fires were set in autumn after berry harvest. Fires reduced invasion of shrubs and trees. Fields of this huckleberry in the Pacific Northwest are considered a product of uncontrolled wildfires occurring before effective fire suppression.  Foliage of Vaccinium membranaceum is of low flammability, allowing for survival after low severity fires.  Hot fires can kill the tops of plants, but such plants can sprout from rhizomes. Fire suppression policies and cessation of burning by Native Americans in the eastern Cascades since roughly 1940 have caused a decline in huckleberry productivity.  There is a reintroduction of fire for forest restoration and enhancement of this culturally valued resources on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in Oregon and national forests where Warm Springs Tribes have treaty-reserved rights. (US Forest Service)
  • Vaccinium membranaceum Douglas ex Torrey: David Douglas (1799-1834) initially described this species but the description did not meet the standards for valid publication. A valid description by John Torrey (1796-1873) was published in 1874. 
  • membranaceum: skin, membrane; parchment.
Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit, early summer

    plant habit, early summer

  • leaves, early summer

    leaves, early summer

  • in habitat

    in habitat

  • leaves


  • leaves and developing fruit

    leaves and developing fruit

  • leaves, underside

    leaves, underside

  • leaves