Deerberry

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A long-lived perennial, the Deerberry, Vaccinium stamineum, frequents hammocks, flatwoods and sand hills in all of Florida’s counties except for the southern portion of the State. A shrub with twisted reddish-brown trunks that ranges between 3 and 6 feet high and sometimes 12 feet high. Dark green waxy-like leaves with an elliptic shape grow closely to one another in an alternate order on the branches. Deerberry is deciduous which means that come winter all its leaves will turn red and fall to the ground.

Deerberry’s flowers occur at the junction of the leaf stem (a petiole) and the branch. This junction is called a leaf axil. The stalk of a single showy flower dangles downward from the leaf axil. This is a flower inflorescence called a raceme. When in bloom, the Deerberry has clusters of tiny greenish-white cup like flowers. Five fused petals make up the corolla with five erect reddish yellow stamens all of similar length. At the stamens tips are tubular pollen bearing anthers. A lengthy female style projects well past the column of stamens. The flower is less that ¼ inch in diameter. Overall, the flower looks sometime like an old time shaving brush. Fruit is a small red berry that is edible.

The specimen in the picture was found in the Hickey Creek Mitigation Preserve during   a recent Native Plant Society field trip.

 

Dorothy Rodwell