White bell shaped flowers brings springtime beauty upward toward the blue sky.

Sparkleberry, Vaccinium arboretum, is a spreading shrub or a small tree with a curved trunk with a reddish bark to about 15 feet high.  Sometimes it will reach higher heights.  Dark green leaves are alternate on the branches and elliptic to ovate in shape.  Margins are smooth or sometimes slightly toothed. Sparkelberry is deciduous which means comes the fall cold, the leaves will turn red and fall off the tree.

Small bell shaped flowers dangle downwards from dense clusters.  Flowers’ corolla (bloom) has five white fused petals that form an upside down tunnel.  Sex organs are not usually visible. Fruit is a shiny, dark blackberry that is not edible.  When in bloom in April and May, Sparkleberry is covered with hundreds of these tiny white flowers.

The specimen in the picture was found during a recent Native Plant Society site visit to Lee County’s Hickey Creek Mitigation Preserve.  Several blooming Sprarkleberries were growing on a ridge alongside Hickey Creek.

Sparkleberry is one of five species in of the genus Vaccinium.  One of the species is Deerberry, V. stamineum,  that I wrote about a few weeks ago.


Dorothy Rodwell