Description: Enormous portions of Pine-Oak uplands have understories dominated by Black Huckleberry. According to Gray’s Manual of Botany, the curious scientific name of the genus is derived from Louis Joseph Gay-Lussac (1778-1850) a French chemist. The specific epithet “baccata” simply means “berry-bearing.” These berries are quite delicious when fully ripe, and in earlier times were of economic importance, as Stone testifies (using the term “huckleberry” in the colloquial sense—for both blueberries and huckleberries proper):
[+ ZOOM] Black huckleberry © Kevin Sparkman
Large quantities of huckleberries are gathered and shipped out of southern New Jersey every year. Vaccinium corymbosum yields the best berry, but it is not so plentiful as the lower species, and growing in the swamps is harder to get at. The bulk of the crop consists of V. vaccillans, Gaylussacia baccata and G. frondosa. The somewhat hispid berries of G. dumosa—"Grouseberry" as it is locally called—do not seem to be marketable, while Vaccinium pennsylvanicum, such an abundant fruit bearer in the mountains, does not seem to develop full-sized fruit in this region, at least not in the lower part. Gaylussacia baccata is probably the most abundant species, and is popularly known as "Hog huckleberry."
Flower: Early May to July.
Habitat: Dry or moist.