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Close-up image showing water dripping from the delicate white flowers of evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum). One of the 100+ species of Pacific Northwest native plants available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants, Native Plant Nursery in Portland, Oregon.
Clusters of sweet, mature black berries engulf the branch tips of evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum). One of the 100+ species of Pacific Northwest native plants available at Sparrowhawk Native Plants, Native Plant Nursery in Portland, Oregon.
Vaccinium ovatum, Evergreen Huckleberry, Pacific Northwest Native Plants, Oregon Native Plant, Sparrowhawk Native Plants

Evergreen Huckleberry

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Vaccinium ovatum

Evergreen huckleberry is a medium-sized evergreen shrub that is ornamental, versatile and low-maintenance in NW native gardens. During the growing season, its new growth emerges in attractive hues of reds and bronze then shifts to glossy deep green as it ages. These year-round leaves are complimented by clusters of urn-shaped white and pink flowers that appear to be decadently dripping from the branch tips and attract hummingbirds and insect pollinators. Flowers mature into edible fruits that sweeten with the first light freeze and are delicious in pies, jams or straight into your mouth.   

  • Plant type/canopy layer: evergreen perennial med to large shrub
  • Size at maturity: 4-8' tall, 3-6' wide
  • Light requirements: full sun to full shade
  • Moisture requirements: moist soil, prefers well-drained
  • Bloom time: March - July (April - July in the Portland Metro area)
  • Growth rate/ease: slow growth rate, easy to grow
  • Wildlife support: flowers attract and provide nectar to hummingbirds, adult butterflies, bees and other insect pollinators; overall plant is a caterpillar host plant and larval food source; berries are eaten by many songbirds and mammals including chipmunks and black bears; foliage is a browsing food source for deer, elk, rabbits, and grouse and provides shelter for birds and small mammals
  • Native habitat/range: locally common growing along the edges of beaches and along the edges and in openings of second growth conifer forests, at low elevations from the west side of the Cascade Mountains to the coast, from British Columbia in the north to CA in the south. Portland Plant List - yes. 
  • Special features & uses: wildlife and hummingbird favorite; edible, berries are a valuable traditional food for many indigenous people in the Pacific Northwest fresh or dried into cakes; foliage is used in the floral industry; medicinal; landscape uses include pollinator gardens, woodland gardens, erosion control, hedgerows and screens

Gardening with Evergreen Huckleberry: This shrub is popular in naturescapes because it's versatile, attractive, highly-functional and a wildlife favorite. It can thrive in nearly all light conditions, but in the Willamette Valley, it tends to prefer more shade, while on the coast it handles full sun with ease. Its form will vary depending on the light conditions provided; growing more dense in full shade and looser with more sun. Soils should be moist, well-drained and acidic soils. That said, it does tolerate summer drought impressively well, once established. It is slow-growing, but the payoff is worth the wait, especially in wildlife-friendly hedgerows and privacy screens. 

Photo Credit 1: Tara Lemezis

Photo Credit 2: "J20160107-0069—Vaccinium ovatum—RPBG-1" by John Rusk is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Photo Credit 3: "Vaccinium ovatum" by checkermallow is licensed under CC PDM 1.0