Blueberries, Cranberries

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Vaccinium is a genus of shrubs in the plant Family Ericaceae including the cranberry, blueberry, bilberry or whortleberry, cowberry or lingonberry, and huckleberry. The genus contains about 450 species, which are found mostly in the cooler areas of the Northern Hemisphere, although there are tropical species from as widely separated areas as Madagascar and Hawai'i. The plants prefer heath landscapes, as well as open forests. The name Vaccinium was used for a type of berry (probably the bilberry V. myrtillus) in classical Latin, but its ultimate derivation is obscure; it has nothing to do with vaccinum "of or pertaining to cows", but may be a corruption of Latin bacca, berry (OED).

The fruit develops from an inferior ovary, and is a berry.

Vaccinium species are used as food plants by the larvae of a number of Lepidoptera species - see list of Lepidoptera which feed on Vaccinium.

The taxonomy is complex, and still under investigation; there are two subgenera, and several sections:

Subgenus Oxycoccus
The cranberries, with slender, trailing, wiry non-woody shoots and strongly reflexed flower petals. Some botanists treat Oxycoccus as a distinct genus.
Subgenus Vaccinium
All the other species, with thicker, upright woody shoots and bell-shaped flowers.

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