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Box Huckleberry

The scientific name of the box huckleberry is the Gaylussacia brachycera. The box huckleberry is a low shrub with branches that rise to about one foot from underground, creeping stems, known as rhizomes. Its glossy, leathery leaves lack the resinous dots of other huckleberries, and it holds its leaves year-round while the others are deciduous. 

Honeybees are attracted to huckleberry flowers and are probably the primary pollinating agents under most conditions. Currently, there is no known pollination problem because the plants usually grow in the wild state, and the potential versus actual production as a result of insect pollination is unknown. 

Studies show that germination rate is very low and seedlings are so weak they are unable to grow. Box Huckleberry populations are thought to be limited to asexual reproduction by spreading rhizomes. The original stem crown splits and fragments into sections. As the segments continue to grow outwardly they produce new branches along their outer edge. The box huckleberry is just one big plant, with separate shrubs all linked together. The plant was promptly declared one of the oldest living things in the world. No one knows for sure how it got here, since it rarely reproduces sexually as most plants do. From a botanical point of view, the box huckleberry is the most famous. Box huckleberry's flowers, white or pinkish, are bell-shaped. Box huckleberry is a long-lived perennial that belongs to the heath family. One bush in Perry County is estimated to be more than 1,300 years old. 
New stems spread from the underground rhizomes at a rate of six inches a year, replacing older, dying branches in a continuous process of vegetative reproduction. Box Huckleberry blooms in May and early June. Box Huckleberry is typically found on north-facing slopes over acidic shale bedrock. Populations are known from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky. It's considered a species of special concern throughout most of this range. Only three populations of Box Huckleberry have been found in Pennsylvania. One large population is well protected in a state forest natural area; another has been damaged by road construction. The third has not been seen since 1930. 

By: Ashley 

Works Cited

1949. Adams J.W. The Unique Box Huckleberry
http://gears.tucson.ars.ag.gov/book/chap7/huckleberry.html

1997. Gaylussacia brachycera.
http://daphne.palomar.edu/iissamples/issamples/oop/qf/waynesearch.htm

1999. Ad Crable. Meet the world's oldest and hardest working plant
http://www.dep.state.pa.us/dep/deputate/polycomm/pressrel/crable/crable082099.htm

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