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There are several different types of huckleberry plants, found within the genera Gaylussacia and Vaccinium, but all share certain characteristics. Huckleberries, which are shrubs, have dense branches and small, pointed leaves. The leaves are deep, shiny green, and when the bushes are in bloom, they produce small pink flowers. The bushes also grow tiny dark blueberries. These berries are edible, and taste much like a blueberry, although some varieties are considered to be more tart than a blueberry. The berries can be eaten straight from the shrub or used in baking or to make preserves.
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They thrive in either sun or shade, but grow taller and tend to require less water when planted in shady areas. However, when grown in the darkness, huckleberries also produce less fruit. Taller varieties, such as the mountain huckleberry (Vaccinium membranaceum) can grow up to 15 feet tall when mature, with a six-foot spread, and are excellent as loose hedges or to break a garden into sections. Smaller varieties, such as the grouseberry (Vaccinium scoparium) or the dwarf huckleberry (Vaccinium caespitosum), may only grow to between six inches and one foot in height. This limited height, paired with their dense foliage, makes them excellent for use as a ground cover. Huckleberry shrubs prefer moist, acidic soil with a pH of between 4 and 5.5. They do well in planting zones 1 through 9, with specific zones varying from species to species, and are naturally found in the northwestern regions of the United States, and into Canada. Huckleberries mature slowly, taking between two and three years to bear fruit. However, once established, Huckleberry is exceptionally hardy and require limited care.