Gaylussacia brachycera

Common Names:
box huckleberry
(Michx.) Gray
Growth Habit:
Subshrub, Shrub
CPC Number:
Profile Contributors:
Irina Kadis
Fully Sponsored

Reference Links

ITIS - Tropicos - USDA Plants - Fish & WildLife

Participating Institutions

The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University

The conservation of Gaylussacia brachycera is fully sponsored.
Irina Kadis contributed to this Plant Profile.


The box huckleberry is a dwarf (1-4 dm) evergreen shrub that forms large, solid-mat, self-sterile colonies, each one appearing to consist of a single clone that may extend over 8 acres! One colony in Perry county Pennsylvania (the Amity-Hall area) is about a mile long. It appears to be a single clone that is over 12,000 years old, and has been labeled as the oldest living thing in the world. As of 1999, about other 100 sites, containing younger plants than the Perry County population, are known from six states in the eastern United States.

Box huckleberry is a rare plant first found by Michaux in West Virginia in 1790, then by Kin and Pursh about 1805 (Coville 1919). In 1921, it was "rediscovered" by A. Gray and this time reported from 75 localities (Gray 1922). The box huckleberry belongs to a rather large genus of the New World embracing over 50 species, most of which occur in mountainous regions of South America. Five are found in the southeastern USA. All Gaylussacia are small shrubs (1-12 dm tall), either evergreen or deciduous, usually with rhizomes (Dirr 1998).

G. brachycera is very different from other Gaylussacia species. In other Gaylussacia, leaves are deciduous, mostly entire, glandular, either on both surfaces or just beneath (which makes a difference from Vaccinium); stems not angled (Dirr 1998). In G. brachycera, leaves are evergreen, coriaceous, not resinous-glandular; stems are sharply angled (3-sided), bearing a conspicuous ridge below the base of each leaf.

Distribution & Occurrence


Conservation, Ecology & Research