CPC Plant Profile: Dwarf Huckleberry
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Plant Profile

Dwarf Huckleberry (Gaylussacia orocola)

Photo Credit: Michael Kunz, NCBG
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Ericaceae
  • State: NC
  • Nature Serve ID: 796950
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 10/28/2019

Gaylussacia orocola is a deciduous shrub endemic to the southwest mountains of North Carolina.  It is distinguised from other species of Gaylussacia, which it co-occurs with, by later flowering time, mucronate leaf tips, and stipitate glandular hairs found on the leaves, caylx and fruits.   

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Michael Kunz
  • 10/30/2019

This summer, the North Carolina Botanical Garden made the first ever collection of the globally imperiled Gaylussacia orocola (Blue Ridge huckleberry).  The species is of high conservation concern due to habitat rarity and only 30% of known sites remaining extant.  Further, G. orocola is not known to occur in any ex situ collections increasing the priority to take conservation actions.  To make this collection, we visited 2 of the 3 known extant sites.  One population was very small and did not flower this year.  The other population occurs in a mountain bog, which has benefited from recent management actions, including a prescribed fire.  Working with botanists with the NC Plant Conservation Program in the summer of 2019 we identified many flowering individuals.
Birds and animals frequently eat the ripening fruits of huckleberries.  So in June, NCBG intern Morgan Holder and NCBG Conservation Ecologist Mike Kunz visited the site to bag developing fruits to discourage frugivory and help ensure successful collection.  We bagged branches with green fruits from 57 individuals throughout the bog.  In July, we returned to remove the bags and collect the mature fruits.  We took the fruits to NCBG to extract the seeds.
In total, we successfully collected 2136 seeds from 45 maternal lines.  One-half of the collection will be stored at the National Laboratory of Genetic Resource Preservation and the other half will remain in the NCBG seedbank.  NCBG will test a portion of the seeds for viability before storage. 

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Taxon Gaylussacia orocola
Authority (Small) Camp
Family Ericaceae
CPC Number 47365
ITIS 513854
Common Names
Associated Scientific Names Gaylussacia orocola | Lasiococcus orocola
Distribution Historically known from about 10 sites in a few counties of southwest NC, G. orocola is currently known from only 3 extant sites in two counties.
State Rank
State State Rank
North Carolina S1

Gaylussacia orocola occupies mountain bogs and seepages, usually over granite.  The mountain bogs it inhabits are an extremely rare community and habitat type in themselves. 

Ecological Relationships

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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