Highbush blueberry grows best and most commonly in moist or wet peat of moderate to high acidity – in and around marshes, swamps, and lakes, often with extended flooding, as well as on floodplains, sheltered slopes, and ravines. It also occurs in drier areas – dunes and barrier beaches, rocky hillsides, oak woods, and pine woods. It occurs as a dominant or co-dominant on Appalachian "heath balds." All of these are more or less open sites, and because of its shade intolerance, highbush blueberry can be eliminated as shading increases with overstory cover. Flowering (February-)March-June, sporadically in the southern portion of its range; fruiting (April-)May-October, about 62 days after flowering.
Highbush blueberry is not rhizomatous . Little quantitative information has been written about its sprouting ability; what has been reported appears contradictory .
Vander Kloet  described highbush blueberry as crown forming shrubs from a single bole that occasionally sucker "when disturbed or burnt." Describing V. ashei [V. corymbosum] Camp  stated that the species occurs where protected from fire and that "the ease by which various of its forms are killed by fire may explain their apparent scarcity today in certain areas where they might be expected." These authors indicate that highbush blueberry is not a vigorous sprouter following fire. However, a study by LeBlanc and Leopold  in a central New York shrubby swamp thicket indicates that highbush blueberry is a good sprouter following disturbance. Two years after stems were cut at ground level, highbush blueberry sprouts averaged 6.9 inches (17.4 cm) in height. LeBlanc and Leopold concluded that this population of highbush blueberry was being maintained through sprout recruitment. Thus, at least at this central New York site, highbush blueberry is a vigorous sprouter following disturbance.
Fire may create shade-free environments favorable for highbush blueberry growth. It seems probable that highbush blueberry seeds would be dispersed onto burned sites in animal droppings.
Highbush blueberry is a crown-forming deciduous shrub with two to five stems arising from a single bole. It typically grows from 6.5 to 10 feet (2-3 m) in height. The fruit is a sweet, juicy, blue-black berry about 0.3 to 0.4 inch (7 to 10 mm) in diameter, containing several small seeds (nutlet) about 0.05 inch (1.2 mm) long [24,26].
Because of its shade-intolerance, highbush blueberry is restricted to open swamps and bogs, lakeshores and streamsides, open woods, and high-elevation balds. Such habitats represent intermediate stages of succession. Highbush blueberry can be eliminated from sites as overstory cover and shading increase. In shrub bogs in northern Illinois, highbush blueberry was largely replaced by the shading and competitive effects of glossy-leaved buckthorn (Rhamnus framgula) .
Fire can be an important factor in creating shade-free environments for highbush blueberry. A shrub-carr in New York codominated by mountain holly and highbush blueberry was created by a severe swamp fire in 1892 which consumed over 3 feet (1 m) of peat. Although this shrub community represents an intermediate stage of succession between wet meadow and forested wetland, it is relatively stable. Size and age structure of the two dominant shrubs in 1986 showed an inverse j-shaped distribution indicative of self-maintaining populations; the dense shrub community is only slowly progressing to black spruce (Picea mariana) and tamarack (Larix laricina) .
Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin):
These plant materials are readily available from commercial sources. Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”
Isotype for Vaccinium constablaei A. Gray Catalog Number: US 1365352 Collection: Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Department of Botany Verification Degree: Original publication and alleged type specimen examined Preparation: Pressed specimen Collector(s): A. Gray & J. Carey Year Collected: 1841 Locality: Roan Mountain., North Carolina, United States, North America
Isotype: Gray, A. 1842. Amer. J. Sci. Arts ser. 2. 42: 42.
Highbush blueberry primarily reproduces from seed. Bees are the primary pollinator. It typically produces abundant fruit annually. In Florida, 5-foot-tall (1.5 m) shrubs annually produc an average of 231,000 ovules, of which about 11 percent (25,410) develop into seeds . Mature, commercially grown 8- to 10-year-old plants often yield 8 to 10 pints of fruit per year .
Highbush blueberry seeds are dispersed in the droppings of frugivorous birds and mammals. Long-distance dispersal is rare because most animals which consume highbush blueberries are territorial. Even when fruit ripening coincides with migration of songbirds, dispersal distances are short because berry pulp rarely stays in the gut of cropless birds for more than 20 minutes . In the southern portion of its range, highbush blueberry fruits are dispersed sporadically from late March through June. These seeds have thick seed coats and require cold stratification before germination can occur . Germination typically occurs in the winter following spring dispersal. In contrast, plants of northern latitudes have thinner seed coats and germinate in the autumn shortly after dispersal [27,29].
In Florida, highbush blueberry averaged 16 seeds per berry, of which 57 percent germinated when placed in an illuminated misting chamber . Germination percent is reduced at least 15 percent after passing through the digestive system of a bird or mammal .
Vegetative regeneration: Highbush blueberry rarely produces rhizomes except in a few isolated populations in the Florida panhandle, on isolated mountain peaks in North Carolina and Tennessee, and in eastern Quebec where it introgresses with low sweet blueberry . Layering has been observed only in populations in Ontario and Quebec . When "disturbed or burnt" the plant occasionally produces new plants from root sprouts 3 to 6 feet (1-2 m) away from the parent .