Written by Jake Ingram
Dovetailing with Jim Draper’s Feast of Flowers exhibit, The Museum is featuring a few groupings of North Florida Native Plants in various locations around the museum. Each week we will look at one of these plants in more detail.
The Dwarf Blueberries do indeed produce edible blueberries, appreciated equally by us Homo sapiens and the many avian species, especially the Mockingbird, that share the natural bounty of our ecosystem. These are not the cultivated or hybridized blueberries that target the grocery store markets. They are indeed dwarfs that have grown naturally among the Pine Flatwoods and Scrub of our region for millennia. Their intrinsic beauty can be found in their fine-textured, evergreen foliage that emerges pink, transitions to a glaucous blue-green thence to light green. The flowers are an inconspicuous pink or white, typical of their other blueberry cousins; little lantern-shaped globes that open up hanging downward at the first sign of spring weather. Their branching structure is unpredictable at best. They seem to grow sort of sideways, their branches often askew, not willing to make that perfect round mound of a plant we all seem to crave in our controlled landscapes. But the plant’s reward to us is their multi-colored foliage yielding a magnificent range of pink-blue-green colors that is present throughout the year. These are plants to be ‘naturalized’ in a garden; not to be lined up in a stiff row. Their personalities are unique; weird little critters who prefer to be left to their own devices but are doubly generous with their rewards.