A Short History

Blueberry, like cranberry, raspberry and kiwi fruit, is one of those “Cinderella” fruits that have soared in popularity in recent years. It is among the last of the major fruit crops to be domesticated – only after the 1920s did blueberry plants start to appear in North American gardens.

In the early part of the 20th century, blueberries were still harvested from the wild or from selections made from the wild. The introduction of three cultivars in the 1920s became the basis for an entirely new horticultural industry – fruits that flourished in acid soils, previously considered relatively useless for producing any crop. The cultivars were first-generation hybrids from selections of the wild northeastern North American highbush species, Vaccinium corymbosum. Newer cultivars usually have other Vaccinium species in their lineage, including the northeastern North American lowbush blueberry, V. angustifolium and maybe the southeastern United States rabbit-eye blueberry, V. ashei.