Species at Risk
What is Deerberry?
Seedlings planted as part of the deerberry reintroduction program at Thousand Islands National Park.
© Parks Canada
Deerberry is a low slender shrub belonging to the heath family. It is one of twelve species in the genus Vaccinium which also includes blueberries, bilberries and cranberries. Deerberry is an upright, spreading shrub that rarely grows over a meter tall. Pendant white flower clusters appear in the early summer on long slender stalks. The pistils of the flowers are straight and extend beyond the stamens. Berries appear in late summer and tend to be green to blue in color.
Where is Deerberry found?
Deerberry is usually considered to be unpalatable, although certain shrubs can yield delicious fruit. In the southern Appalachians, deerberry is used for pies, jams and jellies.
Deerberry is located within two regions in Ontario. Existing and historical populations are found in the Niagara and the Thousand Islands areas, where temperatures are milder due to the moderating effect of the great lakes. Three of the populations are protected by Thousand Islands National Park and the Niagara Parks Commission. The Thousand Islands population is found only on islands in the St. Lawrence River, while the population found in the Niagara area is in a semi-developed area. Both these populations are disjunct, along with a small population in Ithaca, New York. The next known closest population of deerberry occurs in Albany, New York.
The preferred habitat for deerberry is dry open woodlands with sandy, well-drained soil.