Skip to main content

Florida 4-H Forest Ecology

Florida 4-H Forest Ecology


Vaccinium arboreum
Family: Ericaceae

Natural History


Sparkleberry grows on sand dunes, hammocks, dry hillsides, meadows, and in rocky woods. It also grows on a variety of moist sites such as wet bottomlands and along creek banks. Sparkleberry is found in most of the eastern United States between Texas and Florida in the south, to Virginia, Indiana, and Kansas in the north.

White-tailed deer, hares, and rabbits feed on the leaves. The fruit is eaten by a wide variety of birds and mammals, including black bears, deer, and chipmunks. The flowers provide food for bees. The wood has been used to make tool handles, smoking pipes, and craft items. The bark has been used for tanning leather.

Sparkleberry is recognizable by its spreading branches, leafy appearance, and small, shiny leaves that are almost as wide as they are long. White flowers appear in spring that are about ¼" wide. Lustrous black berries ripen from late summer to late winter. Although the berries are a favorite wildlife food, they are quite untasteful for humans.

Section Topics