Official State Fruit of New Jersey
New Jersey designated highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) as the official state fruit on January 12, 2004 after fourth-graders at Veteran’s Memorial Elementary School in Brick campaigned to make the blueberry the official fruit symbol of New Jersey. All State Foods
The Blueberry was First Cultivated in Whitesbog, NJ
The blueberry is a native North American fruit, but it was not until the early 1900s that it was first successfully cultivated in the United States. This was the work of Elizabeth Coleman White, a cranberry farmer from New Jersey, and Frederick Vernon Coville, a botanist with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
White had been interested in cultivating blueberries since the late 1890s. She had observed that wild blueberry bushes produced larger and sweeter berries in certain areas. She began to collect seeds from these bushes and plant them on her family's cranberry farm.
In 1908, White met Coville, who was also interested in developing cultivated blueberry varieties. Coville began working with White to select and breed blueberry plants with desirable traits. They also experimented with different growing methods.
In 1916, White and Coville harvested their first crop of cultivated blueberries in Whitesbog, NJ. The berries were sold under the name Tru-Blu-Berries and were a commercial success.
White and Coville's work paved the way for the modern blueberry industry. Today, the United States is the world's leading producer of blueberries.
Highbush Blueberries vs Lowbush Blueberries
Size and growth habit
Highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum) are tall shrubs, typically growing 6-12 feet tall. They have a crown-forming habit, with multiple stems and branches. Lowbush blueberries (Vaccinium angustifolium) are much shorter, growing only 6-24 inches tall. They have a more sprawling habit, with multiple stems that grow close to the ground.
Highbush blueberries produce large, light-colored berries in abundance. Lowbush blueberries produce smaller, darker berries, but they are often more flavorful than highbush blueberries. Highbush blueberries are self-fertile, meaning they can produce fruit without another plant nearby. Lowbush blueberries require cross-pollination from another blueberry plant in order to produce fruit.
Climate and Soil Requirements
Highbush blueberries are native to most of the eastern US. They are hardier than lowbush blueberries and can be grown in a wider range of climates. Lowbush blueberries are native toto Canada and the far northern US and require a period of winter dormancy. Both highbush and lowbush blueberries require acidic soil with good drainage.
Both highbush and lowbush blueberries require well-drained, acidic soil. They also need full sun to partial shade. Highbush blueberries need more space than lowbush blueberries, so they are best suited for larger gardens. Lowbush blueberries can be grown in smaller spaces, such as raised beds or containers.
Both highbush and lowbush blueberries are delicious fresh, frozen, or cooked. They can be used in a variety of dishes, such as pies, muffins, pancakes, smoothies, and yogurt parfaits. Lowbush blueberries are often used in commercial blueberry products, such as jams, jellies, and juices.
New Jersey Legislation
WHEREAS, The highbush blueberry is indigenous to New Jersey, where it was first cultivated for commercial production, due to pioneering work by New Jerseyan Elizabeth White and Dr. Frederick Covile, who in the early 1900's dedicated themselves to the study, domestication, and breeding of blueberries at Whitesbog, in Browns Mills, New Jersey; and
WHEREAS, the cultivation of highbush blueberries in New Jersey served as the basis for an entirely new agricultural industry; and
WHEREAS, Blueberries taste good, are good for you, are high in fiber, vitamin C, and antioxidants, are sodium and cholesterol-free, are low in calories and provide medical and health benefits, including the prevention of cancer and heart disease; and
WHEREAS, Blueberries are appreciated around the world, especially in the area of nutrition and the emerging field of nutraceuticals, where blueberries are known for their health benefits and medicinal properties; and
WHEREAS, New Jersey ranks second in the nation in blueberry cultivation, producing 21% of the nation's total, with 38 million pounds grown annually on 8,000 acres, spanning seven counties in central and southern New Jersey; and
WHEREAS, New Jersey is widely recognized as the blueberry capital of the nation, and the highbush blueberry, also known as the "New Jersey blueberry," is the ideal symbol of a delicious, nutritious, and healthful fruit ...
Be it Enacted ... the highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) is designated as the New Jersey State Fruit.