Monday, January 20, 2014

New Cranberry Species Recognized in BC

 Bog cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccus), photo by David Blevins

Each year, the British Columbia Conservation Data Centre, through the work of a BC flora committee, updates the list of vascular plants recognized in the province.  There are several updates for 2013, from nomenclatural changes to species additions and deletions (BCCDC 2013 update).  One interesting addition for the province is a newly recognized species of cranberry, Vaccinium microcarpum. This change means that there are three cranberry species now recognized in the province. They are:  Vaccinium microcarpum, Vaccinium macrocarpon, and Vaccinium oxycoccos.

The recognition of Vaccinium microcarpum in BC follows from a taxonomic split, and renaming, of Oxycoccus oxycoccos into 2 species: V. oxycoccos (southern BC) and V. microcarpum (northern BC).   UBC Botanist Jamie Fenneman, who is working on the BC flora update project, says: "The former Oxycoccus oxycoccos was moved to the genus Vaccinium, then split into a northern diploid (V. microcarpum) and a tetraploid that occurs in southern BC (V. oxycoccos). There are a number of morphological features that distinguish these forms. ....The two forms meet along a line through central BC, from about the Skeena River south and east to Wells Gray. North of this line is microcarpum, south is oxycoccos. But of course there is an overlap zone, so it might be more difficult to ID confidently [the species] around that line."

View the atlas page for Vaccinium microcarpum here.
View the atlas page for Vaccinium macrocarpon here.
View the atlas page for Vaccinium oxycoccos here.

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