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The “Madeline” Blueberry-The Wild is Brought Back

August 1, 2022

Finding blueberries is pretty easy in Michigan. Where I live in southwestern Michigan there are many farms dedicated to growing them. With one farm exception that uses massive irrigation on sandy soil with lots of mulch, they are grown in wetlands or were wetlands prior to their farming. As the image above of my family farm highlights, most blueberries are likely found in this type of environment in highly acidic soil. There are quite a few blueberry plants around this pond. Before the pond, people use to brave this area and walk through the swamps to find the delicious berries amidst the horse flies and dense brush. There were few older trees as a large fire in the early 1900’s wiped out all the mature trees. That left the blueberries.  But it is not the only place blueberries are found. One such plant grew on the farm not far from this image that was always a mystery to me. It never fruited yet provided a sort of groundcover stoloniferous plant that was constantly getting nailed by the mowers near a roadway. It was growing in pure sand way above the water table. It turned out be a natural selection of groundcover blueberry possibly hybridized with the more normal shrub type blueberries you would normally find in a wetland.   As time went on, I dug up a stolon and planted it at my farm on a hillside just for fun. Apparently the plant liked its new location and what was once a rather shy or non-bearing plant became incredibly prolific. The tiny dark blueberries were delicious hiding underneath the foliage. This was the wild blueberry flavor I remembered when I use to pick my own at my family’s farm.  I named this variety ‘Madeline’ after my grand daughter. Her vigorous and happy go lucky attitude is contagious. Such is this blueberry.  This blueberry sets it apart from other blueberries in that it is a selection that can grow in non-wetland conditions and produce lots of fruit rich in flavor and antioxidants without the need for irrigation and spray. This dryland blueberry is vigorous on my sandy hillside and a joy to behold in full fruit.  What a wonderful treat to enjoy in early July long before the commercial berries are ripe and available.  I include seeds of this variety as a means to create other dryland selections that can grow in dry soil conditions or minimal irrigation yet remain vigorous in poor low organic soils.

“Madeline” is a small growing compact plant to 4-5 ft.  with dense foliage and branching making seedlings from it similar to the parent. There is no other blueberry at my farm so the seeds are self pollinated.  I include a rooted stolon along with the seeds so you can create clones from its self rooting tendencies or root it like traditional blueberries.  It is self pollinating as well and highly prolific. The small fruits are delicious and is slow picking to make a quart. But then do you really need to time yourself when you do something you love? I think not. Madeline Blueberry Seeds and Stolons

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