The blueberry, (Vaccinium corymbosum,) which was first cultivated in Whitesbog, became the official state fruit in 2004. In 2003, fourth graders at Veteran's Memorial Elementary School in Brick campaigned to make the blueberry the official state fruit. The students had their idea introduced as legislation and conducted a lobbying campaign to see its passage, including media interviews, a letter and petition drive, presentations to local governing bodies, and a trip to the state's blueberry festival in Whitesbog. In addition, the classes traveled to Trenton to make presentations before Senate and Assembly Committees. Elizabeth Coleman White developed the nation's first cultivated blueberry.
were first cultivated in the Garden State in 1916, by Elizabeth White, whose father owned a cranberry plantation. The Garden State now grows 22 percent
of the nation's blueberries, a ranking that puts in second among all berry-producing states.
Some 42 million pounds of blueberries were harvested in New Jersey in
2002, which were worth nearly $47 million. Michigan produces the most of the cultivated variety while Maine is the largest producer of the wild variety.
This highbush blueberry cultivar is an upright, deciduous shrub which typically grows 5-8' tall (less frequently taller), but is arguably more manageable as a fruit crop when pruned to 6' or less. Dainty, waxy, bell-shaped, white flowers appear in May. Flowers are followed by medium blue blueberries (to 1/2" diameter) which ripen in early season (early July in USDA Zone 5). Ovate, dark green leaves (to 3.5" long) turn attractive shades of red in fall. Reddish stems can be attractive in winter.
Common Name: include blue huckleberry, tall huckleberry, swamp huckleberry, high blueberry, and swamp blueberry.
Plant Type: Fruit
Native Range: None
Height: 6 to 8 feet
Spread: 6 to 8 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Color: White
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium to wet
Governor McGreevey Makes the Blueberry NJ's Official Fruit
(Jan 12 2004 Official Press Release)
NJ Office of the Governer - Press Releases ^ | January 12, 2004 | Office of James E. McGreevey
Posted on Monday, August 16, 2004 11:13:39 PM by Begin
BRICK)- Governor James E. McGreevey signed legislation into law today that will make the Vaccinium corymbosum, more commonly known as the blueberry, New Jersey's official state fruit.
The Governor signed the legislation at Veterans Memorial Elementary School in Brick, where fifth graders (then fourth-graders) were actively involved in the legislative process.
"New Jersey has a strong history as the Garden State,"said McGreevey. "Naming the blueberry as our official state fruit is a fitting tribute to our culture and heritage, especially because it was first cultivated here in Whitesbog.
"If it weren't for the commitment and civic involvement of the students at Veterans Memorial, New Jersey would still be without a state fruit. I want to thank them and their teachers for proving that when you believe in something, you can make a difference through government. You're making history today."
Last year, as fourth graders in Mrs. Gail Damiano's and Mrs. Suzanne Kurasz's classes, the students learned that New Jersey lacked an official state fruit. Upon researching and debating different fruits, they ultimately decided on the blueberry. The students had their idea introduced as legislation and conducted a lobbying campaign to see its passage, including media interviews, a letter and petition drive, presentations to local governing bodies and a trip to the State's blueberry festival in Whitesbog. In addition, the classes traveled to Trenton to make presentations before Senate and Assembly Committees.
The blueberry was first cultivated in the Garden State in Whitesbog by Elizabeth C. White, whose father, J.J. White owned a cranberry plantation. Wild blueberries grew in their cranberry bogs, but it was generally accepted that it was not possible to cultivate blueberries. In 1911, she read about Dr. Frederick V. Coville's work in blueberry cultivation, and began working with him to cultivate blueberries for sale. In 1916, their first blueberry was produced.
"With New Jersey being the birthplace of the cultivated blueberry, it is very fitting that the blueberry be named the official state fruit," said Agriculture Secretary Charles M. Kuperus. "I am pleased that these students from Veterans Memorial recognized the importance of the blueberry to the proud agricultural heritage of the Garden State and worked so diligently to secure this honor."
New Jersey produces 22 percent of the nation's blueberries, ranking second in production among all berry-producing states. A total of 42 million pounds of blueberries were harvested in New Jersey in 2002, generating cash receipts of $46.8 million. Blueberries are grown on 8,000 acres in seven counties spanning central and southern New Jersey. Blueberries are typically in season from mid-June to late August.
The legislation, Assembly Bill 3344, was sponsored by Senator Andrew Ciesla, and Assemblymen David Wolfe and James Holzapfel.
Senator Ciesla said, "I couldn't be happier for our young students. They learned a great lesson in government, they found out they could make a difference, and they created history. Their parents and teachers rightly deserve to be very proud of these future leaders."
Assemblyman Wolfe said, "New Jersey is widely known as the blueberry capital of the nation, so the students had a great idea in proposing that it be named our official state fruit."
The blueberry now joins a host of other official state symbols: the violet (flower), Eastern Goldfinch (bird), red oak (tree), honey bee (insect), horse (animal), square dance (dance), Hadrosaurus Foulkii (dinosaur), knobbed whelk (shell), brook trout (fish) and the A. J. Meerwald (tall ship).
The law designating the highbush blueberry as the official New Jersey state fruit is found in the New Jersey Permanent Statutes, Title 52, Section 52:9A-9.
TITLE 52 STATE GOVERNMENT, DEPARTMENTS AND OFFICERS
52:9A-9 Highbush blueberry designated State fruit.
1. The highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) is designated as the New Jersey State Fruit.
Taxonomic Hierarchy: Highbush Blueberry
Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
Family: Ericaceae - Heath family
Genus: Vaccinium L. - blueberry
Species: Vaccinium corymbosum L. - highbush blueberry