Species At Risk


(Vaccinium stamineum)


Deerberry occurrences map



Deerberry is an upright, spreading, deciduous shrub that belongs to the Heath family, and is closely related to blueberries and cranberries. It rarely reaches more than one metre in height. The leaves of Deerberry are alternate, oval, dark green on top and a whitish colour underneath, with no teeth. The young twigs are quite hairy but lose their hair and develop peeling bark with age.

In early summer, Deerberry produces clusters of hanging white flowers. The fruit is a greenish-blue berry that contains a few soft seeds and ripens by August.


Deerberry ranges from New York State, Ohio, and Missouri south to Florida and eastern Texas. In Canada, it only occurs in two areas in Ontario – the Niagara region and the Thousand Islands region. There are six extant populations of Deerberry in Ontario, five of them in the Thousand Islands region.


In Canada, Deerberry is found in habitats where the climate is moderated by their proximity to large bodies of water such as the Niagara and St. Lawrence rivers and to Lake Ontario. Within Ontario, Deerberry is found predominately in dry open woods on sandy and well-drained soils growing under oaks, Pitch Pine or White Pine.


The primary threats to Deerberry in Canada are not clearly understood but may include fire suppression, lack of genetic diversity, and habitat loss and degradation. Recreational activity may be a threat in that a number of the Deerberry populations are located near trails, leaving the species susceptible to trampling.


Deerberry is protected under Ontario’s Endangered Species Act and the federal Species at Risk Act.

What You Can Do to Help Deerberry

  • The Ministry of Natural Resources tracks species at risk such as Deerberry. You can use a handy online form to report your sightings to the Natural Heritage Information Centre. Photographs with specific locations or mapping coordinates are always helpful. nhic.mnr.gov.on.ca
  • Report any illegal activity related to plants and wildlife to 1-877-TIPS-MNR (847-7667).
  • Pollinators, such as bees, are in steep decline across the globe and they play a key role in the survival of many of Ontario’s rare plants. For information on how you can help scientists monitor pollinator populations in Ontario visit: www.seeds.ca/proj/poll.
  • Consider becoming a member of the Friends of Niagara Parks – Niagara Glen Group, a group of volunteers who work with Niagara Parks’ staff and other partner organizations to undertake stewardship initiatives to benefit wildlife, including species at risk in the Niagara Glen. www.niagaraparksnature.com/friends-of-niagara-glen.html.
  • Volunteer with your local nature club or provincial park to participate in surveys or stewardship work focused on species at risk.
  • Private land owners have a very important role to play in species recovery. If you find Deerberry on your property, you may be eligible for stewardship programs that support the protection and recovery of species at risk and their habitats.

Did you know?

Deerberry is pollinated by insects and can spread by seed dispersal by birds and other animals, or by underground rhizomes that can form colonies covering several square metres.

Did you know?

In the United States, Deerberry often occurs in habitats that are dependent on fire to persist, and it is believed that fire may play a role in seed germination. In Canada, Deerberry plants do produce seed but there is no evidence of seedling establishment.

Did you know?

Efforts are being made at St. Lawrence Islands National Park to re-introduce Deerberry to other areas of the park where the habitat is suitable, in order to increase the overall numbers of the species. Related research is being carried out in partnership with universities.

Did you know?

The scientific name for Deerberry – stamineum – comes from the Latin word for ‘stamen that stick out’, and the flowers of this species have a stamen that extends well beyond the petals.

The Endangered Species Act

Contact your local ministry office

Often the best source of local information on species at risk is your nearest ministry office. Call with your questions or concerns.