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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hoverter and Sholl Box Huckleberry Natural Area is a 10-acre (4.0 ha) natural area in Perry County, Pennsylvania, near New Bloomfield, which protects a colony of box huckleberry over 1,000 years old.[1][2] The smallest Natural Area in Pennsylvania[3], it is administered as part of Tuscarora State Forest.[2] It was declared a National Natural Landmark in April 1967.



A 0.25-mile (0.40 km) path forms a loop around the site, which is located on the west side of a hill slope.[3] Twenty-seven interpretive stations are located along the trail.[1] In addition to the low growth of the box huckleberry itself, the hillside is covered with white pine and oak forest, with a scattering of other trees and various wildflowers.[3]


The specimen of box huckleberry at the natural area has been estimated, based on its observed rate of growth and clonal reproduction, to be 1,200[4] to 1,300 years old[1], only a tenth of the estimated age for a nearby colony at Losh Run.[5] The colony was discovered by Spencer Baird in 1845.[6] No specimens of box huckleberry had been collected since 1805, and Baird's discovery allowed Asa Gray to classify the species as Gaylussacia brachycera.[7] The resulting correspondence sparked a lifelong friendship between the two, and helped Baird attain a post at the Smithsonian Institution.[4]

The box huckleberry remained largely obscure until 1918, when Frederick V. Coville examined the site. On the basis of his observations there, he concluded that box huckleberry was self-sterile and spread clonally. After commercial nurserymen removed a truckload of plants from the site, Coville called attention to its plight with an article in Science.[4] Renewed interest sparked the discovery of other box huckleberry colonies elsewhere in the Appalachians.[8]

The New Bloomfield site was first protected with the donation of 4 acres (1.6 ha) to the state in 1929, the beginning of the Natural Area.[3]


  1. ^ a b c Crable, Ad (1999-08-20). "Meet The World's Oldest--and Hardest Working--Plant". Lancaster New Era. Retrieved 2008-06-22.  
  2. ^ a b "Tuscarora State Forest Natural Areas". Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Retrieved 2008-08-13.  
  3. ^ a b c d Fergus, Charles; Rusty Rae. Natural Pennsylvania: Exploring the State Forest Natural Areas. p. 48. Retrieved 2008-06-22.  
  4. ^ a b c Coville, Frederick V. (1919-07-11). "The Threatened Extinction of the Box Huckleberry, Gaylussacia brachycera". Science 50 (1280): 30–34. doi:10.1126/science.50.1280.30. Retrieved 2008-06-21.  
  5. ^ Wherry, Edgar T. (June 1972). "Box-Huckleberry as the Oldest Living Protoplasm". Castanea 37 (2): 94–95. Retrieved 2008-06-24.  
  6. ^ Smith, Hazel; Don Smith (June 1971). "The Box Huckleberry, Gaylussacia brachycera". Castanea 36 (2): 81–89. Retrieved 2008-06-21.  
  7. ^ Pooler, Margaret; Rob Nicholson, Andrew Vandegrift (2008). "Clonal Fidelity in Large Colonies of Gaylussacia brachycera Gray (Box Huckleberry) Assessed by DNA Fingerprinting". Northeastern Naturalist 15: 67. doi:10.1656/1092-6194(2008)15[67:CFILCO]2.0.CO;2. Retrieved 2008-06-21.  
  8. ^ Wherry, Edgar T. (February 1934). "The box huckleberry as an illustration of the need for fieldwork". Bulletin of the Torrey Botanical Club 61 (2): 81–84. doi:10.2307/2480787. Retrieved 2008-06-21.  

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Coordinates: 40°24′22″N 77°10′26″W / 40.40611°N 77.17389°W / 40.40611; -77.17389



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