Et Cetera: Budding Blueberries

Jeff Amberg

Blueberries are part of early spring in the Midlands of South Carolina as the bushes blossom in the beautiful promise of delicious fruit to come. Few people know that it was not until the 20th century that scientists discovered a way to cultivate this otherwise wild fruit bush.

A mature, healthy blueberry bush will have thousands of flower buds each year, with up to 16 separate flowers blossoming from each bud. Each flower is a potential berry and must be pollenated for the seeds within the flower to grow into a berry. Near the end of the blossom phase, the berry begins where the blossom ends. The fruit literally is the beginning of the process, waiting at the end of the stamen.

In this photograph, almost every stage of the process is visible — from the blossom’s beginning to the actual development of the fruit. We often take these small and miraculous events for granted. Take a minute with a magnifying glass outside early in the morning this spring and have a closer look at nature’s amazing work.

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