Open-pollinated southern highbush (V. corymbosum L. hybrids) and F1 (southern highbush × V. simulatum Small) hybrid blueberry seedlings were compared for fertility in a high-density nursery in Gainesville, Fla. Most of the pollen sources in the field were tetraploid southern highbush seedlings. Berries were collected from 100 southern highbush seedlings and from 100 seedlings from southern highbush × V. simulatum crosses. The seeds were extracted and dried on a laboratory bench for several days before weighing. No significant differences were found in seed mass/berry between the two types of seedlings. Although the F1 interspecific hybrids averaged slightly lower in seed mass per berry, this was due to the smaller size of their well-developed seeds, not to poor seed development. The estimated number of well-developed seeds per berry was 35.4 and 39.1 for southern highbush blueberries and their F1 hybrids with V. simulatum, respectively. These results indicate that reduced fertility should not be a problem in using V. simulatum to breed southern highbush blueberries.
Several morphological features of Vaccinium ashei Reade, V. constablaei A. Gray, their F1 hybrids, V. simulatum Small, and southern highbush blueberry (V. corymbosum L. hybrids) flowers were compared in Gainesville, Fla. Desirable characteristics that could increase the extent of honeybee pollination, such as a large corolla aperture and a short anther-to-stigma distance, were common in V. constablaei but not in V. ashei. F1 (V. ashei × V. constablaei) hybrids were generally intermediate between the two parents. Thus, it appears that V. constablaei could be used to breed V. ashei cultivars with improved flower morphology. Vaccinium simulatum and V. constablaei flowers were similar in all features. The corollas of southern highbush blueberry flowers were wide and had wide apertures, but the distance between stigma and anther pore was also large.