Native to dry or moist forests, meadows, and woodlands throughout the eastern half of North America, this deciduous shrub prefers acidic soils and sunlit areas, though it also tolerates shade. It grows in the same habitats as native blueberry species, which it is often mistaken for, though it can be differentiated by the yellow resin dots found on the undersides of its leaves. Though they often form extensively thicketed colonies, germination can be a struggle due to short-lived seeds with low fertility.
White and pink bell-shaped flowers bloom in dangling groups throughout late spring and early summer, occasionally turning deeper shades of red later in the season. Many butterfly species, including the endangered karner blue, feed on the flower nectar and pollinate this densely-branched huckleberry, though bees are its main pollinator. Clusters of dark berries follow successful pollination, attracting numerous bird species and providing a food source for various wildlife. The sweet berries are also edible to humans and can be eaten raw, baked into doughs, or made into jams and jellies.