Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)

Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)Also known as: kinnikinnick
Bloom time: April – June

Additional photos:

General: Trailing evergreen shrub, up to 10 cm tall; often forming mats.

Leaves & Twigs:

  • Leaves have a somewhat shiny upper surface and leathery texture.
  • Oval to spatula-shaped leaves, 1-2 cm long, similar to cranberry leaves, but more flat and dull.

Flowers & Fruits: Tiny pinkish to white flowers shaped like vases or urns occur in small clusters that droop off branch tips.
Note: Flowers are similar to the cranberry’s, but bearberry blossoms have semi-translucent “windows” at their base. Cranberry flowers open wide to expose their stamens and pistils, while bearberry flowers hide theirs. Also, bearberry flowers earlier than cranberry.

Habitat: This circumboreal shrub is found in sandy, well-drained sites in woodlands and open areas.

PlantWatch Pointers: Select a typical patch of plants, if the plants are very abundant, mark off a l-metre-square section to observe.

To Observe:

  • First bloom: when the first flowers open like little pink “lips” at the tip (3 places).
  • Mid bloom: when 50% of the flowers on observed plants are open at the tip.

Distribution Map:

This species is monitored in:

  • Alberta
  • British Culumbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nova Scotia
  • Nunavut
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon

The fruit of the bearberry is a favourite food of bears.