Cranberry/Partridgeberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea)

Cranberry/Partridgeberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea)Also known as: lingonberry, partridgeberry


Bloom time: May – July

Additional photos:

General: This species of cranberry is a low evergreen shrub that forms mats.

Leaves & Twigs:

  • The simple, oval-shaped, leathery leaves have a dark green, shiny upper surface with a paler green under surface dotted with dark glands.
  • This plant resembles bearberry, but its leaves have a notched tip which is not present on bearberry leaves. (See bearberry description for more tips on their differences)

Flowers & Fruits:

  • The tiny pink or white flowers (about 4-8 mm long) resemble drooping bells, and appear in small clusters at the tips of branches.
  • The fruit is bright to dark red, ripening in August or September.

Habitat: Cranberry prefers open, acidic, boggy places, including muskeg, rocky barrens and moist to dry coniferous woods.

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 are open in the observed plants (3 places).
  • Mid bloom: when 50% of the flowers are open in the observed plants.

Distribution Map:

Distribution Map

This species is monitored in:

  • Alberta
  • Manitoba
  • Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nunavut
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon

Some Aboriginal Peoples used cranberry juice to dye the porcupine quills often found in their beadwork; the berries, too, were used as beads.