Common Bearberry

Common Bearberry

Arctostaphylos Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Kingdom: Plantae

Phylum: Angiosperm

Class: Dicot

Order: Ericales

Family: Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Genus: Arctostaphylos

Species: Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Where in the OLL?

  • This plant is found in the Botanical Garden.
  • Hardy shrub that does well as ground cover.
  • Helps stabilize sandy soil, erosion resistant.

Plant growth form

  • Shrub
  • Perennial above-ground woody.
  • Height of 5-12 inches, spread of 3-6 feet.
  • Plant is a woody evergreen.

Flowers, fruits & pollinators

  • Small, single flowers.
  • Light pink or white.
  • The plant flowers in May, and flowers persist until June.
  • Perfect floral arrangement, in terminal clusters.

Ideal location, conditions & cultural needs

  • Tolerates some shade, but prefers full sun.
  • Requires well-draining, coarse, or sandy soil.
  • Will not grow in wetlands or in clay.
  • Prefers more acidic soil.
  • Needs very little maintenance, basic weeding.
  • Annual application of 10-10-10 fertilizer in spring increases growth.

Planning & maintenance

  • Needs roughly 2-6 sq ft growing space.
  • Very slow-growing, trimming usually not necessary.
  • Will tolerate some clipping and trimming, and browsing from wildlife.

Cultivars & propagation

Pests & pathogens

  • Bearberry has relatively few serious diseases.
  • Susceptible to certain diseases and fungi if roots are too damp.
    • Root rot, black mildew, leaf gall, leaf spot and rust.
  • Bearberry does not generally have disease problems if kept dry.
    • Wet bearberry may be moved, but roots do not tolerate disturbance well.

Landscape & ecosystem

  • Adds ground cover, with flowers in the spring and bright red berries in late summer/fall.
  • Pollinated by insects and some birds.
  • Fruit are edible to many types of wildlife.
  • Foliage may be browsed by deer.

Human uses

  • In the past, plant may have been eaten or smoked by Blackfoot and Algonquin Indians.
  • The berries may have been used for food, the dried leaves for pipe mixture.
  • Fruit is said to be non-toxic but generally non-palatable.
  • Due to a lack of current research, eating the berries is not advised.
  • Large or moderate quantities of the leaf may contain toxins that can cause liver damage.
Plant catalogued by
Scroll to top