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Common Shrub Species of the Northwest Forest

TREES

HERBS

GRAMINOIDS

FERNS & FERN-ALLIES

BROPHYTES & LICHENS

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Terminology | Pictorial

   
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Bearberry
Ericaceae (Heath Family)

Description

General - Trailing, evergreen shrub, 7.5 - 10 cm tall; often forms mats with 50 - 100 cm long flexible rooting branches; bark brownish red to dark grey, peeling.

Bearberry Leaves - Leathery, oval to spoon-shaped, widest at rounded tip, tapered to base, 1 - 3 cm long, dark green, somewhat shiny above, paler below, smooth-edged.

Flowers - In small, drooping clusters at branch tips; pinkish to white, 4 - 6 mm long, urn-shaped, appear in May to June.

Fruit - Dull red drupes, 6 - 10 mm across, look like miniature apples; edible but mealy, tasteless.

Habitat

Sand and well-drained sites in woodlands and open areas; widespread across NW Ontario region, north to Arctic coast; circumpolar.

Notes

Can easily be confused with the Lingonberry but close inspection will reveal the Lingonberry has dark, bristly glands (blackish dots) on leaf undersurfaces while the Bearberry has none. The fruit of the Lingonberry is tart and juicy, while that of the Bearberry is edible but tasteless.

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