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Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, with names for this species including Kinnikinnick and Pinemat manzanita, one of several related species referred to as Bearberry. It is a species of Arctostaphylos – manzanita.

Distribution

The Arctostaphylos uva-ursi distribution is circumpolar, widespread in northern latitudes, confined to high altitudes further south:

  • in Europe, from Iceland and North Cape, Norway south to southern Spain (Sierra Nevada), central Italy (Apennines) and northern Greece (Pindus mountains);
  • in Asia from arctic Siberia south to Turkey, the Caucasus and the Himalaya;
  • in North America from arctic Alaska, Canada and Greenland south to California, north coast, central High Sierra Nevada (above Convict Lake, Mono County, California), Central Coast, California, San Francisco Bay Area, to New Mexico in the Rocky Mountains; and the Appalachian Mountains in the northeast United States.

In some areas the plant is endangered or has been extirpated from its native range. In other areas it is abundant. They are a common plant in Jack pine areas.

Description

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is a small procumbent woody groundcover shrub 5-30 cm high. The leaves are evergreen, remaining green for 1–3 years before falling. The fruit is a red berry.

The leaves are shiny, small, and feel thick and stiff. They are alternately arranged on the stems. Undersides of leaves are lighter green than on the tops. New stems can be red if the plant is in full sun, but are green in shadier areas. Older growth stems are brown. In spring, they have white or pink flowers.

Subspecies

There are four subspecies:

  • Arctostaphylos uva-ursi subsp. uva-ursi. Common Bearberry; circumpolar arctic and subarctic, and in mountains further south.
  • Arctostaphylos uva-ursi subsp. adenotricha. Central high Sierra Nevada.
  • Arctostaphylos uva-ursi subsp. coactilis. North coastal California, central coast California, San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Arctostaphylos uva-ursi subsp. cratericola (J. D. Smith) P. V. Wells. Guatemala Bearberry, endemic to Guatemala at very high altitudes (3000-4000 m).

Uses

Medicinal

Bearberry has historically been used for medicinal purposes. It contains the glycoside arbutin, which has antimicrobial properties and acts as a mild diuretic.[citation needed] It has been used for urinary tract complaints, including cystitis and urolithiasis.[citation needed] An infusion may be made by soaking the leaves in ethanol and then diluting with water.

Cultivation

There are several cultivars that are propagated for use as ornamental plants. It is an attractive evergreen plant in gardens, and it is also useful for controlling erosion.

Written on June 13th, 2012 , Fruits Tags:

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