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Newfoundland west to Manitoba, south to VA, Ontario, and northern IL and to NC and TN in mountains.
Trailing, evergreen shrub. Stems slender. Leaves leathery, nearly sessile, elliptic-oblong, less than 1 cm, obtuse, margin flat or somewhat revolute. Flowers epigynous, in clusters of 2-6 from axils of reduced lower leaves; pedicels 1-3 cm bearing a pair of green, leaf-like bracteoles above the middle; corolla tubular, white to pink, deeply 4-lobed, the lobes reflexed; styles 5-7 mm. Fruit a bright red, more or less glacuous, acidic berry to 1.5 cm wide.
Flowers mid June to early August
Wetland indicator: Obligate
"Cranberry" is a concatenation of the name "Crane Berry", so called because the flower resembles the head of a crane. Cultivated cranberries are selections of this species with larger fruit.
Vaccinium oxycoccus L. (small cranberry) is similar but has reddish bracteoles at or below the middle of the pedicel and leaves that are sometimes more strongly revolute; it has a circumboreal distribution and occurs as far south as NJ, PA, Ontario, northern IN, and MN.
Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of
Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second Ed.
The New York Botanical Garden. Bronx, NY
Swink, F. and G. Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region.
Indiana Academy of Science. The Morton Arboretum. Lisle, Illinois.
Michael Hough © 2005