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Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Please keep in mind that it is illegal to uproot a plant without the landowner's consent and care should be taken at all times not to damage wild plants. Wild plants should never be picked for pleasure and some plants are protected by law.
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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Ericaceae (Heath)
Evergreen shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
150 centimetres long
Moorland, mountains.

White, 5 petals
White tinged pink, bell-shaped, up to 8mm.
Red berries.
Evergreen. Leathery and dark green, paler underneath. Oval and untoothed.
Other Names:
Algonquian, Bear's Bilberry, Bear's Grape, Bear's Weed, Bear's Whortleberry, Brawling, Burren Myrtle, Chipmunk's Apple, Chokerberry, Creashak, Crowberry, Devil's Tobacco, Foxberry, Hog Cranberry, Indian Tobacco, Kinnickinnick, Kinnikinnick, Larb, Manzanita, Mealberry, Mealy-plum Vine, Mountain Box, Mountain Cranberry, Mountain Laurel, Pinemat Manzanita, Rapper Dandies, Redberry, Rockberry, Sagachomi, Sandberry, Universe Vine, Upland Cranberry, Uva Ursi, Uvursy, Whortleberry, Wild Cranberry.
Frequency (UK):
Occasionally seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, also known as bearberry or kinnikinnick, is a species of flowering plant that is native to North America, Europe, and Asia. It is a member of the heath family and is known for its small, white or pink flowers and red berries. Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is a low-growing, evergreen shrub that can reach heights of up to 30 centimeters (12 inches) and has a dense, spreading growth habit. The leaves are oblong in shape and are a glossy, dark green color. The plant produces small, white or pink flowers that are followed by small, red berries. Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is found in a variety of habitats, including forests, meadows, and along streams and rivers. It is a popular garden plant and is known for its medicinal properties, with the plant being used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments.


Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) is a shrub that is native to the northern hemisphere, including North America, Europe, and Asia. It is also known as kinnikinnick, which is a term used by indigenous peoples to describe the plant. Bearberry is a versatile and hardy plant that is commonly used for its medicinal properties and ornamental value.

Medicinal Properties: Bearberry has been used for centuries as a natural remedy for various ailments. The leaves of the plant contain arbutin, which has antimicrobial properties, making it useful in treating urinary tract infections. Bearberry has also been used to treat bladder and kidney problems, as well as to improve skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.

Ornamental Value: Bearberry is a popular ornamental plant due to its attractive foliage and delicate pink or white flowers. The leaves are small and oval-shaped, and they turn a brilliant red or orange in the fall, adding interest to gardens and landscaping. The plant is also drought-tolerant, making it an ideal choice for xeriscaping, which is a type of gardening that uses low-water plants.

Wildlife Benefits: Bearberry provides food and habitat for wildlife, including birds, small mammals, and insects. The plant produces small, red berries that are a favourite food of birds such as the redpoll and the waxwing. The plant's dense, evergreen foliage provides cover and protection for wildlife.

Cultivation: Bearberry is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow in well-drained soils. It prefers full sun to partial shade, and is tolerant of dry, rocky soils. The plant is slow-growing and can be propagated by cuttings or division. Bearberry can be used as a groundcover, a low-growing hedge, or as an accent plant.

Additional Uses: Bearberry is also used in cosmetics and skin care products due to its antibacterial and skin-soothing properties. Extracts from the plant are commonly found in products such as soaps, creams, and lotions. Bearberry is also used in traditional medicine systems, such as Ayurveda, for its anti-inflammatory and diuretic effects.

In horticulture, Bearberry is commonly used as a groundcover due to its ability to spread slowly and densely over time. The plant's low growth habit makes it ideal for planting in rock gardens, slopes, and other difficult-to-grow areas.

Bearberry is also a valuable plant for reforestation and land restoration efforts, as it is well adapted to a range of soil types and can thrive in areas that have been damaged by human activity or natural disasters. The plant provides soil stability, helps to reduce erosion, and provides food and habitat for wildlife.

Conservation: In some areas, Bearberry populations have been impacted by overharvesting for medicinal and ornamental uses. It is important to harvest Bearberry sustainably and to plant it in protected areas to ensure its continued survival. Bearberry is listed as a species of special concern in some states in the United States, and it is protected in other countries.

Traditional Uses: Bearberry has a long history of traditional use by indigenous peoples in North America, Europe, and Asia. In North America, indigenous peoples used Bearberry leaves to make a tea that was believed to have medicinal properties. The plant was also used in traditional smoking blends, and the leaves were used to stuff pillows and mattresses for their sweet aroma.

In Europe, Bearberry was used in traditional medicine to treat a variety of ailments, including kidney and bladder problems, skin conditions, and respiratory infections. The plant was also used to make a dye for textiles and baskets.

In Asia, Bearberry was used in traditional medicine to treat skin conditions and urinary tract infections. The plant was also used in traditional blends for incense and fragrance.

Cultural Significance: Bearberry is an important plant in many indigenous cultures, and it holds great cultural significance. In some cultures, Bearberry is considered a sacred plant, and its use is restricted to traditional medicine practitioners and elders. In others, the plant is a symbol of resilience and perseverance, and it is revered for its ability to thrive in difficult conditions.

In conclusion, Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi) is a plant with a rich history of traditional use and cultural significance. Its medicinal properties and ornamental value make it a valuable addition to any garden or landscape, while its cultural significance and importance to indigenous cultures make it a valuable part of our shared cultural heritage. By harvesting and planting Bearberry sustainably, we can ensure its continued survival and its importance for future generations.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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