Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Massachusetts’
Bearberry is a hardy low-growing evergreen shrub that does not exceed 6" (15 cm) in height. “Uva-ursi” means “bear’s grape”: bearberry is favored by bears and many birds. This species is a cultivar of Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (L.) Spreng.
Identification: These plants’ dark green shiny leaves and red, hard berries about ¼" (6.3 mm) in diameter resemble cranberries, but they are not related to them. Bearberry leaves look a little like a shoehorn, wider at one end than at the other, while cranberry leaves are about the same size at both ends and mountain cranberry has sharper tips. Flowers are white, tinged with pink.
Edibility: I couldn’t find toxicity information, but at least one site recommended against eating these berries.
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Massachusetts’ at the Missouri Botanical Garden
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi at Botanical.com
1For a discussion of medical uses, see this Botanical.com article
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Massachusetts’ description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.
Range: Zones 2-6: