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Arctostaphylos uva-ursi ‘Massachusetts’


KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderEricalesTea, persimmon, blueberry, Brazil nut, azalea, many others
FamilyEricaceaeHeath or heather family
GenusArctostaphylosFrom arkto, “bear,” and staphyle, “grape,” because bears like the berries
Speciesuva-ursiFrom Latin uva, “grape,” and ursi, “bear”—I guess bears really like these berries!
Cultivar‘Massachusetts’“From Massachusetts”

About plant names...

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.[1]

Online References:

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.

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Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (bearberry)

8/1/2009 · Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, Boothbay, Maine
≈ 12 × 8" (30 × 20 cm)

Range: Zones 2-6:

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