Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry)

Plant Info
Also known as: Kinnikinnick
Family:Ericaceae (Heath)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Habitat:part shade, sun; dry sandy or rocky soil
Bloom season:May - June
Plant height:4 to 8 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: UPL MW: UPL NCNE: UPL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: bell Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Short racemes of soft, nodding white to pink bell-like flowers ¼ inch wide by 3/8 inch long, with the opening smaller than the base, and 5 fringed pink lobes. One plant has several clusters on branching stems.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are ¼ to ½ inch wide, ½ to 1 inch long, leathery, evergreen, round-oval and glossy with smooth edges, tapering at the base to a short stalk. Attachment is alternate but may look opposite when crowded on the stem. Leaves are light green in spring, dark green in summer and turn purple in fall. Stems are to 24 inches long, woody, covered with very short hairs, and sprawling with many branches, forming large dense mats that can be 3 or more feet across.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit] Fruit is a bright red berry (drupe) of roughly the same size as the flowers, containing 5 nutlets.


Bearberry is a low shrub that has many regional common names, including barren (or burren) myrtle, bear's whortleberry, mountain box, and hog crawberry, with the fruit also known as rapper dandies and bear's grape. Common on rocky out croppings, sandy pine barrens, beach ridges and road rights-of-way, the diverse number of common names tells you plant gets noticed where ever it grows.

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More photos

Photos by K. Chayka taken in Crow Wing and Hubbard counties. Photos by Peter M. Dziuk taken at the U of M Cloquet Forestry Center and at the General C.C. Andrews state forest nursery


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Cathy - Farmington
on: 2012-08-28 12:47:13

I planted a Bearberry a few years ago, to try it out, as a replacement for those awful creeping junipers which become so woody. My concern was that trees in my yard have grown up over the years and the plants would get a half day of sun, at best. It seemed to "sit" for a year, but now is spreading nicely. Very healthy and interesting looking plant. I definitely will use it to replace the junipers, when we re-build our garden walls this fall/next spring. Interestingly, I researched this plan some 32 years ago, and wanted to place it on our walls at the time. I had seen it in Leon Snyder's book, Trees and Shrubs for Minnesota. Nurseries just did not carry it then. Oh, how I wish they had!!

Posted by: Robin - Park Point, Duluth
on: 2018-05-27 20:11:56

There is a huge area of these plants on a dune trail near a small forest of white pines, spruces, and reindeer moss- growing on the verge of the forest in what must be mostly shaded sand.Very healthy, very pretty.

Posted by: luciearl - Fairview Twp, Cass County
on: 2020-09-27 16:29:22

Discovered recently on my property. Hoping to see it bloom next year!

Posted by: Tom Gilde - St Paul
on: 2023-08-25 13:41:51

Does anyone know of a nursery in Minnesota that stocks bearberry?

Posted by: K Chayka
on: 2023-08-25 19:37:57

Tom, Minnesota Wildflowers does not track who sells what. Suggest checking with native plant nurseries such as Prairie Resto and Outback.

Posted by: Taylor - Wright County
on: 2024-04-30 12:43:22

Morning Sky Greenery sells Arctostaphylos, Tom.

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