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Edible uses


Fruit - raw or cooked[1][2][3][4][5][6]. Quite pleasant to eat[7]. An acid flavour, they are used like cranberries in preserves and are considered by many people to be superior to cranberries[8]. The taste is better after a frost[9][10][11]. Occasionally the plants bear 2 crops in a year[12]. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter[13]. A tea is made from the leaves[14][8]. This should not be drunk on a regular basis because it contains the toxin 'arbutin'[4].


Unknown part


Material uses

A yellow dye is obtained from the leaves and stems[11].

A purple dye is obtained from the fruit[15].

Can be grown as a ground cover plant[16], spreading by underground runners[17]. It needs weeding for the first year or so[18]. Plants are best spaced about 30cm apart each way[19].

Unknown part


Medicinal uses(Warning!)

The leaves are antiseptic, astringent, diuretic, refrigerant[7][5]. They are used in the treatment of gonorrhoea[20], arthritis, rheumatism, diabetes and diarrhoea[4]. The leaves are gathered in early summer and dried for later use[7]. The mature fruits are eaten fresh or dried as a remedy for diarrhoea[4] and as a treatment for sore throats, coughs and colds[6]. The juice has been gargled as a treatment for sore throats[6].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Soil surface

Ecological Functions

Ground cover


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - sow late winter in a greenhouse in a lime-free potting mix and only just cover the seed[21]. Stored seed might require a period of up to 3 months cold stratification[22]. Another report says that it is best to sow the seed in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe[13]. Once they are about 5cm tall, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 8cm with a heel, August in a frame[21]. Slow and difficult. Layering in late summer or early autumn[21]. Another report says that spring is the best time to layer[13]. Takes 18 months[21].

Division of suckers in spring or early autumn[22].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Vaccinium vitis-idaea. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Requires a moist but freely-draining lime free soil, preferring one that is rich in peat or a light loamy soil with added leaf-mould[16][13]. Prefers a very acid soil with a pH in the range of 4.5 to 6, plants soon become chlorotic when lime is present. Succeeds in full sun or light shade though it fruits better in a sunny position[13]. Requires shelter from strong winds[13].

Dislikes root disturbance, plants are best grown in pots until being planted out in their permanent positions[13]. Sometimes cultivated for its edible fruit, there are some named varieties[8]. 'Koralle' has large and conspicuous berries[23]. The fruit hangs on the plant all winter if it is not picked[8]. The flowers produce a great deal of nectar and are very attractive to bees[7].

Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[13].


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Vaccinium vitis-idaea. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Vaccinium vitis-idaea.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Vaccinium vitis-idaea
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
light shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type

    "image:Cowberry.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Cowberry.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Cowberry.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

    "image:Cowberry.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Cowberry.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

    "image:Cowberry.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

    "image:Cowberry.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

    "image:Cowberry.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Cowberry.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Cowberry.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Cowberry.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Cowberry.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Cowberry.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.


    1. ? 1.01.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
    2. ? 2.02.1 Simmons. A. E. Growing Unusual Fruit. David and Charles ISBN 0-7153-5531-7 (1972-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.1 Mabey. R. Food for Free. Collins ISBN 0-00-219060-5 (1974-00-00)
    4. ? Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
    5. ? Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
    6. ? Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
    7. ? Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
    8. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    9. ? 9.09.1 Elias. T. and Dykeman. P. A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants. Van Nostrand Reinhold ISBN 0442222009 (1982-00-00)
    10. ? 10.010.1 Johnson. C. P. The Useful Plants of Great Britain. ()
    11. ? Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest. ()
    12. ? 12.012.1 Triska. Dr. Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-33545-3 (1975-00-00)
    13. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.1 Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books ISBN 3874292169 (1984-00-00)
    15. ? 15.015.1 Coffey. T. The History and Folklore of North American Wild Flowers. Facts on File. ISBN 0-8160-2624-6 (1993-00-00)
    16. ? Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
    17. ? 17.017.1 Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-86318-386-7 (1990-00-00)
    18. ? 18.018.1 Royal Horticultural Society. Ground Cover Plants. Cassells. ISBN 0-304-31089-1 (1989-00-00)
    19. ? 19.019.1 Thomas. G. S. Plants for Ground Cover J. M. Dent & Sons ISBN 0-460-12609-1 (1990-00-00)
    20. ? 20.020.1 Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S. Medicinal Plants of China Reference Publications, Inc. ISBN 0-917256-20-4 (1985-00-00)
    21. ? Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co (1948-00-00)
    22. ? 22.022.1 Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation. Athens Ga. Varsity Press ISBN 0942375009 (1987-00-00)
    23. ? Thomas. G. S. Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos. Murray ISBN 0-7195-5043-2 (1992-00-00)
    24. ? Clapham, Tootin and Warburg. Flora of the British Isles. Cambridge University Press (1962-00-00)

    "image:Cowberry.jpg|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

    Facts about "Vaccinium vitis-idaea"RDF feed
    Article is incompleteYes +
    Article requires citationsNo +
    Article requires cleanupYes +
    Belongs to familyEricaceae +
    Belongs to genusVaccinium +
    Functions asGround cover +
    Has binomial nameVaccinium vitis-idaea +
    Has common nameCowberry +
    Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
    Has edible partFruit + and Unknown part +
    Has edible useUnknown use + and Tea +
    Has fertility typeSelf fertile +, Bees + and Self +
    Has flowers of typeHermaphrodite +
    Has hardiness zone5 +
    Has imageCowberry.jpg +
    Has lifecycle typePerennial +
    Has material partUnknown part +
    Has material useDye +
    Has mature height0.25 +
    Has mature width1 +
    Has medicinal partUnknown part +
    Has medicinal useAntiseptic +, Astringent +, Diuretic +, Refrigerant + and VD +
    Has primary imageCowberry.jpg +
    Has search namevaccinium vitis-idaea + and cowberry +
    Has shade toleranceLight shade +
    Has soil ph preferenceVery acid + and Acid +
    Has soil texture preferenceSandy + and Loamy +
    Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
    Has sun preferenceFull sun +
    Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
    Has taxonomy nameVaccinium vitis-idaea +
    Has water requirementsmoderate +
    Inhabits ecosystem nicheSoil surface +
    Is deciduous or evergreenEvergreen +
    Is herbaceous or woodyWoody +
    Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
    PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF edible use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF material use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF toxicity notes migratedYes +
    Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
    Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
    Has subobjectThis property is a special property in this wiki.Vaccinium vitis-idaea +, Vaccinium vitis-idaea +, Vaccinium vitis-idaea +, Vaccinium vitis-idaea +, Vaccinium vitis-idaea +, Vaccinium vitis-idaea +, Vaccinium vitis-idaea + and Vaccinium vitis-idaea +