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Toxic parts

This plant is best not used by pregnant women since it can reduce the supply of blood to the foetus[1].

Edible uses


Fruit - raw or cooked[2][3][4][5][6][7]. Insipid, dry and mealy[8][9][10], it becomes sweeter when cooked[11]. Added to stews etc, it is a good source of carbohydrates[9]. The fruit can also be used to make a cooling drink or used for preserves etc[6][10]. It can be dried and stored for later use[7]. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter[12]. A tea is made from the dried leaves[13][10].


Unknown part


Material uses

A yellowish-brown dye is obtained from the leaves[14][9], it does not require a mordant[15].

A grey-brown dye is obtained from the fruit[7]. The dried fruits are used in rattles and as beads on necklaces etc[16][7]. The leaves are a good source of tannin[17][18][11]. The mashed berries can be rubbed on the insides of coiled cedar root baskets in order to waterproof them[7].

A good ground-cover for steep sandy banks in a sunny position[19][12] or in light shade[20]. A carpeting plant, growing fairly fast and carpeting as it spreads[21]. It is valuable for checking soil erosion on watersheds[11]. This is also a pioneer plant in the wild, often being the first plant to colonize burnt-over areas, especially on poor soils[22].

Unknown part

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Bearberry was commonly used by many native North American Indian tribes to treat a wide range of complaints and has also been used in conventional herbal medicine for hundreds of years, it is one of the best natural urinary antiseptics[23]. The leaves contain hydroquinones and are strongly antibacterial, especially against certain organisms associated with urinary infections[24]. The plant should be used with caution, however, because hydroquinones are also toxic[25].

The leaves are antiseptic, astringent, diuretic, lithontripic, hypnotic and tonic[3][26][27][28][29][1][30]. The dried leaves are used in the treatment of a variety of complaints[8]. These leaves should be harvested in early autumn, only green leaves being selected, and then dried in gentle heat[8]. A tea made from the dried leaves is much used for kidney and bladder complaints and inflammations of the urinary tract such as acute and chronic cystitis and urethritis, but it should be used with caution and preferably only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[8][27][17][1][25][23]. The tea is more effective if the urine is alkaline, thus it is best used in combination with a vegetable-based diet[23]. Externally, a poultice of the infused leaves with oil has been used as a salve to treat rashes, skin sores etc, and as a wash for a baby's head[7]. An infusion of the leaves has been used as an eyewash, a mouthwash for cankers and sore gums and as a poultice for back pains, rheumatism, burns etc[7]. The dried leaves have been used for smoking as an alternative to tobacco[24]. One report says that it is unclear whether this was for medicinal purposes or for the intoxicated state it could produce[30], whilst another says that the leaves were smoked to treat headaches and also as a narcotic[7].

The herb should not be prescribed to children, pregnant women or patients with kidney disease[24]. Another report says that some native North American Indian tribes used an infusion of the stems, combined with blueberry stems (Vaccinium spp) to prevent miscarriage without causing harm to the baby, and to speed a woman's recovery after the birth[7].


Ecosystem niche/layer

Soil surface

Ecological Functions

Ground cover


Earth stabiliser


Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


Seed - best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe. Pre-soak dried seed in boiling water for 10 - 20 seconds or burn some straw on top of them and then stratify at 2 - 5°c for 2 months[31][12]. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 3 months at 15°c[32]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame or greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer.

Cuttings of side shoots of the current season's growth, 5 - 8cm with a heel, August to December in a frame. The cuttings are very slow and can take a year to root[33][34]. Division in early spring. Take care because the plant resents root disturbance. Pot the divisions up and keep them in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are growing away actively.

Layering of long branches in early spring[12][24].

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


Requires a deep moist well-drained light or medium lime-free loam in sun or semi-shade[2][31][12]. One report says that this species succeeds in alkaline soils[35] (a rather surprising comment considering the general needs of the genus - it is more likely that the plant can grow on limestone so long as the soil remains acid[K]).Shade tolerant[36] but plants produce less fruit when they are grown in the shade[12]. Prefers a cool damp position.

A very ornamental plant, it is sometimes cultivated for its medicinal uses[33]. There are a number of named varieties developed for their ornamental interest[12]. The form 'Massachusetts' is an especially prostrate, free-flowering and free-fruiting form[10]. 'Anchor Bay', 'Point Reyes' and 'Vulcan's Peak' have all been mentioned as good groundcover forms[12]. This is one of the first plants to colonize bare and rocky ground and burnt over areas[22]. It is often an indicator of poor soils in the wild[11]. Plants resent root disturbance and should be placed in their final positions as soon as possible[31][32].

Hybridizes with other members of this genus, especially A. columbiana.


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Arctostaphylos uva-ursi. 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 Arctostaphylos uva-ursi.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Imported References
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
permanent shade
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

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    "image:Arctostaphylos-uva-ursi.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Arctostaphylos-uva-ursi.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

    "image:Arctostaphylos-uva-ursi.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

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    "image:Arctostaphylos-uva-ursi.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Arctostaphylos-uva-ursi.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Arctostaphylos-uva-ursi.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Arctostaphylos-uva-ursi.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Arctostaphylos-uva-ursi.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki., "image:Arctostaphylos-uva-ursi.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Arctostaphylos-uva-ursi.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki. "image:Arctostaphylos-uva-ursi.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.


    1. ? Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest. ()
    2. ? Simmons. A. E. Growing Unusual Fruit. David and Charles ISBN 0-7153-5531-7 (1972-00-00)
    3. ? Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
    4. ? 4.04.1 Ceres. Free for All. Thorsons Publishers ISBN 0-7225-0445-4 (1977-00-00)
    5. ? 5.05.1 Elias. T. and Dykeman. P. A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants. Van Nostrand Reinhold ISBN 0442222009 (1982-00-00)
    6. ? Yanovsky. E. Food Plants of the N. American Indians. Publication no. 237. U.S. Depf of Agriculture. ()
    7. ? Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
    8. ? Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    9. ? Turner. N. J. and Szczawinski. A. Edible Wild Fruits and Nuts of Canada. National Museum of Natural Sciences (1978-00-00)
    10. ? Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    11. ? Craighead. J., Craighead. F. and Davis. R. A Field Guide to Rocky Mountain Wildflowers The Riverside Press ISBN 63-7093 (1963-00-00)
    12. ? 12.0012.0112.0212.0312.0412.0512.0612.0712.0812.0912.10 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    13. ? 13.013.1 Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption. Koeltz Scientific Books ISBN 3874292169 (1984-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.1 Schery. R. W. Plants for Man. ()
    15. ? 15.015.1 Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants. MacMillan Publishing Co. New York. ISBN 0-02-544950-8 (1974-00-00)
    16. ? 16.016.1 Turner. N. J. Plants in British Columbian Indian Technology. British Columbia Provincial Museum ISBN 0-7718-8117-7 (1979-00-00)
    17. ? Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    18. ? 18.018.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
    19. ? 19.019.1 Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers Dorling Kindersley Publishers Ltd. ISBN 0-86318-386-7 (1990-00-00)
    20. ? 20.020.1 Royal Horticultural Society. Ground Cover Plants. Cassells. ISBN 0-304-31089-1 (1989-00-00)
    21. ? 21.021.1 Thomas. G. S. Plants for Ground Cover J. M. Dent & Sons ISBN 0-460-12609-1 (1990-00-00)
    22. ? Arnberger. L. P. Flowers of the Southwest Mountains. Southwestern Monuments Ass. (1968-00-00)
    23. ? Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
    24. ? Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    25. ? Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America. Houghton Mifflin Co. ISBN 0395467225 (1990-00-00)
    26. ? 26.026.1 Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
    27. ? Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
    28. ? 28.028.1 Kavasch. B. Native Harvests. Vintage Books ISBN 0-394-72811-4 (1979-00-00)
    29. ? 29.029.1 Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism. ()
    30. ? Emboden. W. Narcotic Plants Studio Vista ISBN 0-289-70864-8 (1979-00-00)
    31. ? Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
    32. ? 32.032.1 Rice. G. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 2. Thompson and Morgan. (1988-00-00)
    33. ? 33.033.1 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    34. ? Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co (1948-00-00)
    35. ? Thomas. G. S. Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos. Murray ISBN 0-7195-5043-2 (1992-00-00)
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    37. ? Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named PFAFimport-17

    "image:Arctostaphylos-uva-ursi.JPG|248px" cannot be used as a page name in this wiki.

    Facts about "Arctostaphylos uva-ursi"RDF feed
    Article is incompleteYes +
    Article requires citationsNo +
    Article requires cleanupYes +
    Belongs to familyEricaceae +
    Belongs to genusArctostaphylos +
    Functions asGround cover +, Pioneer + and Earth stabiliser +
    Has common nameBearberry +
    Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
    Has edible partFruit + and Unknown part +
    Has edible useUnknown use + and Tea +
    Has fertility typeSelf fertile +, Bee + and Self +
    Has flowers of typeHermaphrodite +
    Has growth rateModerate +
    Has hardiness zone4 +
    Has imageArctostaphylos-uva-ursi.JPG +
    Has lifecycle typePerennial +
    Has material partUnknown part +
    Has material useBeads +, Dye +, Tannin + and Waterproofing +
    Has mature height0.1 +
    Has mature width1 +
    Has medicinal partUnknown part +
    Has medicinal useAntiseptic +, Astringent +, Birthing aid +, Diuretic +, Hypnotic +, Kidney +, Lithontripic +, Poultice +, Skin +, Tonic + and Women's complaints +
    Has primary imageArctostaphylos-uva-ursi.JPG +
    Has search namearctostaphylos uva-ursi + and x +
    Has shade tolerancePermanent shade +
    Has soil ph preferenceVery acid +, Acid +, Neutral + and Alkaline +
    Has soil teloamyture preferenceLoamy +
    Has soil tesandyture preferenceSandy +
    Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
    Has sun preferenceFull sun +
    Has taxonomy nameArctostaphylos uva-ursi +
    Has water requirementsmoderate +
    Inhabits ecosystem nicheSoil surface +
    Is deciduous or evergreenEvergreen +
    Is herbaceous or woodyWoody +
    Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
    Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
    Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +