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Arctostaphylos uva-ursi - (L.)Spreng.
                 
Common Name Bearberry
Family Ericaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards This plant is best not used by pregnant women since it can reduce the supply of blood to the foetus[172]. Large doses may lead to nausea and vomiting due to tannin content. Overdoes may result in tinnitus, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, convulsions and collapse [301].
Habitats Dry open woods, often on gravelly or sandy soils[212]. It is also found on sand dunes along the coast[212] and is also found on limestone in the European Alps.
Range Britain. Northern N. America. N. Europe. N. Asia.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun

Summary

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Bearberry


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Koeh-013.jpg
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Bearberry
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Koeh-013.jpg
   
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of shrub
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is an evergreen Shrub growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Apr to July, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, self.The plant is self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms
A. officinalis. Arbutus uva-ursi. Uva-ursi procumbens. Uva-ursi uva-ursi.
Habitats
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Ground Cover;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Fruit.
Edible Uses: Tea.

Fruit - raw or cooked[3, 7, 8, 62, 161, 257]. Insipid, dry and mealy[4, 101, 183], it becomes sweeter when cooked[212]. Added to stews etc, it is a good source of carbohydrates[101]. The fruit can also be used to make a cooling drink or used for preserves etc[161, 183]. It can be dried and stored for later use[257]. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter[200]. A tea is made from the dried leaves[177, 183].
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antiseptic;  Astringent;  Birthing aid;  Diuretic;  Hypnotic;  Kidney;  Lithontripic;  Poultice;  
Skin;  Tonic;  Women's complaints.

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[254]. The leaves contain hydroquinones and are strongly antibacterial, especially against certain organisms associated with urinary infections[238]. The plant should be used with caution, however, because hydroquinones are also toxic[222]. The leaves are antiseptic, astringent, diuretic, lithontripic, hypnotic and tonic[7, 9, 21, 102, 165, 172, 192]. The dried leaves are used in the treatment of a variety of complaints[4]. These leaves should be harvested in early autumn, only green leaves being selected, and then dried in gentle heat[4]. 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[4, 21, 46, 172, 222, 254]. The tea is more effective if the urine is alkaline, thus it is best used in combination with a vegetable-based diet[254]. 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[257]. 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[257]. The dried leaves have been used for smoking as an alternative to tobacco[238]. One report says that it is unclear whether this was for medicinal purposes or for the intoxicated state it could produce[192], whilst another says that the leaves were smoked to treat headaches and also as a narcotic[257]. The herb should not be prescribed to children, pregnant women or patients with kidney disease[238]. 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[257]. Other uses: fluid retention and bed wetting. Claimed to strengthen the heart muscle and urinary tract and to return the womb to its normal size after childbirth [301]. Treatment should be short (seven days) and used with an alkaline diet [301]. Not recommended for children under 12.
Other Uses
Beads;  Dye;  Pioneer;  Soil stabilization;  Tannin;  Waterproofing.

A yellowish-brown dye is obtained from the leaves[57, 101], it does not require a mordant[168]. A grey-brown dye is obtained from the fruit[257]. The dried fruits are used in rattles and as beads on necklaces etc[99, 257]. The leaves are a good source of tannin[46, 61, 212]. The mashed berries can be rubbed on the insides of coiled cedar root baskets in order to waterproof them[257]. A good ground-cover for steep sandy banks in a sunny position[188, 200] or in light shade[197]. A carpeting plant, growing fairly fast and carpeting as it spreads[208]. It is valuable for checking soil erosion on watersheds[212]. This is also a pioneer plant in the wild, often being the first plant to colonize burnt-over areas, especially on poor soils[155].
Cultivation details
Requires a deep moist well-drained light or medium lime-free loam in sun or semi-shade[3, 11, 200]. One report says that this species succeeds in alkaline soils[182] (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[31] but plants produce less fruit when they are grown in the shade[200]. Prefers a cool damp position. A very ornamental plant, it is sometimes cultivated for its medicinal uses[1]. There are a number of named varieties developed for their ornamental interest[200]. The form 'Massachusetts' is an especially prostrate, free-flowering and free-fruiting form[183]. 'Anchor Bay', 'Point Reyes' and 'Vulcan's Peak' have all been mentioned as good groundcover forms[200]. This is one of the first plants to colonize bare and rocky ground and burnt over areas[155]. It is often an indicator of poor soils in the wild[212]. Plants resent root disturbance and should be placed in their final positions as soon as possible[11, 134]. Hybridizes with other members of this genus, especially A. columbiana.
Propagation
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[11, 200]. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 3 months at 15°c[134]. 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[1, 78]. 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[200, 238].
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Arctostaphylos alpinaAlpine Bearberry21
Arctostaphylos columbianaHairy Manzanita21
Arctostaphylos glaucaBigberry Manzanita22
Arctostaphylos manzanitaManzanita, Whiteleaf manzanita, Konocti manzanita, Contra Costa manzanita, Roof's manzanita, Wieslan31
Arctostaphylos nevadensisPine-Mat Manzanita21
Arctostaphylos parryanaParry Manzanita10
Arctostaphylos patulaGreenleaf Manzanita31
Arctostaphylos pungensPointleaf Manzanita11
Arctostaphylos stanfordianaStanford's manzanita, Rincon manzanita30
Arctostaphylos tomentosaDowny Manzanita, Woollyleaf manzanita, Brittleleaf manzanita, Dacite manzanita, Rosy manzanita, San33
Vaccinium arctostaphylosCaucasian Whortleberry30
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Expert comment
 
Author
(L.)Spreng.
Botanical References
1117200
Links / References
For a list of references used on this page please go here
Readers comment
 
Elizabeth H.
Gregory Sun Feb 11 2007
Bearberry [the dried and crushed leaves]was also used by the native americans as an "extender" for their pipe smoking mixes. Tobacco being "expensive" they would extend it by mixing it with "rabbit tobacco" [comfrey], shredded {inner] bark from cedar and others. The resulting mix was then called "kinni-kinnick".
Elizabeth H.
Alan Walsh Wed Jul 11 2007
Hi i'm a complete amateur in the gardening world and a friend of mine told me i need some ground cover ? I was wondering if you could actually send me some pictures of some plants so i could see them the location is in a sunny spot and has a palm tree in the centre of it . I really wanted something evergreen and nothing that was likely to die off easily and also obviously something that looks good ? Small conifers ? or shrubs perhaps ?
Elizabeth H.
Marinella Zepigi Tue Jun 10 2008

Acta plantarum forum botanico Description - Photos - Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (L.) Spreng.

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