Native Americans smoked it in ceremonial pipes, modern Americans use it for many things from treating urinary tract problems to skin lightening, but bearberry is most valued as an outstanding groundcover. It is a low growing evergreen shrub with beautiful foliage and bright red berries in fall. The plants grow up to 12” tall and slowly form dense, creeping mat of prostrate red stems carrying leathery, dark green, tear-shaped leaves about 1″ long, sometimes with a bronze or reddish tinge by fall. In spring, terminal clusters of tiny, pendent, bell-shaped white to pink flowers appear that are followed by 1/2″ wide berries that are green maturing to bright red by fall. Bearberry thrives in poor sandy soil and is particularly useful  as a ground cover especially in seaside gardens because it tolerates salt and drought. It is beautiful cascading down a wall. Leaves and berries are used for Christmas decorations.  Bearberry is difficult to establish and prefers cool climates. 

bearberry Arctostaphylos uva ursi fl

Type: Evergreen prostate shrub

Height: up to 12″

Bloom Color: White to pink

Bloom Time: Spring

Size: 6-12” H x 15’

Light: Full sun; tolerates some shade

Soil: Infertile, sandy, dry to moderately moist, well-drained, slightly acidic

Hardiness: Zones 2-7

Photo Credits: Wikipedia

By Karen