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Zone: 2 to 6

Height: 0.50 to 1.00 feet

Spread: 3.00 to 6.00 feet

Bloom Time: April to May

Bloom Description: White with tinge of pink

Sun: Full sun to part shade

Water: Dry to medium

Maintenance: Low

Suggested Use: Ground Cover. erosion control

Flower: Showy

Attracts: Birds

Fruit: Showy

Grow in acidic, dry to medium, well-drained, sandy or gritty soils in full sun. Tolerates light shade. Usually grows well in poor infertile soils. Plants should not be fertilized. Drought tolerant once established. Likes exposed open sites.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, known by a large number of common names including common bearberry and kinninnick, is an extremely winter hardy, creeping, slow-growing, prostrate, woody evergreen shrub that typically grows to 6-12” tall but spreads over time by flexible branching (roots at the nodes) to 3-6’ wide or more. This is a circumpolar ground-hugger which is native throughout the northern parts of North America, Europe and Asia. 

 Leaves turn bronze in winter before becoming green again in spring. Miniature, drooping, urn-shaped, white-to-pink flowers (to 1/4” long) in small terminal clusters bloom in April to May. Rounded, berry-like fruits (drupes) ripen in August-September. Each drupe (1/2” long) contains 5 nutlets (seeds). Drupes are green in summer ripening to red in fall, sometimes remaining on the plants throughout winter. Drupes are bittersweet raw off the plant, but sweeter when first boiled. Fruits are technically edible for humans, but are generally considered to be mealy and lacking flavor.  On the plus side, bears, birds and small mammals love the fruits.

One of the popular common names for this plant is kinnikinnick which is an Algonquin word meaning smoking mixture. Native Americans and later early pioneers sometimes smoked the dried leaves of bearberry (alone or mixed with other leaves, tobacco and/or the dry inner bark of red osier dogwood) in pipes.

‘Massachusetts’ is a prostrate, flat-growing plant that is noted for producing abundant flowers and fruits. Smaller leaves than those found on species plants. Good disease resistance.

No serious insect or disease problems. I

Moderate to large scale ground cover with year round interest. Helps control soil erosion on slopes and hillsides. Effective when grown around shrubs, along sunny border margins, in naturalized areas and in native plant gardens. Rock gardens. Herb gardens. Drape over a wall.

Teas have been made from certain plant parts (leaves, stems and roots) for a variety of medicinal purposes (antiseptic, astringent and diuretic). Leaves are rich in tannins and have been used in the process of tanning hides/leather. Sprigs of green leaves with red berries may be used as Christmas decorations.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi 'Massachusetts'