Global Range: Widespread in boreal North America.
Bog cranberry is distributed throughout Alaska and across Canada to
Labrador, Greenland, and Newfoundland. It also occurs south through New
England, the northern portions of the Great Lakes States, and western
Washington and Oregon. Bog cranberry is also found in Europe and Asia
Regional Distribution in the Western United States
This species can be found in the following regions of the western United States (according to the Bureau of Land Management classification of Physiographic Regions of the western United States):
1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
Occurrence in North America
NH NJ NY NC OH OR PA RI VT VA
WA WV WI AB BC LB MB NB NF NT
NS ON PE PQ SK YT
Bog cranberry is a very small, prostrate, evergreen shrub. The slender
stems are vinelike, and root at the nodes. The lance-shaped leaves are
leathery and have revolute margins. Pink to red flowers are borne
singly or in clusters at the ends of stems. The fruit is a red, juicy
berry [1,21,50]. Underground perennating structures are generally well
below the soil surface . Mycorrhizal associations exist on
unsuberized portions of the roots and allow for improved plant nutrient
levels and growth rates in the acid or peat soil in which bog cranberry
is found .
Bog cranberry is found in ombrotrophic sphagnum bogs and minerotrophic
fens in moist coastal and boreal forests [4,17,18,50]. Bog cranberry
grows on peat in these poorly drained, subhygric to hygric sites that
have a very high water table [7,27,32,38]. The ground may be saturated
for most or part of the year. The bog sites derive water from
precipitation only and are generally nutrient-poor and low in
productivity. The soil is very acidic and pH ranges from about 2.9 to
4.7 [7,17,32]. Since fen water is derived from ground water as well as
precipitation, the fen sites are more ion-rich, and therefore, more
alkaline. The soil pH ranges from about 6.0 to 7.5 [4,17,43]. These
sites are generally not as nutrient-poor since the environment is more
favorable for decomposer species . Bogs are generally level but are
often patterned by scattered mounds of sphagnum moss. Bog cranberry
often grows on these hummocks. Bog cranberry is found in cool-temperate
to cool-mesothermal climates .
Associated tree species include: eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis),
western hemlock (T. heterophylla), northern white cedar (Thuja
occidentalis), western redcedar (T. plicata), Alaska cedar
(Chamaecyparis nootkatensis), Altantic white cedar (C. thyoides),
quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), balsam poplar (P. balsamifera),
swamp birch (Betula pumila), bog birch (B. glandulosa), paper birch (B.
papyrifera), yellow birch (B. alleghaniensis), and black ash (Fraxinus
Associated understory species include: leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne
calyculata), bog rosemary (Andromeda glaucophylla), bog laurel (Kalmia
polifolia), pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea), Labrador tea (Ledum
groenlandicum), cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus), rhodora (Rhododendron
canadense), glossy buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula), sundew (Drosera spp.),
cottonsedge (Eriophorum virginatum and E. angustifolium), and various
sedges (Carex spp.), lichens (Cladina and Cladonia spp.), and sphagnum
Key Plant Community Associations
Bog cranberry is classified as an indicator of moist to very wet,
nitrogen-poor soils and high surface groundwater . It is also an
indicator of coniferous swamps . Bog cranberry is not listed as a
dominant or codominant understory species in published classification
Habitat: Plant Associations
This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):
More info for the term: bog
K004 Fir - hemlock forest
K093 Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
K094 Conifer bog
K095 Great Lakes pine forest
K096 Northeastern spruce - fir forest
This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):
FRES10 White - red - jack pine
FRES11 Spruce - fir
FRES23 Fir - spruce
Habitat: Cover Types
This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):
1 Jack pine
5 Balsam fir
12 Black spruce
13 Black spruce - tamarack
107 White spruce
201 White spruce
204 Black spruce
253 Black spruce - white spruce
Flower-Visiting Insects of Small Cranberry in Illinois
(bees suck nectar or collect pollen, flies suck nectar or feed on pollen; observations are from Reader)
Apidae (Bombini): Bombus spp. fq, Psithyrus sp. sn
Halictidae (Halictinae): Lasioglossum sp. cp; Andrenidae (Andreninae): Andrena spp. sn fq
Syrphidae: Eristalis sp.; Anthomyiidae: Unidentified sp.; Tachinidae: Unidentified sp.
Foodplant / gall
fruitbody of Exobasidium oxycocci causes gall of dark red, deformed shoot of Vaccinium oxycoccos
Foodplant / spot causer
fruitbody of Exobasidium rostrupii causes spots on leaf of Vaccinium oxycoccos
Other: major host/prey
Foodplant / pathogen
Monilia dematiaceous anamorph of Monilinia oxycocci infects and damages brown rotted fruit of Vaccinium oxycoccos
Foodplant / parasite
telium of Naohidemyces vacciniorum parasitises leaf of Vaccinium oxycoccos
Other: unusual host/prey
Foodplant / feeds on
scattered, erumpent pycnidium of Topospora coelomycetous anamorph of Topospora obturata feeds on leaf of Vaccinium oxycoccos
Fire Management Considerations
Prescribed burning is the recommended management tool for the sites that
bog cranberry inhabits . Fire reduces tall shrub cover, which
allows low shrub species to persist in bogs . Burning produces a
retrogression from a bog forest dominated by trees to an open sphagnum
bog dominated by sedges and shrubs such as bog cranberry . Without
fire, bog cranberry eventually is shaded out by taller shrub and tree
Commercial cranberry growers often use fire to maintain bogs and
increase fruiting of bog cranberry .
Plant Response to Fire
Bog cranberry sprouts from rhizomes following fire . It generally
becomes more abundant with repeated fires . In the Acadian Forest
Region of Maine, bog cranberry in tamarack (Larix laricina) bogs
increased after a prescribed fire. Prior to burning, bog cranberry
stems were present at less than .09 per square foot (1/sq m). Within 5
months following the fire, the number of bog cranberry stems had
increased via rhizome sprouting to 2.7 per square foot (29/sq m) .
After a prescribed fire in northern Wisconsin, increased fruit and seed
production and active succulent green growth was observed in bog
cranberry. The plant flowered and fruited profusely within 1 to 3 years
following the fire .
Immediate Effect of Fire
Fire usually top-kills bog cranberry. Severe fires that remove the
underlying sphagnum layer generally kill underground reproductive
off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2
Members of the family Ericaceae easily regenerate from rhizomes
following fire . Bog cranberry is able to survive low- to
moderate-severity fires because rhizomes are found well below the
surface of the bog . Bog cranberry can utilize ash nutrients for
rapid growth, preventing additional nutrient loss from the burn site
. Wildfires are infrequent in the wet or saturated habitats that
bog cranberry generally occupies .
More info for the terms: bog, climax, shrubs, succession
Bog cranberry can be an early colonizer in secondary succession but is
generally associated with mid-seral stages of primary succession. It is
one of the first colonizers of burned bogs and increases in abundance
with repeated fires . In bog development however, bog cranberry
becomes more abundant after an initial sedge mat has formed. It is most
important in the sphagnum community stage, which consists mainly of
sphagnum mosses and ericaceous shrubs [6,16,45]. Bog cranberry is shade
intolerant , and is generally only present as a relic in climax bogs
that have developed a conifer overstory .
Vegetative regeneration is the most important mode of reproduction of
bog cranberry. It can also establish by seed; seedlings, however, are
Bog cranberry is self-pollinating, but pollination by insects
(especially bees) increases seed production . Cranberry (Vaccinium
spp. sec. Oxycoccos) seeds do not germinate immediately after berries
become ripe, but dormancy can be overcome by afterripening. Storage of
seeds at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 deg C) for 6 to 7 months allows for
germination of seeds at 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 deg C) .
Seeds are dispersed by birds and animals that eat bog cranberry fruits
Bog cranberry regenerates vegetatively by sprouting from rhizomes and by
Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)
More info for the terms: chamaephyte, geophyte
Life History and Behavior
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Vaccinium oxycoccos
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Vaccinium oxycoccos
Public Records: 6
Specimens with Barcodes: 8
Species With Barcodes: 1
Barcode data: Vaccinium oxycoccus
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Vaccinium oxycoccus
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 1
Species With Barcodes: 1
Barcode data: Oxycoccus palustris
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Oxycoccus palustris
Public Records: 4
Specimens with Barcodes: 17
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure
NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure
Reasons: Widespread and common through boreal Northern Hemisphere, with thousands of occurrences.
Bog cranberry is listed as endangered in Ohio by the Natural Heritage
Program . It is considered threatened in Illinois . The
variety ovalifolium is classified as rare in Nova Scotia and New England
Commercial cultivation of bog cranberry is not widespread in the United
States but is important in Russia. Cultivation experiments have shown
that bog cranberry grows well in acid peat substrates . It does not
respond well to transplanting .
Bog cranberries are of local commercial importance , and berry
picking provides recreation for many people. However, decreased fruit
production has resulted from the draining of bogs for agricultural
purposes or to access timber . As bog or fen areas are drained
and cleared, wetland species such as sphagnum mosses and bog cranberry
are replaced by vegetation that indicates drier conditions and the
cessation of peat formation .
Bog cranberry is susceptible to many different fungal diseases .
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites
The value of bog cranberry for rehabilitation of disturbed sites is not
well documented. It has, however, been successfully transplanted to a
saline-impacted bog in Indiana .
Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
browse by big game animals . A few bird species including Hudsonian
godwits, sharp-tailed grouse, and ring-necked pheasants eat bog
cranberry fruits [30,39,48]. Small mammals such as chipmunks,
squirrels, rabbits, and hares may occasionally utilize the berries.
Other uses and values
and jellies. However, they are seldom abundant enough to be gathered in
large quantities [21,50]. Native Americans used the berries, twigs, and
bark for medicinal purposes .
Vaccinium oxycoccos is a species of flowering plant in the heath family. It is known by the common names small cranberry, bog cranberry, swamp cranberry, or, particularly in Britain, just cranberry. It is widespread throughout the cool temperate northern hemisphere, including northern Europe, northern Asia and northern North America.
This cranberry is a small, prostrate shrub with vine-like stems that root at the nodes. The leaves are leathery and lance-shaped, up to 1 cm long. Flowers arise on nodding stalks a few centimeters tall. The corolla is white or pink and flexed backward away from the center of the flower. The fruit is a red berry which has spots when young. It measures up to 1.2 cm wide. The plant forms associations with mycorrhizae. It mainly reproduces vegetatively.
This is a widespread and common species. It is an indicator of moist to wet soils which are low in nitrogen and have a high water table. It is an indicator of coniferous swamps. It grows in bogs and fens in moist forest habitat. It grows on peat which may be saturated most of the time. The soil in bogs is acidic and low in nutrients. The plant's mycorrhizae help it obtain nutrients in this situation. Fens have somewhat less acidic soil, which is also higher in nutrients. The plant can often be found growing on hummocks of Sphagnum mosses. In North America, other species found in this forest understory habitat include leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata), bog rosemary (Andromeda glaucophylla), bog laurel (Kalmia polifolia), pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea), Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum), cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus), rhodora (Rhododendron canadense), glossy buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula), sundew (Drosera spp.), cottonsedge (Eriophorum virginatum and E. angustifolium), and species of sedge and lichen. The plant easily colonizes bog habitat that has recently burned. It survives fire with its underground rhizomes.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Vaccinium oxycoccos.|
- Matthews, Robin F. 1992. Vaccinium oxycoccos. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory.
- Stace, Clive (2010), New Flora of the British Isles (3rd ed.), Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, p. 512, ISBN 978-0-521-70772-5
- Vaccinium oxycoccos. Flora of North America.
- Vaccinium oxycoccos. NatureServe.
- Jones, Anore (1983). "Nauriat niginaqtuat (Plants that we eat)". Maniilaq Association Traditional Nutrition Program (Kotzebue, Alaska): 104. According to the brief annotation in Anonymous (2003, unpaginated webpage).
- Anonymous (2003). "Search results for Vaccinium oxycoccos". Native American Ethnobotany. Dearborn, MI: University of Michigan-Dearborn. Retrieved 15 June 2012.
Names and Taxonomy
Comments: If placed in the segregate genus Oxycoccos, these plants are called Oxycoccus oxycoccos, a permissible near-tautonym (see Voss, Michigan Flora, vol. 3). Synonyms include Oxycoccus palustris, and (incorrectly) O. quadripetalus.
The currently accepted scientific name of bog cranberry is Vaccinium
oxycoccos Linnaeus [20,24,31,50], in the family Ericaceae. The
taxonomically complex genus Vaccinium has been divided into a number of
subgenera or sections. The cranberry genera is often segregated as the
subgenus or genus Oxycoccos [1,21,36,41]. Several authorities recognize
the following varieties [20,24,36,50]:
Vaccinium oxycoccos var. microcarpus (Turcz.) Fedtsh. & Flerov.
Vaccinium oxycoccos var. ovalifolium Michx.
Vaccinium oxycoccos var. intermedium Gray
Oxycoccos palustris Persh
Oxycoccos oxycoccos MacM.
Oxycoccos quadripetalus Gilib.
Oxycoccos intermedius Rydb.
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