Overview

Comprehensive Description

Description

Pure stands of bearberry can be extremely dense, with heights rarely taller than 6 inches. Erect branching twigs emerge from long flexible prostrate stems, which are produced by single roots. The

trailing stems will layer, sending out small roots periodically. The finely textured velvety branches are initially white to pale green, becoming smooth and red-brown with maturity. The small solitary three scaled buds are dark brown.

The simple leaves of this broadleaf evergreen are alternately arranged on branches. Each leaf is held by a twisted leaf stalk, vertically. The leathery dark green leaves are an inch long and have rounded tips tapering back to the base. In fall, the leaves begin changing from a dark green to a reddish-green to purple.

Terminal clusters of small urn-shaped flowers bloom from May to June. The perfect flowers are white to pink, and bear round, fleshy or mealy, bright red to pink fruits called drupes. This smooth, glossy skinned fruit will range from 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter. The fruit will persist on the plant into early winter. Each drupe contains 1 to 5 hard seeds, which need to be scarified and stratified prior to germination to reduce the seed coat and break embryo dormancy. There is an average of 40,900 cleaned seeds per pound.

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Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Alternative names

kinnikinnick

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Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© NatureServe

Source: NatureServe

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Occurrence in North America

     AK  CA  CO  CT  GA  ID  IL  ME  MA  MI
     MN  MT  NV  NH  NJ  NM  ND  OH  OR  PA
     SD  UT  VT  VA  WA  WI  WY  AB  BC  LB
     MB  NB  NF  NT  NS  ON  PE  PQ  SK  YT

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Kinnikinnick is a widespread, circumpolar species [111].  In North America,
it grows from the northern half of California north to Alaska and across
Canada and the northern United States to New England and Newfoundland.
Its range extends south in the Rocky Mountains to New Mexico.  In
eastern North America, it extends south along the Atlantic Coast to New
Jersey and in the Appalachian Mountains to Virginia.  Rare, disjunct
populations occur in Georgia [59,117,152].

Most infrataxa occur in the Rocky Mountains and are widespread.
Distribution of the forms is as follows:

    Forma adenotricha is common in the Rocky Mountains but absent in the
Appalachian Mountain region and both Coasts.  A closely related taxa is
found in the Sierra Nevada [117,149]. 
    Forma coactilis may not be present in Alaska; it is most abundant
on both Coasts.  It is found farther south along the Pacific Coast and
in the Appalachian Mountains than the other forms [117,149].  It is the
primary form in Ohio and New England [15,125]. 
    Forma longipilosa is absent from the Appalachian Mountains and very
rare on both Coasts [117,149]. 
    Forma stipitata grows only in the Rocky Mountains and far West
[117,149]. 
    Forma uva-ursi extends the farthest north in the Arctic and is
circumboreal through Eurasia [117,149]. 

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Regional Distribution in the Western United States

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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
    4  Sierra Mountains
    5  Columbia Plateau
    6  Upper Basin and Range
    8  Northern Rocky Mountains
    9  Middle Rocky Mountains
   10  Wyoming Basin
   11  Southern Rocky Mountains
   12  Colorado Plateau
   13  Rocky Mountain Piedmont
   15  Black Hills Uplift
   16  Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands

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Distribution and adaptation

Bearberry’s native range is from Labrador to Alaska, south to Virginia, Illinois, Nebraska, and in the mountains from New Mexico north through California to Alaska. This long-lived, low growing shrub is very cold tolerant. This plant prefers coarse well to excessively drained soils of forests, sand dunes, bald or barren areas. It does not tolerate moist or off-drained sites. Although bearberry is often found growing in the open on sand dunes, it grows well under partial shade of forest canopies.

For a current distribution map, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Website.

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USDA NRCS Plant Materials Program

Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the term: shrub

Kinnikinnick is a prostrate, evergreen shrub that produces extensive
trailing stems [92].  The bark is thin and exfoliates in largish flakes
[142].  The leathery, dark green leaves are about 0.5 to 1 inch
(1.27-2.54 cm) long.  The flowers are borne in terminal racemes [59] and
are followed by bright red berrylike drupes, 0.25 to 0.4 inch (6-10 mm)
broad. Each drupe contains five (sometimes four) single-seeded nutlets
[50,59].

In western Montana, kinnikinnick roots were found to extend to a depth of
36 inches (91 cm) on one site and 72 inches (183 cm) on a drier site
with the same soil type [100].  In two jack pine stands in central
Alberta, kinnikinnick roots extended from 43.3 to 53.1 inches deep (110-135
cm) [135].

The forms (sometimes classed as varieties) of kinnikinnick are primarily
distinguished by the types of pubescence.  These have been described in
detail [15,117,142].

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat characteristics

More info for the terms: fern, organic soils, peat, taiga

Habitat:  Kinnikinnick is most often a dominant understory species in open
pine forests under jack pine (Pinus banksiana), lodgepole pine (P.
contorta), limber pine (P. flexilis), ponderosa pine (P. ponderosa) or
pitch pine (P. rigida) [47,96,113,138,148].  It is also found in the
understories of Douglas-fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii), subalpine fir
(Abies lasiocarpa), white spruce (Picea glauca), black spruce (P.
mariana), paper birch (Betula papyrifera), aspen, and some eastern
deciduous forests [6,30,96,134].  In the Pacific Northwest and Rocky
Mountains, it grows on steep, sunny, dry slopes [41,131].  In the
southern boreal forests of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, kinnikinnick is
characteristic of dry and very dry forests [113].  It is common in
heathland communities but grows in a variety of boreal forest sites,
including eroded banks and peat bogs.  It also grows in sand-dune areas
of subboreal regions [111].  Kinnikinnick is fairly abundant in the alpine
zone of the Northwest and northern Rocky Mountains and may be dominant
on stable, well drained, south-facing sites [10,27,31,32,33].  It grows
under Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana) in Washington woodlands [42].
Kinnikinnick is conspicuous in the Badlands of eastern Alberta [96].  In
the foothills of the northern Great Plains, it grows in the rough fescue
(Festuca scabrella) prairie [21,80].  In the Alaskan taiga, kinnikinnick
occupies warmer sites [140].

In Michigan and Wisconsin, kinnikinnick is found on dry sand plains, and in
Wisconsin it grows in bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum)-grasslands
[18,25].  In Ohio it grows on the beaches and dunes along Lake Erie
[15].  In Ontario, it frequently grows on the shores of lakes and rivers
and in semiopen coniferous woods [127].  In New England it grows in dry
sandy open woods [125].  Kinnikinnick is one of the most abundant low
understory species in the fire-prone, pygmy pine forests of the New
Jersey Pine Barrens [91].

Habitat variation by form:  Collections of North American kinnikinnick
plants exhibit form differences between sites.  In the Rocky Mountains
these ecological differences between forms are less pronounced
[116,117].  Forma coactilis grows best on the driest sites and is
generally more common on acidic and drier substrates.  It is the only
form found along the Coasts (pH of most sites less than 6.6) and on the
relatively moist substrates of the Appalachian Mountains (pH of most
sites 3.7-5.5).  Forma coactilis grows most frequently in full sunlight
and is relatively uncommon on shaded sites [116,117].  Forma adenotricha
is most common on basic substrates and seldom occurs on very acidic
soils.  It seems to grow better on relatively moist sites.  In the Great
Lakes area, it is the most shade-tolerant form [116,117].  Forma
stipitata is more frequent on relatively basic sites; forma longpilosa
grows well on acidic soils.  Both grow well on sites with intermediate
moisture status.  Forma stipitata is most common on open sites in the
Rocky Mountains; forma longipilosa grows in intermediate light
conditions [116,117].

Soils:  Kinnikinnick grows on a wide range of soil textures, although it is
commonly found on well-drained soils that have relatively low amounts of
clay and silt [8,76,142,147,148].  It frequently occurs on sandy soils,
shallow soils, soils on rock outcrops, and rapidly drained
coarse-skeletal soils [70,127].  Along both Coasts and in conifer
forests, kinnikinnick occurs on dry, acidic substrates [117].  In the
Appalachian Mountains, it usually grows on moist, acidic soils.  The
sandy to rocky soils on which kinnikinnick grows in the Great Lakes region
are neutral to basic [117].  In Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, Utah,
and Wyoming, kinnikinnick growth is fair to good on acidic soils; poor to
fair on organic soils and poor on saline, sodic and sodic-saline soils.
Optimum soil depth in this area is 10 to 20 inches (25.4-50.8 cm) [30].

In the subalpine zone of western Montana, kinnikinnick grows on soils
derived from granite and quartzite parent materials but not on soils
developed on limestone [48].  However, it grows on soils formed from
calcareous parent materials in the alpine zone [10].  It is found on
basaltic lava flows, mudflow deposits, serpentine outcrops, and coarse
glacial outwash in the Pacific Northwest [42].

Kinnikinnick is common on dry, nutrient-poor soils [8,76,148].  Information
relating kinnikinnick growth habits to specific soil nutrient levels is
available for British Columbia [147].  Results of one study indicate
that leaves are retained longer on plants growing on a sandy,
nutrient-poor substrate than on plants growing on a site with better
nutrient availability [111].

Elevation:  Elevational ranges in some western regions are
[20,30,142,150]:

                     Minimum                   Maximum
                   feet      meters         feet      meters

Alberta             500       150            2000      610
Colorado           6000      1829           11700     3566
Montana            2900       884            7700     2347
New Mexico         5000      1524           10000     3048
Utah               7021      2140           11516     3510
Wyoming            4000      1219            9700     2957

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Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the terms: association, natural, series

In British Columbia kinnikinnick indicates sites that are moisture
deficient because of rapid drainage [70].  Published classification
schemes listing kinnikinnick as an indicator species or a dominant part of
vegetation include:

The Alaska vegetation classification [141]
A classification of spruce-fir and mixed conifer habitat types of
  Arizona and New Mexico [94]
Forest habitat types in the Apache, Gila, and part of the Cibola
  National Forests, Arizona and New Mexico [40]
A preliminary classification of the natural vegetation of Colorado [7]
Forest habitat types of Montana [107]
Forest and woodland habitat types (plant associations) of northern New
  Mexico and northern Arizona [77]
Climax forest series of northern New Mexico and southern Colorado [28]
A classification of forest habitat types of northern New Mexico and
  southern Colorado [29]
Riparian zone associations: Deschutes, Ochoco, Fremont, and Winema
  National Forests [72]
Plant association and management guide: Willamette National Forest [57]
Plant associations of south Chiloquin and Klamath Ranger
  Districts--Winema National Forest [64]
Plant associations of the central Oregon Pumice Zone [145]
Coniferous forest habitat types of northern Utah [90]
Forested plant associations of the Okanogan National Forest [151]
The forest communities of Mount Rainier National Park [43
Forest types of the North Cascades National Park Service Complex [3]
Alpine and high subalpine plant communities of the North Cascades Range,
  Washington and British Columbia [33]
Forest vegetation of eastern Washington and northern Idaho [26]
Field guide to forest habitat types of northern Wisconsin [71]
Forest vegetation of the Bighorn Mountains, Wyoming: a habitat type
  classification [61]
Forest vegetation of the Medicine Bow National Forest in southeastern
  Wyoming [5]
The Pinus contorta forests of Banff and Jasper National Parks: a study
  in comparative synecology and syntaxonomy [76]
Field guide to forest ecosystems of west-central Alberta [20]

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Habitat: Cover Types

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This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

     1  Jack pine
    12  Black spruce
    15  Red pine
    18  Paper birch
    45  Pitch pine
   107  White spruce
   202  White spruce - paper birch
   206  Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir
   208  Whitebark pine
   210  Interior Douglas-fir
   211  White fir
   212  Western larch
   213  Grand fir
   215  Western white pine
   216  Blue spruce
   217  Aspen
   218  Lodgepole pine
   219  Limber pine
   229  Pacific Douglas-fir
   237  Interior ponderosa pine
   251  White spruce - aspen

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Habitat: Plant Associations

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This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

   K005  Mixed conifer forest
   K011  Western ponderosa forest
   K012  Douglas-fir forest
   K013  Cedar - hemlock - pine forest
   K014  Grand fir - Douglas-fir forest
   K015  Western spruce - fir forest
   K016  Eastern ponderosa forest
   K017  Black Hills pine forest
   K018  Pine - Douglas-fir forest
   K019  Arizona pine forest
   K020  Spruce - fir - Douglas-fir forest
   K021  Southwestern spruce - fir forest
   K022  Great Basin pine forest
   K026  Oregon oakwoods
   K037  Mountain mahogany - oak scrub
   K050  Fescue - wheatgrass
   K052  Alpine meadows and barren
   K056  Wheatgrass - needlegrass shrubsteppe
   K063  Foothills prairie
   K064  Grama - needlegrass - wheatgrass
   K066  Wheatgrass - needlegrass
   K067  Wheatgrass - bluestem - needlegrass
   K081  Oak savanna
   K093  Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
   K095  Great Lakes pine forest
   K110  Northeastern oak - pine forest

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Habitat: Ecosystem

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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
   FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine
   FRES19  Aspen - birch
   FRES20  Douglas-fir
   FRES21  Ponderosa pine
   FRES22  Western white pine
   FRES23  Fir - spruce
   FRES25  Larch
   FRES26  Lodgepole pine
   FRES28  Western hardwoods
   FRES29  Sagebrush
   FRES34  Chaparral - mountain shrub
   FRES36  Mountain grasslands
   FRES38  Plains grasslands
   FRES44  Alpine

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Dispersal

Establishment

Bearberry can be propagated from seeds, softwood cuttings or pre-rooted stem cuttings. It is difficult to root this plant from bare cuttings in the greenhouse. Scarified seed sown in early summer will improve germination the following spring, but this technique is not as reliable as cuttings. Softwood cuttings should be harvested in late summer, and rooted stem cuttings are most successful when harvested during the dormant season. Successfully grown seedlings or cuttings should be handled carefully in containers; bare root plantings are rarely effective.

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Source: USDA NRCS PLANTS Database

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Associations

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / mycorrhiza / ectomycorrhiza
fruitbody of Cortinarius venetus is ectomycorrhizal with live root of Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Remarks: Other: uncertain

Foodplant / saprobe
effuse colony of Domingoella dematiaceous anamorph of Domingoella arctostaphyli is saprobic on dead leaf of Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Remarks: season: 10

Foodplant / parasite
fruitbody of Exobasidium sydowianum parasitises live leaf of Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Leccinum vulpinum is associated with Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Foodplant / parasite
amphigenous thyriothecium of Lembosina gontardii parasitises leaf of Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Remarks: season: 5

Foodplant / pathogen
Phytophthora kernoviae infects and damages Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Foodplant / parasite
hypophyllous apothecium of Propolis phacidioides parasitises grey leaf of Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Other: major host/prey

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General Ecology

Fire Management Considerations

More info for the terms: fuel, fuel loading

Equations have been developed for estimating the fuel loading of kinnikinnick from
cover and plant height values in the northern and central
Rocky Mountains [4,16].

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Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: cover, frequency, heath, prescribed fire, restoration, succession, wildfire

Kinnikinnick's response is variable and dependent upon survival of shallow
regenerative organs and seed sources.  Several studies seem to indicate
a slow postfire response with a definite increase in early succession.
Immediate postfire results of a study in Scotland heath were variable.
In one set of plots, seedling establishment during the first 3 years
after a March fire was good [87].  A second set of plots monitored
following the same fire had good vegetative recovery but no seedlings
[88].  Results of a northwestern Montana study showed the following
average percent cover of kinnikinnick 3 years after fire on plots burned at
different intensities [130]:

    Unburned       Light burn     Medium burn     Hot burn
      3.27            1.80            0.89          none

Following spring burning in a Montana shrubfield created 35 years
previously by wildfire, kinnikinnick volume decreased the first two
seasons, but kinnikinnick appeared to be recovering well [101].  Kinnikinnick
had an average of 0.6 percent frequency in samples from sites where
slash pile fires occurred 2 to 15 years previously and was considered to
be a retreater on hotly burned sites [144].  Following fire in Colorado
lodgepole pine forest stands, kinnikinnick was one of the major shrub
dominants during the first century of succession [17].  However, data
from this study do not show any kinnikinnick in the first few years after
fire [17].  Ten or 11 years after fire on the Tillamook Burn in Oregon,
kinnikinnick had 11 percent frequency on burned areas and was not present
in or near plots in adjacent unburned forest [98].  Following fire in
British Columbia, kinnikinnick cover is weakly correlated with
environmental factors.  Evidently, kinnikinnick is able to grow on a
variety of sites under postfire conditions [41].  Twenty-nine years
after an alpine wildfire in British Columbia, kinnikinnick cover and
frequency were slightly higher in burned areas of both krummholz and
heath than in unburned areas [32].

During the first 3 years after prescribed fire on jack pine clearcuts in
Michigan, kinnikinnick cover and frequency were very low when compared to
similar clearcuts that were not burned or undisturbed forest [1].
Another Michigan study found the highest postfire frequency of kinnikinnick
occurred 31 years after fire [120].  Results of a paired plot study in
the northern Wisconsin pine barrens indicated that kinnikinnick frequency
decreases after a single fire or repeated fires [143].

The following Research Project Summaries provide information on prescribed fire
use and postfire response of plant community species including kinnikinnick:

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the term: root crown

Kinnikinnick sprouts from the root crown and establishes from
seedbank-stored seed after fire [85,114,115,129].  Kinnikinnick seeds have
been reported to survive fire in the upper soil and be stimulated to
germinate by heat from the fire [114].  Rowe [114] suggests that
kinnikinnick may be a shade-intolerant species that stores seed in the
soil.

After fire in heathland, kinnikinnick sprouts vigorously and expands
rapidly [85].  Kinnikinnick reinvades burned sites from adjacent, unburned
vegetation and/or from seed [6,23,39,81,148]. 

In boreal forest, kinnikinnick has regenerated from surviving basal sprouts
following fire [115,129].  Full recovery in many areas has been slow
[17,32,120].

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Broad-scale Impacts of Fire

More info for the term: cover

In a controlled experiment, five kinnikinnick plants were burned at
different temperatures.  Heat treatments lasted about 2 minutes apiece.
Kinnikinnick response was strongest at the middle temperature of 1112
degrees F (600 degrees C).  The number of postfire sprouts after 3
months, and the amount of cover, height of the sprouts, and oven-dry
biomass after 17 months were recorded [86]:

                        Temperature in degrees F (degrees C)
                   752 (400)           1112 (600)          1472 (800)

                  mean  S.E.          mean  S.E.          mean  S.E.
Sprout numbers     44    20            48    13            26     7
Percent cover      42    15            78    19            45    19
Height (in)         2.4   3.5           2.4   0.4           1.6   0.4
       (cm)         6     9             6     1             4     1
Biomass (oz)        1.1   0.4           1.9   0.5           0.9   0.4
        (g)        30    11            54    15            26    10

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Immediate Effect of Fire

More info for the terms: duff, severity

Fire effects vary with the season, severity and intensity of the fire,
site and surface soil characteristics, and the age, location, and vigor
of the plants.  When kinnikinnick is rooted in mineral soil, it can survive
moderate fire [114].  However, when kinnikinnick is rooted in organic soil
horizons, a fire that removes those horizons will kill kinnikinnick
[6,14,39].  If the duff and soil are moist and not completely consumed
by fire, some kinnikinnick root crowns may survive [23].  Rooted stolons
under rocks, moist logs, or in other protected microsites may also
survive [22].  Kinnikinnick plants are sufficiently resistant to ignition
to inhibit fire spread in light, flashy fuels [46,68].

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the terms: ground residual colonizer, secondary colonizer, shrub

   Prostrate woody plant, stem growing on organic mantle
   Small shrub, adventitious-bud root crown
   Ground residual colonizer (on-site, initial community)
   Initial-offsite colonizer (off-site, initial community)
   Secondary colonizer - off-site seed

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Fire Ecology

More info for the terms: duff, fuel, root crown

Kinnikinnick is a sprouting species that is best suited to short fire
cycles with low fuel buildup and low fire intensities [65,76,114,122].
It possesses latent buds on the horizontal stems and dormant buds on the
stembase or root crown that allow sprouting of surviving plants or
rooted stems [22,23,39,85].  In northern Saskatchewan, it is a strong
sprouter from golfball-sized lignotubers located in mineral soil [114].
The crown of kinnikinnick plants may lie just below the top of mineral
soil, but as duff increases it migrates into the duff layer and becomes
susceptible to fire [14,92,114].  Kinnikinnick's main roots extend into
mineral soil, but it has been considered to be incapable of regeneration
from the roots if the crown is killed [81,92].  Since it can be
propagated from root cuttings [63], it might be capable of regeneration
from the roots under some circumstances.  Kinnikinnick may be a
seedbanking species with fire resistant seed [81,114].

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: cover, lichens, shrub, shrubs, succession, taiga

Kinnikinnick is a seral, shade-intolerant species often found in seral,
open pine forests [47,69,96,113,114,148].  It grows best in high light
situations and becomes very rare when shade becomes intense [8,41,123].
In the open, kinnikinnick forms a compact and intricate mat; under a
canopy, long, thin trailing stems creep along the forest floor. Shoots
are more upright under partial shade than in the open [111].  Pubescence
of cuttings from the same plant may vary with light intensity and
substrate [117].  Results of a Rocky Mountain study of postdisturbance
vegetation cover indicate that the primary variables governing early
seral kinnikinnick cover are overtopping cover of other shrubs and site
variables such as elevation [78].

Kinnikinnick pioneers on dry rock outcrops in the Pacific Northwest [42].
It is an integral part of succession on dry, stable, sand dunes in the
Great Lakes and along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts [34,42].  On
Lake Michigan sand dunes, it invades bunchgrass communities and thrives
under slow burial by drifting sand that covers part of the plant [103].
On drier sites in Yukon Territory and the Alaskan taiga, kinnikinnick is
part of secondary succession in communities with aspen and willows
(Salix spp.)  [56,140].  Kinnikinnick enters seral communities on glacial
outwash in the pioneer stage, reaches its highest cover early in the
meadow stage, and continues declining in the early shrub stage [139].
Kinnikinnick succeeds lichens in northern Manitoba when the lichens are
damaged by caribou use [93].

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the terms: adventitious, duff, lignotuber, litter

Vegetative:  Regeneration is primarily asexual [129].  After the second
year, the stems (stolons) produce adventitious, feeding roots at the
nodes which seldom grow deeper than the duff layer [92].  If a stem is
severed from the original plant, roots develop which penetrate into
mineral soil [92].  When plants are growing in sandy soil or loose duff,
the creeping stems often grow under the surface [14,111,129].  After 7
or 8 years, small nodules may appear at intervals along buried stems.
These nodules resemble nitrogen-fixing root nodules but examination has
shown these nodules to be composed of latent buds that have no ability
to fix nitrogen [38,136].  In eastern North America and Scotland, plants
subjected to physical damage or fire appear to have more of these
structures [136].  On 10-year-old or older stems, there may be as many
as 100 buds surrounding the lignotuber [111].  Kinnikinnick's clonal
pattern is generally compact.  Recruitment of new seedlings into
established clones has been reported [36].  A growth model based on a
detailed study of the morphology and growth of kinnikinnick is available
[111,112].

Seed:  The berrylike drupes persist on the plants through winter and are
dispersed by animals and gravity [114,134].  Seeds have hard seedcoats
and dormant embryos, and may be stored in the soil [11,81].  Soil-stored
seed has been found near the surface [87].  Study results indicate that
removing the surface litter increases seedling establishment, although
the total number of germinants in this study was very small [87].  In a
natural environment, seedling growth is slow for the first 3 years, then
increases.  During the first year, root growth exceeds shoot growth
[111].  Kinnikinnick plants which originated naturally as seedlings appear
to be rare [111].

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: chamaephyte

  
   Chamaephyte

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Life Form

More info for the term: shrub

Shrub

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

Fruit dispersal in eastern deciduous forests occurs between August and
March [134].  In California, flowering primarily occurs between March
and May, fruit ripening between June and August, and seed dispersal from
August to March [11].  In Ontario, bloom is in May and June, and fruit
is ripe by August or September [127].  In the northern Great Plains,
flowering is in June, and fruit develops by September [132].  In New
England, flowering is from May 1 to June 10 [125].  Virginia and
disjunct Georgia populations bloom in May and June [152].  In the Black
Hills of South Dakota, growth begins in May and ends in September, but
over half the season's total growth occurs during June [123].
Phenological observations of kinnikinnick made over an 8-year period east
of the Continental Divide in Montana and in Yellowstone National Park
are summarized below [121]:

                            Earliest        Average          Latest
                              Date            Date            Date
Leaf buds burst                May 27          June  6         June 22
Leaves full grown             July 21        August  2       August 15
Flowers start                  May 15           May 30         June 20
Flowers end                    May 31          June 11         June 30
Fruits ripe                    May 25        August 23    September 25
Seed fall starts (2
  observations)                October 16       October 16      October 16

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 8
Specimens with Barcodes: 28
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).

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Management

Management considerations

More info for the term: cover

Kinnikinnick increases following moderate disturbances [151].  In western
Montana, it increased strongly after clearcutting with no further
treatment but showed little change after clearcutting with broadcast
burning or mechanical scarification [6].  It is easily killed by
scraping or fire but is able to regenerate from surviving parts or seed
[6].  In north-central Washington it is often the only species growing
on abandoned stock driveways [151].  Kinnikinnick is moderately resistant
to trampling and has low short-term and long-term resilience [19].  In
northern Idaho, its cover was sharply reduced in grazed stands, and it
was considered to be less resistant to trampling due to its small size
and shallow rhizomes (buried stems) [153].  In the Wind River Range of
Wyoming, kinnikinnick increases in response to heavy livestock grazing and
trampling and becomes characteristic of disturbed aspen (Populus
tremuloides) stands [110].

Kinnikinnick is a host to yellow witch's broom, which also affects three
species of spruce (Picea spp.) in Alberta [148].  Kinnikinnick's
sensitivity to herbicides varies from susceptible to intermediate
resistance, depending on both the type of treatment and the life stage
treated [9,13].  Resprouts following disturbance are easily killed by
herbicides, while old-growth is more difficult to kill [13].  Detailed
treatment information is available [13,104].

Kinnikinnick is relatively insensitive to the effects of sulfur dioxide gas
[60].  Concentrations of heavy metals due to air pollution have been
determined for fruit, stems, and leaves [126].

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Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

There are no known varieties of bearberry available; local or regional selections are available from commercial nurseries.

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This shrub species requires very little maintenance once it has been established. Annual spring applications of 10-10-10 will increase the growth rate of bearberry, but will also increase weed growth. Weed growth must be controlled to sustain healthy stands of bearberry.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Uses: Fruit, Beverage (non-alcoholic), MEDICINE/DRUG, Pharmaceutical

Comments: BLACKFOOT: leaves dried and mixed with tobacco. berries eaten raw or preserved. MENOMINI: seasoner for "female remedies"; dried leaves used as a diuretic, tonic, astringent. useful for inflamed urinary diseases. for bronchitis, diarrhea, leucorrhea, amenorrhea and uterine hemorrhages. powdered dry leaves used as a substitute for, or mixed with, tobacco. KUTENAI: berries boiled for emergency food (left on shrubs, not stored). WY, MN, MO, OR, BC: fruit eaten raw or cooked, or dried, ground and made into bread or mush; also used for seasoning meats. fruit = good source of vitamin C, used raw or as a sauce or jam. leaf = tobacco substitute, used as a tea for urinary tract inflammation

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Other uses and values

More info for the terms: cover, layering

Smoking the leaves as a tobacco substitute is the most widely mentioned
human use of kinnikinnick.  However, medical uses of kinnikinnick leaves were
recognized by early Romans, Native Americans, and settlers [54,95,142].
At the present, kinnikinnick leaves are used medicinally in Poland and many
other countries [46].  The most important medical use of the leaves is
for treating urinary tract disease.  They can also be used to make a
highly astringent wash and as a vasoconstrictor for the endometrium of
the uterus [46,54,79,95].  Some Native American tribes powdered the
leaves and applied them to sores [54].  For medical use the leaves are
best collected in the fall [46].

The berrylike drupes have dry, insipid, and tasteless flesh when raw but
are useful emergency food [53,54,142].  Native Americans fried them or
dried them and used them in pemmican [54].  The fruit is also used in
jelly, jam, and sauces [53].  In Scandinavia, kinnikinnick is used
commercially to tan leather [79].

Kinnikinnick is an attractive and excellent garden ground cover on sunny,
sandy banks, along roadways, rock walls, rockeries, parking strips, and
other sunny places in urban areas [73,128].  It withstands low summer
moisture; some forms will withstand salt spray, grow very slowly, or
grow under semishady conditions [73,128].  Branches with fruit are used
for fall and Christmas decorations [53].  Kinnikinnick plants are available
in nurseries [11,119].  Propagation by layering or rooted cuttings is
easy and well described [46,73,128].

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Cover Value

More info for the term: cover

Kinnikinnick has little or no cover value for most game animals but may
have fair cover value for upland game birds in Colorado and Utah.  It
offers fair to good cover for small mammals and small nongame birds
[30]. 

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Nutritional Value

More info for the term: cover

The energy and protein values of kinnikinnick browse are low [30].  Results
of a nutrient study in stands of sapling and pole-sized ponderosa pine
in the Black Hills of South Dakota showed no trends in the nutrients
sampled relative to stocking (shade) levels that ranged from 0 (0 m2/ha
basal area) to unthinned (40 m2/ha basal area) [124].  Production
decreases when crown cover exceeds 40 percent [105].  Average
percentages of the six nutrients studied for kinnikinnick forage are given
below [124]:

Attribute                    Pole Stands              Sapling Stands
                          Mean  Standard Error     Mean  Standard Error
Crude Protein              5.5       0.1            5.7       0.1
Acid Detergent Fiber      25.8       0.6           26.8       0.1
Acid Detergent Lignin     12.6       0.3           13.3       0.2
Ash                        3.15      0.55           3.08      0.09
Calcium                    0.63      0.01           0.60      0.01
Phosphorus                 0.14      0.01           0.14      0.01

A similar nutrient study done previously in the Black Hills gave the
percent composition by season [45]:

Attribute               Oct. 1      Jan. 1     April 1     July 1  
Carotene (micrograms
 per gram)               18.67       10.86      31.97       38.10
Moisture                 47.54       49.11      36.65       60.81
Ash                       1.93        2.01       2.27        1.66
Crude Fat                 5.97        4.88       8.28        4.72
Crude Fiber               9.00        8.29       9.18        6.22
Crude Protein             2.70        2.55       2.98        3.30
N-Free Extract           32.86       33.16      40.63       23.29
Phosphorus                0.064       0.067      0.09        0.08
Calcium                   0.39        0.60       0.52        0.22
Iron (ppm)              270.75      309.28     236.51      173.70
Manganese (ppm)          12.38       13.36      20.91       16.29

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Palatability

Kinnikinnick is unpalatable to domestic livestock but relished by wildlife
[49].  It is palatable to white-tailed deer in the Black Hills of South
Dakota from fall to late spring [58].  Kinnikinnick fruits are relished and
highly important to black bear in the Yukon [84].  The fruit is of
moderate importance to grizzly bear in Montana [83].  The degree of use
shown by livestock and wildlife species for kinnikinnick is rated as
follows [30]:

                         CO      MT      UT      WY      ND
Cattle                  poor    poor    poor    poor    poor
Sheep                   poor    poor    poor    poor    poor
Horses                  poor    poor    poor    poor    poor
Pronghorn               ----    ----    poor    poor    poor
Elk                     fair    poor    poor    poor    ----
Mule deer               fair    fair    poor    fair    fair
White-tailed deer       ----    fair    ----    fair    fair
Small mammals           good    fair    good    good   
Small nongame birds     good    fair    fair    fair   
Upland game birds       good    fair    good    good   
Waterfowl               ----    ----    poor    poor   

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

Kinnikinnick browse is of moderate importance to bighorn sheep, mountain
goat, black-tailed deer, and white-tailed deer [9,142].  Kinnikinnick is
important to moderately important browse for Rocky Mountain mule deer
[9,24,75].  Elk browse it on winter ranges in Alberta [148].  During
early spring in Montana, moose browse kinnikinnick in snowfree areas near
trees on south and west aspects [133].

Since kinnikinnick's low-quality fruit spoils slowly, it lasts through
winter and is available when other fruits are gone [134].  The fruits of
kinnikinnick are eaten by songbirds, gamebirds, including five species of
grouse and wild turkey, deer, elk, and small mammals [49,89,134,148].
Black bear and grizzly bear eat kinnikinnick fruits in the autumn, but
fruits are especially important to bears in the early spring
[55,83,84,148].  In Montana, grouse may be attracted to very recent
burns by fire-exposed kinnikinnick fruit [68].

Hummingbirds take nectar from the flowers of kinnikinnick and have been
observed to alight momentarily to probe low flowers [108]. 

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Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

Kinnikinnick is very useful in erosion control plantings and attractive
along highway embankments [11,73,118,148].  It is recommended for
revegetation projects on well-drained soils in Alaska and moist to dry
sites in most of Alberta.  It is well suited to coarse-textured soils
that are low in nutrients.  Kinnikinnick can be aggressive on open sites and
may invade disturbed sites vegetatively [148].  Its potential is better
as a long-term revegetative species than as a short-term revegatative
species because its growth rate is moderate [30,148].  Growth is good on
gentle to steep sites [30].

Stem cuttings taken in the fall are described as the best method of
establishment [11,63,148].  Kinnikinnick roots normally form
endomycorrhizae, and cuttings can be inoculated with endomycorrhizal
fungi prior to rooting [99].  Propagation by root cuttings has been done
successfully [63].  Good seed crops occur at 1- to 5-year intervals.
Seedling establishment is difficult and time consuming
[11,30,46,146,148].  Details on seed cleaning, stratification,
scarification, and germination as well as culture are well known and
described [11,46,142,146,148].  Seed is available commercially [148].

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Uses

Bearberry serves a dual role on sandy soils, as both a beautification plant as well as a critical area stabilizer. The thick, prostrate, vegetative mat and evergreen character are what make bearberry a very popular ground cover. It is often planted around home sites, sand dunes, sandy banks, and commercial sites. The fruit it produces is eaten by a few species of songbirds and game animals. Deer will sometimes browse the foliage lightly.

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Wikipedia

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi flowers
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi subsp. uva-ursi fruit

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is a plant species of the genus Arctostaphylos (manzanita). Its common names include kinnikinnick and pinemat manzanita, and it is one of several related species referred to as bearberry.[1]

Distribution[edit]

The distribution of Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is circumpolar, and it is widespread in northern latitudes, but confined to high altitudes further south:

In some areas the plant is endangered or has been extirpated from its native range. In other areas, such as the Cascade Range, it is abundant.

Description[edit]

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is a small procumbent woody groundcover shrub 5–30 cm high. The leaves are evergreen, remaining green for 1–3 years before falling. The fruit is a red berry.

The leaves are shiny, small, and feel thick and stiff. They are alternately arranged on the stems. Undersides of leaves are lighter green than on the tops. New stems can be red if the plant is in full sun, but are green in shadier areas. Older stems are brown. In spring, they have white or pink flowers.

Pure stands of Arctostaphylos uva-ursi can be extremely dense, with heights rarely taller than 6 inches. Erect branching twigs emerge from long flexible prostrate stems, which are produced by single roots. The trailing stems will layer, sending out small roots periodically. The finely textured velvety branches are initially white to pale green, becoming smooth and red-brown with maturity. The small solitary three scaled buds are dark brown.

The simple leaves of this broadleaf evergreen are alternately arranged on branches. Each leaf is held by a twisted leaf stalk, vertically. The leathery dark green leaves are an inch long and have rounded tips tapering back to the base. In fall, the leaves begin changing from a dark green to a reddish-green to purple.

Terminal clusters of small urn-shaped flowers bloom from May to June. The perfect flowers are white to pink, and bear round, fleshy or mealy, bright red to pink fruits called drupes. This smooth, glossy skinned fruit will range from 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter. The fruit will persist on the plant into early winter. Each drupe contains 1 to 5 hard seeds, which need to be scarified and stratified prior to germination to reduce the seed coat and break embryo dormancy. There is an average of 40,900 cleaned seeds per pound.[2]

Subspecies[edit]

There are at least five reported subspecies:

  • Arctostaphylos uva-ursi subsp. uva-ursi. Common bearberry; circumpolar arctic and subarctic, and in mountains further south.
  • Arctostaphylos uva-ursi subsp. adenotricha. Central high Sierra Nevada.
  • Arctostaphylos uva-ursi subsp. coactilis. North coastal California, central coast California, San Francisco Bay Area.
  • Arctostaphylos uva-ursi subsp. cratericola (J. D. Smith) P. V. Wells. Guatemala bearberry, endemic to Guatemala at very high altitudes (3000–4000 m).
  • Arctostaphylos uva-ursi subsp. longifoliosa. Various reports from Canada, U.S.A.[3] May be the same as adenotricha or coactilis.

Sources do not agree on the list of subspecies, so some of these may be identical, or may be separate species rather than subspecies. See bearberry and manzanita. For a list of reported North American subspecies and varietals see USDA Plants Profile in External Links below. For a complete list of related plants see Arctostaphylos. ***Further research needed to clarify botanical classification***.

Uses[edit]

Medicinal[edit]

Bearberry has historically been used for medicinal purposes. It contains the glycoside arbutin, which has antimicrobial properties and acts as a mild diuretic. It has been used for urinary tract complaints, including cystitis and urolithiasis. An infusion may be made by soaking the leaves in ethanol and then diluting with water.[4] In the 19th century before the introduction of sulfa drugs and modern antibiotics, it was among the few herbal drugs with antibacterial properties, but some constituents, such as the hydroquinones are hepatotoxic, and in cases of urinary tract infections, more pertinent treatment options are recommended.[5]

Smoking[edit]

Bearberry is the main component in many traditional North American Native smoking mixes,[6] known collectively as "kinnikinnick" (Algonquin for a mixture). Bearberry is used especially amongst western First Nations, often including other herbs and sometimes tobacco. Some historical reports indicate a "narcotic" or stimulant effect,[7] but since it is almost always smoked with other herbs, including tobacco, it is not clear what psychotropic effects may be due to it alone. For a full discussion of Amerindian smoking mixtures see kinnikinnick.

Cultivation[edit]

There are several cultivars that are propagated for use as ornamental plants. It is an attractive evergreen plant in gardens, and it is also useful for controlling erosion.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Casebeer, M. (2004). Discover California Shrubs. Sonora, California: Hooker Press. ISBN 0-9665463-1-8
  2. ^ http://plants.usda.gov/factsheet/pdf/fs_aruv.pdf
  3. ^ Elven, Reidar (editor-in-chief): Pan-arctic Flora
  4. ^ Grieve, M.: Botanical.com - A Modern Herbal
  5. ^ Uva Ursi (Bearberry) University of Maryland Medical Center retrieved July 29, 2013.
  6. ^ Moerman, Daniel E.: "Arctostaphylos uva-ursi" in Native American ethnobotany, pages 87–88. ISBN 0-88192-453-9.
  7. ^ "''Psychotropia: The Psychoactive Database''". Psychotropia.co. 2011-02-08. Retrieved 2012-10-16. 
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

The currently accepted scientific name of kinnikinnick is Arctostaphylos
uva-ursi (L.) Spreng [59,67]. The following forms are recognized
[117,149]:

A. u. forma adenotricha (Fern. & Macbr.) Wells
A. u. forma coactilis (Fern. & Macbr.) Wells
A. u. forma longipilosa (Packer & Denford) Wells
A. u. forma stipitata (Packer & Denford) Wells
A. u. forma uva-ursi

Kinnikinnick hybridizes with hairy manzanita (A. columbiana) to produce A.
Xmedia Greene [59,73]. It occasionally hybridizes with greenleaf
manzanita (A. patula) [150].

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Common Names

kinnikinnick
bearberry

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