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Overview

Brief Summary

It's not hard to guess where this plant got its name from. Crows, together with curlews, doves, pheasants and gulls, like to eat the berries of this plant. The shiny black berries are edible for people however don't have much flavor. Even grazing animals don't eat crowberry. The plants are either male or female. Once they get berries, it's easy to see which ones are female. However, you can also distinguish the sex if you are fortunate to spot the tiny flowers in early spring. Male plants have pink flowers while female plants have darker purple to red flowers.
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Distribution

National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

United States

Origin: Unknown/Undetermined

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Black crowberry is distributed throughout Alaska, across the Yukon
Territory and Canada to Labrador, Newfoundland, and Greenland. It
occurs south through New England and the Great Lakes states, as well as
along the Pacific Coast to northern California. Black crowberry also
has a wide distribution throughout Europe [38,42,47].
  • 38. Roland, A. E.; Smith, E. C. 1969. The flora of Nova Scotia. Halifax, NS: Nova Scotia Museum. 746 p. [13158]
  • 42. Soper, James H.; Heimburger, Margaret L. 1982. Shrubs of Ontario. Life Sciences Misc. Publ. Toronto, ON: Royal Ontario Museum. 495 p. [12907]
  • 47. Viereck, Leslie A.; Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1972. Alaska trees and shrubs. Agric. Handb. 410. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 265 p. [6884]

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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

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Occurrence in North America

AK CA ME MA MI MN NH NY OR VT
WA WI AB BC LB MB NB NF NT NS
ON PQ SK YT

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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Empetrum nigrum fo. nigrum :
Canada (North America)
United States (North America)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
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© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63110 USA

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Localities documented in Tropicos sources

Empetrum nigrum L.:
Canada (North America)
United States (North America)
China (Asia)
Russian Federation (Asia)
Mongolia (Asia)
Japan (Asia)
South Korea (Asia)

Note: This information is based on publications available through Tropicos and may not represent the entire distribution. Tropicos does not categorize distributions as native or non-native.
Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 3.0 (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)

© Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Boulevard, St. Louis, MO 63110 USA

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the term: shrub

Black crowberry is a low, creeping evergreen shrub that generally
reaches 6 inches (15 cm) in height and often forms dense mats. The
leaves are linear to elliptic, and the lower surface is grooved to
reduce evapotranspiration in harsh climates. Black crowberry has
inconspicuous purple flowers [2,13,47,49].

Young black crowberry plants have a strong primary root, but as the
plants age, a shallow root system with many lateral roots develops [5].
  • 13. Fernald, Merritt Lyndon. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. [Corrections supplied by R. C. Rollins]
  • 49. Voss, Edward G. 1972. Michigan flora. Part I. Gymnosperms and monocots. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science; Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Herbarium. 488 p. [11471]
  • 2. Anderson, J. P. 1959. Flora of Alaska and adjacent parts of Canada. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press. 543 p. [9928]
  • 5. Bell, J. N. B.; Tallis, J. H. 1973. Biological flora of the British Isles: Empertrum nigrum L. Journal of Ecology. 61: 289-305. [25083]
  • 47. Viereck, Leslie A.; Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1972. Alaska trees and shrubs. Agric. Handb. 410. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 265 p. [6884]

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat characteristics

Black crowberry is found from sea level to alpine zones. It occurs in a
wide variety of habitats including sphagnum bogs or muskegs, open
tundra, rockfields, conifer forests, coastal bluffs, and exposed sea
cliffs [3,38,47,49]. Black crowberry is tolerant of a wide range of
soil moisture conditions, but is intolerant of prolonged water logging,
and on wet sites it is found in better drained areas [5]. Black
crowberry is adapted to harsh climates and it often inhabits sites
exposed to wind, fog, and salt aerosals. Site characteristics influence
black crowberry morphology: on sites with high wind exposure, black
crowberry is branched and prostrate; on wet sites it is sparsely
branched and has long annual growth increments; on dry sites it has
branching shoots and is bushy [5].

Black crowberry is found in sandy to rocky soils, glacial till, and
alluvial deposits [8,42]. Soil pH ranges from 2.5 to 7.7 [5]. Black
crowberry establishes itself on mineral soils and stagnant surfaces that
are nutrient enriched [7] but is also classified as an indicator of
nitrogen-poor soils [22].
  • 49. Voss, Edward G. 1972. Michigan flora. Part I. Gymnosperms and monocots. Bloomfield Hills, MI: Cranbrook Institute of Science; Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Herbarium. 488 p. [11471]
  • 22. Klinka, K.; Krajina, V. J.; Ceska, A.; Scagel, A. M. 1989. Indicator plants of coastal British Columbia. Vancouver, BC: University of British Columbia Press. 288 p. [10703]
  • 3. Argus, George W. 1966. Botanical investigations in northeastern Saskatchewan: the subarctic Patterson-Hasbala Lakes region. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 80(3): 119-143. [8406]
  • 5. Bell, J. N. B.; Tallis, J. H. 1973. Biological flora of the British Isles: Empertrum nigrum L. Journal of Ecology. 61: 289-305. [25083]
  • 7. Damman, A. W. H. 1977. Geographical changes in the vegetation pattern of raised bogs in the Bay of Fundy region of Maine and New Brunswick. Vegetatio. 35(3): 137-151. [10158]
  • 8. Douglas, George W. 1974. Montane zone vegetation of the Alsek River region, southwestern Yukon. Canadian Journal of Botany. 52: 2505-2532. [17283]
  • 38. Roland, A. E.; Smith, E. C. 1969. The flora of Nova Scotia. Halifax, NS: Nova Scotia Museum. 746 p. [13158]
  • 42. Soper, James H.; Heimburger, Margaret L. 1982. Shrubs of Ontario. Life Sciences Misc. Publ. Toronto, ON: Royal Ontario Museum. 495 p. [12907]
  • 47. Viereck, Leslie A.; Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1972. Alaska trees and shrubs. Agric. Handb. 410. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 265 p. [6884]

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Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the terms: bog, codominant, peatland, shrubs

Black crowberry is a dominant or codominant in a variety of different
habitats. It may occur as an understory dominant in open conifer
woodlands with black spruce (Picea mariana), white spruce (P. glauca),
or shore pine (Pinus contorta var. contorta). Black crowberry can
dominate shrub-types with dwarf birch (Betula nana), willow (Salix
spp.), and ericaceous shrubs in bogs or muskegs and on open, moist
tundra [1,8,33,37,46].

Other commonly associated species include: paper birch (Betula
papyrifera), quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), Alaska cedar
(Chamaecyparis nootkatensis), bog birch (Betula glandulosa), Labrador
tea (Ledum glandulosum and L. groenlandicum), various Vaccinium and
Carex species, feathermosses (Hylocomium spp. and Pleurozium spp.),
lichens (Cladonia spp. and Cladina spp.), and sphagnum mosses.

Published classification schemes listing black crowberry as a major
component of plant associations (pas), community types (cts), or
vegetation types (vts) are as follows:

AREA CLASSIFICATION AUTHORITY

AK gen. veg. pas Viereck & Dyrness 1980
Kenai Peninsula, AK vts Reynolds 1990
Canadian Rocky Mtns. old growth cts Achuff 1989
NF peatland pas Pollett 1972
sw YT cts Douglas 1974
  • 1. Achuff, Peter L. 1989. Old-growth forests of the Canadian Rocky Mountain national parks. Natural Areas Journal. 9(1): 12-26. [7442]
  • 8. Douglas, George W. 1974. Montane zone vegetation of the Alsek River region, southwestern Yukon. Canadian Journal of Botany. 52: 2505-2532. [17283]
  • 33. Pollett, Frederick C. 1972. Classification of peatlands in Newfoundland. In: Proceedings, 4th International Peat Congress. 1: 101-110. [15403]
  • 37. Reynolds, Keith M. 1990. Preliminary classification of forest vegetation of the Kenai Penninsula, Alaska. Res. Pap. PNW-RP-424. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 67 p. [14581]
  • 46. Viereck, L. A.; Dyrness, C. T.; Batten, A. R.; Wenzlick, K. J. 1992. The Alaska vegetation classification. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-286. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 278 p. [2431]

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Habitat: Plant Associations

More info on this topic.

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

K001 Spruce - cedar - hemlock forest
K002 Cedar - hemlock - Douglas-fir forest
K003 Silver fir - Douglas-fir forest
K004 Fir - hemlock forest
K008 Lodgepole pine - subalpine forest
K012 Douglas-fir forest
K015 Western spruce - fir forest
K052 Alpine meadows and barren
K093 Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
K094 Conifer bog
K095 Great Lakes pine forest
K096 Northeastern spruce - fir forest
K108 Northern hardwoods - spruce 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
FRES19 Aspen - birch
FRES20 Douglas-fir
FRES23 Fir - spruce
FRES24 Hemlock - Sitka spruce
FRES26 Lodgepole pine
FRES44 Alpine

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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
5 Balsam fir
12 Black spruce
13 Black spruce - tamarack
16 Aspen
18 Paper birch
38 Tamarack
107 White spruce
201 White spruce
202 White spruce - paper birch
204 Black spruce
205 Mountain hemlock
206 Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir
218 Lodgepole pine
223 Sitka spruce
224 Western hemlock
225 Western hemlock - Sitka spruce
226 Coastal true fir - hemlock
227 Western redcedar - western hemlock
228 Western redcedar
229 Pacific Douglas-fir
230 Douglas-fir - western hemlock
253 Black spruce - white spruce
254 Black spruce - paper birch

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Associations

Foodplant / parasite
Glomospora empetri parasitises living leaf of Empetrum nigrum ssp. nigrum

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Foodplant / pathogen
apothecium of Arwidssonia empetri infects and damages dead, attached leaf of Empetrum nigrum

Foodplant / saprobe
epiphyllous, scattered perithecium of Botryosphaeria hyperborea is saprobic on dead, attached leaf of Empetrum nigrum

Foodplant / parasite
epiphyllous uredium of Chrysomyxa empetri parasitises live leaf of Empetrum nigrum
Remarks: season: 7-10

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / parasite
Hysterodiscula coelomycetous anamorph of Duplicaria empetri parasitises live Empetrum nigrum

Plant / associate
fruitbody of Hygrocybe lilacina is associated with live Empetrum nigrum

Foodplant / mycorrhiza / endomycorrhiza
mycelium of Oidiodendron maius is endomycorrhizal with live root of Empetrum nigrum

Foodplant / saprobe
erumpent apothecium of Phaeangellina empetri is saprobic on dead, attached leaf of Empetrum nigrum
Remarks: season: 6-9

Foodplant / saprobe
epiphyllous, scattered perithecium of Physalospora empetri is saprobic on dead, attached leaf of Empetrum nigrum

Foodplant / pathogen
Phytophthora kernoviae infects and damages Empetrum nigrum

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General Ecology

Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: cover, frequency

Black crowberry is slow to recover following fire [5,48,50]. In
Labrador, black crowberry decreased significantly in frequency and
abundance following fire. Preburn frequency was 61 percent, while
postburn frequency was 0 percent after 5 years [14]. It also showed
little or no recovery in 2- or 7 year-old burns in the Seward Peninsula,
Alaska [35]. In the Wickersham Dome Fire near Fairbanks, Alaska, black
crowberry in black spruce stands responded differently in lightly and
heavily burned areas. In the lightly burned sites, percent cover was
1.4, 1.1, 0.9, and 1.25 in postfire years 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively.
However, in the heavily burned sites, black crowberry cover was 0
percent in the 4 years immediately following the fire [46].
  • 5. Bell, J. N. B.; Tallis, J. H. 1973. Biological flora of the British Isles: Empertrum nigrum L. Journal of Ecology. 61: 289-305. [25083]
  • 14. Foster, David R. 1985. Vegetation development following fire in Picea mariana (black spruce) - Pleurozium forests of south-eastern Labrador, Canada. Journal of Ecology. 73: 517-534. [7222]
  • 35. Racine, Charles H. 1981. Tundra fire effects on soils and three plant communities along a hill-slope gradient in the Seward Peninsula, Alaska. Arctic. 34(1): 71-84. [7233]
  • 46. Viereck, L. A.; Dyrness, C. T.; Batten, A. R.; Wenzlick, K. J. 1992. The Alaska vegetation classification. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-GTR-286. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 278 p. [2431]
  • 48. Viereck, Leslie A.; Schandelmeier, Linda A. 1980. Effects of fire in Alaska and adjacent Canada--a literature review. BLM-Alaska Tech. Rep. 6. Anchorage, AK: U.S. Department of the Interior, Bureau of Land Mangement, Alaska State Office. 124 p. [7075]
  • 50. Wein, R. W. 1974. Recovery of vegetation in arctic regions after burning. Rep. 74-6. Ottawa, ON: Canadian Task Force on Northern Oil Development. 41 p. [13001]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

Fire top-kills black crowberry; moderate or severe fires also readily
kill underground parts close to the soil surface [14,35].
  • 14. Foster, David R. 1985. Vegetation development following fire in Picea mariana (black spruce) - Pleurozium forests of south-eastern Labrador, Canada. Journal of Ecology. 73: 517-534. [7222]
  • 35. Racine, Charles H. 1981. Tundra fire effects on soils and three plant communities along a hill-slope gradient in the Seward Peninsula, Alaska. Arctic. 34(1): 71-84. [7233]

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the terms: caudex, root crown

survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex
off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2

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Fire Ecology

More info for the term: fuel

Black crowberry generally occurs in communities with long fire intervals
or in communities that lack the dry fuel to sustain a fire [7,24,45].
Low growth form and small stems make black crowberry liable to top-kill
by fire. Belowground parts are also very susceptible to fire damage
because most of them are located near the soil surface [14,35].
Postfire seedlings may arise from seed banks but are not a regular
occurrence [24]. Black crowberry can regenerate vegetatively following
fire [5,20,39], but this process is slow. Normal or prefire densities
may not be reached for 20 to 30 years [24].
  • 5. Bell, J. N. B.; Tallis, J. H. 1973. Biological flora of the British Isles: Empertrum nigrum L. Journal of Ecology. 61: 289-305. [25083]
  • 7. Damman, A. W. H. 1977. Geographical changes in the vegetation pattern of raised bogs in the Bay of Fundy region of Maine and New Brunswick. Vegetatio. 35(3): 137-151. [10158]
  • 14. Foster, David R. 1985. Vegetation development following fire in Picea mariana (black spruce) - Pleurozium forests of south-eastern Labrador, Canada. Journal of Ecology. 73: 517-534. [7222]
  • 20. Johnson, E. A. 1975. Buried seed populations in the subarctic forest east of Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories. Canadian Journal of Botany. 53: 2933-2941. [6466]
  • 24. Lutz, H. J. 1956. Ecological effects of forest fires in the interior of Alaska. Tech. Bull. No. 1133. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 121 p. [7653]
  • 35. Racine, Charles H. 1981. Tundra fire effects on soils and three plant communities along a hill-slope gradient in the Seward Peninsula, Alaska. Arctic. 34(1): 71-84. [7233]
  • 39. Rowe, J. S. 1983. Concepts of fire effects on plant individuals and species. In: Wein, Ross W.; MacLean, David A., eds. SCOPE 18: The role of fire in northern circumpolar ecosystems. Chichester; New York: John Wiley & Sons: 135-154. [2038]
  • 45. Viereck, Leslie A. 1982. Effects of fire and firelines on active layer thickness and soil temperatures in interior Alaska. In: Proceedings, 4th Canadian permafrost conference; 1981 March 2-6; Calgary, AB. The Roger J.E. Brown Memorial Volume. Ottawa, ON: National Research Council of Canada: 123-135. [7303]

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the term: climax

Black crowberry is a pioneer on sandy blowouts, dry, lichen-covered
depressions on eskers [3], and in avalanche areas [30]. However, it is
more often associated with late seral or climax communities,
particularily white or black spruce types [8,24,45]. Black crowberry is
common and abundant in old forests that have had no recent fires [14].
  • 3. Argus, George W. 1966. Botanical investigations in northeastern Saskatchewan: the subarctic Patterson-Hasbala Lakes region. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 80(3): 119-143. [8406]
  • 8. Douglas, George W. 1974. Montane zone vegetation of the Alsek River region, southwestern Yukon. Canadian Journal of Botany. 52: 2505-2532. [17283]
  • 14. Foster, David R. 1985. Vegetation development following fire in Picea mariana (black spruce) - Pleurozium forests of south-eastern Labrador, Canada. Journal of Ecology. 73: 517-534. [7222]
  • 24. Lutz, H. J. 1956. Ecological effects of forest fires in the interior of Alaska. Tech. Bull. No. 1133. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 121 p. [7653]
  • 30. Meehan, William R. 1974. The forest ecosystem of southeast Alaska: 4. Wildlife habitats. Gen. Tech. Rep. PNW-16. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Forest and Range Experiment Station. 32 p. [13479]
  • 45. Viereck, Leslie A. 1982. Effects of fire and firelines on active layer thickness and soil temperatures in interior Alaska. In: Proceedings, 4th Canadian permafrost conference; 1981 March 2-6; Calgary, AB. The Roger J.E. Brown Memorial Volume. Ottawa, ON: National Research Council of Canada: 123-135. [7303]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the terms: adventitious, monoecious, polygamous

Sexual reproduction: Black crowberry is classified as polygamous,
dioecious, or monoecious. The dark-blue to black fruit is a drupe
containing six to nine nutlets [2,13,18]. Seeds are dispersed by birds
and animals [20]. Some seeds may become established under the parent,
but seedling mortality is generally high [5]. Black crowberry seeds
have been found buried beneath the soil, although only a small percent
of the seeds are actually viable [20,32]. Seeds were found in 71
percent of soil cores taken from plots near Great Slave Lake, Northwest
Territories [20].

Vegetative reproduction: Sprouting from underground or basal portions
is the main form of reproduction of black crowberry [5,20,39]. In
addition, adventitious roots form where procumbent branches come in
contact with the ground [5].
  • 13. Fernald, Merritt Lyndon. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. [Corrections supplied by R. C. Rollins]
  • 2. Anderson, J. P. 1959. Flora of Alaska and adjacent parts of Canada. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press. 543 p. [9928]
  • 5. Bell, J. N. B.; Tallis, J. H. 1973. Biological flora of the British Isles: Empertrum nigrum L. Journal of Ecology. 61: 289-305. [25083]
  • 18. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1964. Vascular plants of the Pacific Northwest. Part 2: Salicaceae to Saxifragaceae. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 597 p. [1166]
  • 20. Johnson, E. A. 1975. Buried seed populations in the subarctic forest east of Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories. Canadian Journal of Botany. 53: 2933-2941. [6466]
  • 32. Morin, Hubert; Payette, Serge. 1988. Buried seed populations in the montane, subalpine, and alpine belts of Mont Jacques-Cartier, Quebec. Canadian Journal of Botany. 66: 101-107. [6376]
  • 39. Rowe, J. S. 1983. Concepts of fire effects on plant individuals and species. In: Wein, Ross W.; MacLean, David A., eds. SCOPE 18: The role of fire in northern circumpolar ecosystems. Chichester; New York: John Wiley & Sons: 135-154. [2038]

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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.

More info for the term: cover

Flowering occurs in spring in areas of early snowmelt and continues
through July. Fruits mature from August to late fall and persist
through the winter under snow cover [18,32,42,47].
  • 18. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1964. Vascular plants of the Pacific Northwest. Part 2: Salicaceae to Saxifragaceae. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 597 p. [1166]
  • 32. Morin, Hubert; Payette, Serge. 1988. Buried seed populations in the montane, subalpine, and alpine belts of Mont Jacques-Cartier, Quebec. Canadian Journal of Botany. 66: 101-107. [6376]
  • 42. Soper, James H.; Heimburger, Margaret L. 1982. Shrubs of Ontario. Life Sciences Misc. Publ. Toronto, ON: Royal Ontario Museum. 495 p. [12907]
  • 47. Viereck, Leslie A.; Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1972. Alaska trees and shrubs. Agric. Handb. 410. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 265 p. [6884]

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage: Empetrum nigrum subsp hermaphroditum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 2
Specimens with Barcodes: 2
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Empetrum nigrum

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 21
Specimens with Barcodes: 57
Species With Barcodes: 1
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 (CC BY 3.0)

© Barcode of Life Data Systems

Source: Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD)

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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N4 - Apparently Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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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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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: T4 - Apparently Secure

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Management

Management considerations

More info for the term: cover

Black crowberry can be grown from stem cuttings and has been used as
ground cover in rough, low areas in interior Alaska [47].

Black crowberry showed no signs of recovery 2 years after clearcutting
and subsequent burning near Fairbanks, Alaska [9]. Three years after
defoliation, black crowberry in barren-ground caribou forage areas had
not recovered [31].
  • 9. Dyrness, C. T.; Viereck, L. A.; Foote, M. J.; Zasada, J. C. 1988. The effect on vegetation and soil temperature of logging flood-plain white spruce. Res. Pap. PNW-RP-392. Portland, OR: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station. 45 p. [7471]
  • 31. Miller, Donald R. 1976. Taiga winter range relationships and diet. Canadian Wildlife Service Rep. Series No. 36. Ottawa, ON: Environment Canada, Wildlife Service. 42 p. (Biology of the Kaminuriak population of barren-ground caribou; pt 3). [13007]
  • 47. Viereck, Leslie A.; Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1972. Alaska trees and shrubs. Agric. Handb. 410. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 265 p. [6884]

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Value for rehabilitation of disturbed sites

More info for the terms: reclamation, tundra

Black crowberry has been broadly successful at naturally colonizing
borrow pits in the tundra regions of northwestern Canada, and may be of
use in managed reclamation projects [21]. Black crowberry has followed
cottongrass (Eriophorum spissum) in the colonization of mined peatlands,
but only after decades have elapsed [12]. Dense black crowberry mats
catch blowing soils in areas of high wind exposure, and its interlocking
roots may help stabilize the steep, rocky slopes it often inhabits.

Black crowberry could not be established by seed on test plots in
simulated pipeline trenches near Fort Norman, Northwest Territories
[29].
  • 21. Kershaw, G. Peter; Kershaw, Linda J. 1987. Successful plant colonizers on disturbances in tundra areas of northwestern Canada. Arctic and Alpine Research. 19(4): 451-460. [6115]
  • 12. Famous, Norman C.; Spencer, M. 1989. Revegetation patterns in mined peatlands in central and eastern North America studied. Restoration and Management Notes. 7(2): 95-96. [10171]
  • 29. Maslen, Lynn; Kershaw, G. Peter. 1989. First year results of revegetation trials using selected native plant species on a simulated pipeline trench, Fort Norman, N.W.T., Canada. In: Walker, D. G.; Powter, C. B.; Pole, M. W., compilers. Reclamation, a global perspective: Proceedings of the conference; 1989 August 27-31; Calgary, AB. Rep. No. RRTAC 89-2. Vol. 1. Edmonton, AB: Alberta Land Conservation and Reclamation Council: 81-90. [14363]

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Cover Value

More info for the term: cover

Dense mats of black crowberry probably provide cover for small rodents
and mammals.

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Other uses and values

Black crowberry fruits are used, but usually mixed with other berries,
in pies or jellies. In the winter, Native Americans gather the
persistant berries buried beneath the snow [19,47].
  • 19. Hulten, Eric. 1968. Flora of Alaska and neighboring territories. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 1008 p. [13403]
  • 47. Viereck, Leslie A.; Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1972. Alaska trees and shrubs. Agric. Handb. 410. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 265 p. [6884]

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

Black crowberry fruits are utilized as fall and winter forage by over 40
species of songbirds, waterfowl, and upland game birds [27,28,44,47].
The berries are especially important to grouse and ptarmigan [10,27,47].

Black crowberry seeds are a major component of the red-backed vole's
fall diet [51].

Big game animals that browse black crowberry foliage include reindeer,
caribou, and bear [4,17,41]. Bear also eat the berries, so black
crowberry utilization by bear increases in summer as fruits become ripe.
Occurrence of black crowberry fruits in bear scat samples increased from
5.9 percent in early spring to 12.9 percent by late summer [26].
  • 4. Banfield, A. W. F.; Tener, J. S. 1958. A preliminary study of the Ungava caribou. Journal of Mammalogy. 39(4): 560-573. [12994]
  • 10. Ellison, Laurence. 1966. Seasonal foods and chemical analysis of winter diet of Alaskan spruce grouse. Journal of Wildlife Management. 30(4): 729-735. [9735]
  • 17. Henry, G. H. R.; Gunn, A. 1991. Recovery of tundra vegetation after overgrazing by caribou in arctic Canada. Arctic. 44(1): 38-42. [14747]
  • 26. MacHutchon, A. Grant. 1989. Spring and summer food habits of black bears in the Pelly River Valley, Yukon. Northwest Science. 63(3): 116-118. [12249]
  • 27. Martell, Arthur M.; Dickinson, Dawn M.; Casselman, Lisa M. 1984. Wildlife of the Mackenzie Delta region. Occasional Publ. No. 15. Edmonton, AB: The University of Alberta, Boreal Institute for Northern Studies. 214 p. [15014]
  • 28. Martin, Alexander C.; Zim, Herbert S.; Nelson, Arnold L. 1951. American wildlife and plants. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 500 p. [4021]
  • 41. Scotter, George W. 1967. The winter diet of barren-ground caribou in northern Canada. Canadian Field-Naturalist. 81: 33-39. [16672]
  • 44. Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States, their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture. 362 p. [4240]
  • 47. Viereck, Leslie A.; Little, Elbert L., Jr. 1972. Alaska trees and shrubs. Agric. Handb. 410. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 265 p. [6884]
  • 51. West, Stephen D. 1982. Dynamics of colonization and abundance in central Alaskan populations of the northern red-backed vole, Clethrionomys rutilus. Journal of Mammalogy. 63(1): 128-143. [7300]

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Nutritional Value

Black crowberry in barren-ground caribou forage areas consists of 6.27
percent protein and releases energy in the amount of 5.51 kilocalories
per gram [31]

Digestibility of black crowberry has been classified as low [40].
  • 31. Miller, Donald R. 1976. Taiga winter range relationships and diet. Canadian Wildlife Service Rep. Series No. 36. Ottawa, ON: Environment Canada, Wildlife Service. 42 p. (Biology of the Kaminuriak population of barren-ground caribou; pt 3). [13007]
  • 40. Schoen, John W.; Kirchhoff, Matthew D. 1990. Seasonal habitat use by Sitka black-tailed deer on Admiralty Island, Alaska. Journal of Wildlife Management. 54(3): 371-378. [11940]

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Wikipedia

Empetrum nigrum

Empetrum nigrum, crowberry or black crowberry, is a species of Empetrum which is native to most northern areas of the northern hemisphere.[2][3] It is usually dioecious, but there is a bisexual tetraploid subspecies, Empetrum nigrum ssp. hermaphroditum that occurs in more northerly locations and at higher altitude.[4][5]

In gardening, it can be grown in acidic soils in shady, moist areas. It can be used for the edible berries, for a purple dye, or as a ground cover.[6]

The metabolism and photosynthetic parameters of Empretrum can be altered in winter-warming experiments [7]

Illustration of E. nigrum from 1885

Uses[edit]

In subarctic areas, Empetrum nigrum has been a vital addition to the diet of the Inuit and the Sami. After waning popularity, the crowberry is regaining its reputation as an edible berry. It provides a steady crop and the gathering is relatively easy. The high concentration of anthocyanin pigment can be used as a natural food dye. The Dena'ina (Tanaina) harvest it for food, sometimes storing in quantity for winter, and like it mixed with lard or oil. They keep well in a cool place without any special preparation.

The berries are usually collected in the fall of the year but if not picked they may persist on the plant and can be picked in the spring. The Inuit and Native Americans mix them with other berries, especially the blueberry. Cooking enhances the flavor. They make good pie and jam.

The leaves and stems are used in Dena'ina medicine for diarrhea and stomach problems; they are boiled or soaked in hot water, and the strained liquid drunk. Some claim the berry juice is good for kidney trouble.[who?]

The yellow-leaved cultivar Empetrum nigrum 'Lucia'

In Dena'ina plantlore in the Outer and Upper Inlet area of Lake Clark, the root is also used as a medicine, being used to remove a growth on an eye and to heal sore eyes. The roots are boiled and the eyes are washed with the strained, cooled tea, to which a little sugar may be added. Some people say blackberry stems can be used in the same way for these ailments.[who?]

In Labrador, where the name "blackberry" is used, the smoke of the burning stems and leaves is used to smoke fish, notably Salmon, Sea Trout and Arctic Char.

Crowberries contain mostly water. Their vitamin content is low, as is also the concentration of volatile liquids, the lack of which makes them almost odorless. The acidity is lower than is typically encountered in forest berries, and benzene acids are almost absent.

Crowberries are also occasionally grown as ornamental plants in rockeries, notably the yellow-foliage cultivar Empetrum nigrum 'Lucia' (photo, left).

References[edit]

  1. ^ Sp. Pl. 2: 1022. 1753 [1 May 1753] "Plant Name Details for Empetrum nigrum". IPNI. Retrieved December 1, 2009. 
  2. ^ "Empetrum nigrum L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). United States Department of Agriculture. 
  3. ^ "Empetrum nigrum L.". PLANTS. 
  4. ^ Stace, CA (2010) New Flora of the British Isles, 3rd edition. Cambridge University press. ISBN978-0-521-70772-5. pp. 525
  5. ^ http://linnaeus.nrm.se/flora/di/erica/empet/empenig.html
  6. ^ "Empetrum nigrum - L.". Plants for a Future. 
  7. ^ Bokhorst S, Bjerke JW, Davey MP, Taulavuori K, Taulavuori E, Laine K, Callaghan TV, Phoenix GK. 2010. Impacts of extreme winter warming events on plant physiology in a sub-Arctic heath community. Physiologia Plantarum. 140(2): 128-140.
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

More info for the term: bisexual

The currently accepted scientific name of black crowberry is Empetrum
nigrum
L. [2,13,18]. There are two recognized subspecies, both having a
circumpolar distribution: Empetrum nigrum subsp. nigrum with unisexual
flowers and Empetrum nigrum subsp. hermaphroditum with bisexual flowers
[19].
  • 19. Hulten, Eric. 1968. Flora of Alaska and neighboring territories. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. 1008 p. [13403]
  • 13. Fernald, Merritt Lyndon. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. [Corrections supplied by R. C. Rollins]
  • 2. Anderson, J. P. 1959. Flora of Alaska and adjacent parts of Canada. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press. 543 p. [9928]
  • 18. Hitchcock, C. Leo; Cronquist, Arthur. 1964. Vascular plants of the Pacific Northwest. Part 2: Salicaceae to Saxifragaceae. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. 597 p. [1166]

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Comments: Murray, Mirre, and Elven's treatment in FNA (2009, vol. 8) concludes that the distinction of Empetrum hermaphroditum (= E. nigrum ssp. hermaphroditum) is based on a tetraploid synoecious plant and that this does not necessarily represent a distinct lineage. Thus they subsume 'hermaphroditum' into E. nigrum.

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Comments: Varieties of Empetrum nigrum are not accepted by FNA (2009, vol. 8).

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Common Names

black crowberry
crowbery
curlewberry

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Synonyms

Empetrum hermaphroditum (Lange) Hagerup

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