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Arctostaphylos uva-ursi - (L.)Spreng.                
                 
Common Name Bearberry
Family Ericaceae
Synonyms A. officinalis. Arbutus uva-ursi. Uva-ursi procumbens. Uva-ursi uva-ursi.
Known Hazards This plant is best not used by pregnant women since it can reduce the supply of blood to the foetus[172]. Large doses may lead to nausea and vomiting due to tannin content. Overdoes may result in tinnitus, nausea, vomiting, shortness of breath, convulsions and collapse [301].
Habitats Dry open woods, often on gravelly or sandy soils[212]. It is also found on sand dunes along the coast[212] and is also found on limestone in the European Alps.
Range Britain. Northern N. America. N. Europe. N. Asia.
Edibility Rating  
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun

Summary       

Physical Characteristics       
 icon of manicon of shrub
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is an evergreen Shrub growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Apr to July, and the seeds ripen from Jul to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, self.The plant is self-fertile.


USDA hardiness zone : Coming soon


Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in nutritionally poor soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Bearberry


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Koeh-013.jpg
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Bearberry
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Koeh-013.jpg
   
Habitats       
Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Ground Cover;
Edible Uses                                         
Edible Parts: Fruit.
Edible Uses: Tea.

Fruit - raw or cooked[3, 7, 8, 62, 161, 257]. Insipid, dry and mealy[4, 101, 183], it becomes sweeter when cooked[212]. Added to stews etc, it is a good source of carbohydrates[101]. The fruit can also be used to make a cooling drink or used for preserves etc[161, 183]. It can be dried and stored for later use[257]. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter[200]. A tea is made from the dried leaves[177, 183].
Medicinal Uses


Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antiseptic;  Astringent;  Birthing aid;  Diuretic;  Hypnotic;  Kidney;  Lithontripic;  Poultice;  Skin;  Tonic;  Women's complaints.


Bearberry was commonly used by many native North American Indian tribes to treat a wide range of complaints and has also been used in conventional herbal medicine for hundreds of years, it is one of the best natural urinary antiseptics[254]. The leaves contain hydroquinones and are strongly antibacterial, especially against certain organisms associated with urinary infections[238]. The plant should be used with caution, however, because hydroquinones are also toxic[222]. The leaves are antiseptic, astringent, diuretic, lithontripic, hypnotic and tonic[7, 9, 21, 102, 165, 172, 192]. The dried leaves are used in the treatment of a variety of complaints[4]. These leaves should be harvested in early autumn, only green leaves being selected, and then dried in gentle heat[4]. A tea made from the dried leaves is much used for kidney and bladder complaints and inflammations of the urinary tract such as acute and chronic cystitis and urethritis, but it should be used with caution and preferably only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[4, 21, 46, 172, 222, 254]. The tea is more effective if the urine is alkaline, thus it is best used in combination with a vegetable-based diet[254]. Externally, a poultice of the infused leaves with oil has been used as a salve to treat rashes, skin sores etc, and as a wash for a baby's head[257]. An infusion of the leaves has been used as an eyewash, a mouthwash for cankers and sore gums and as a poultice for back pains, rheumatism, burns etc[257]. The dried leaves have been used for smoking as an alternative to tobacco[238]. One report says that it is unclear whether this was for medicinal purposes or for the intoxicated state it could produce[192], whilst another says that the leaves were smoked to treat headaches and also as a narcotic[257]. The herb should not be prescribed to children, pregnant women or patients with kidney disease[238]. Another report says that some native North American Indian tribes used an infusion of the stems, combined with blueberry stems (Vaccinium spp) to prevent miscarriage without causing harm to the baby, and to speed a woman's recovery after the birth[257]. Other uses: fluid retention and bed wetting. Claimed to strengthen the heart muscle and urinary tract and to return the womb to its normal size after childbirth [301]. Treatment should be short (seven days) and used with an alkaline diet [301]. Not recommended for children under 12.
Other Uses
Beads;  Dye;  Pioneer;  Soil stabilization;  Tannin;  Waterproofing.

A yellowish-brown dye is obtained from the leaves[57, 101], it does not require a mordant[168]. A grey-brown dye is obtained from the fruit[257]. The dried fruits are used in rattles and as beads on necklaces etc[99, 257]. The leaves are a good source of tannin[46, 61, 212]. The mashed berries can be rubbed on the insides of coiled cedar root baskets in order to waterproof them[257]. A good ground-cover for steep sandy banks in a sunny position[188, 200] or in light shade[197]. A carpeting plant, growing fairly fast and carpeting as it spreads[208]. It is valuable for checking soil erosion on watersheds[212]. This is also a pioneer plant in the wild, often being the first plant to colonize burnt-over areas, especially on poor soils[155].
Cultivation details                                         
Requires a deep moist well-drained light or medium lime-free loam in sun or semi-shade[3, 11, 200]. One report says that this species succeeds in alkaline soils[182] (a rather surprising comment considering the general needs of the genus - it is more likely that the plant can grow on limestone so long as the soil remains acid[K]).Shade tolerant[31] but plants produce less fruit when they are grown in the shade[200]. Prefers a cool damp position. A very ornamental plant, it is sometimes cultivated for its medicinal uses[1]. There are a number of named varieties developed for their ornamental interest[200]. The form 'Massachusetts' is an especially prostrate, free-flowering and free-fruiting form[183]. 'Anchor Bay', 'Point Reyes' and 'Vulcan's Peak' have all been mentioned as good groundcover forms[200]. This is one of the first plants to colonize bare and rocky ground and burnt over areas[155]. It is often an indicator of poor soils in the wild[212]. Plants resent root disturbance and should be placed in their final positions as soon as possible[11, 134]. Hybridizes with other members of this genus, especially A. columbiana.
                                                                                 
Propagation                                         
Seed - best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe. Pre-soak dried seed in boiling water for 10 - 20 seconds or burn some straw on top of them and then stratify at 2 - 5°c for 2 months[11, 200]. The seed usually germinates in 2 - 3 months at 15°c[134]. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame or greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer. Cuttings of side shoots of the current season's growth, 5 - 8cm with a heel, August to December in a frame. The cuttings are very slow and can take a year to root[1, 78]. Division in early spring. Take care because the plant resents root disturbance. Pot the divisions up and keep them in a lightly shaded position in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are growing away actively. Layering of long branches in early spring[200, 238].
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Expert comment                                         
 
      
Author                                         
(L.)Spreng.
                                                                                 
Botanical References                                         
1117200
                                                                                 
Links / References                                         

  [K] Ken Fern Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.

[1]F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaces in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
[3]Simmons. A. E. Growing Unusual Fruit.
A very readable book with information on about 100 species that can be grown in Britain (some in greenhouses) and details on how to grow and use them.
[4]Grieve. A Modern Herbal.
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
[7]Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
[8]Ceres. Free for All.
Edible wild plants in Britain. Small booklet, nothing special.
[9]Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants.
Covers plants in Europe. a drawing of each plant, quite a bit of interesting information.
[11]Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
[21]Lust. J. The Herb Book.
Lots of information tightly crammed into a fairly small book.
[31]Brown. Shade Plants for Garden and Woodland.
[46]Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants.
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
[57]Schery. R. W. Plants for Man.
Fairly readable but not very comprehensive. Deals with plants from around the world.
[61]Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man.
Forget the sexist title, this is one of the best books on the subject. Lists a very extensive range of useful plants from around the world with very brief details of the uses. Not for the casual reader.
[62]Elias. T. and Dykeman. P. A Field Guide to N. American Edible Wild Plants.
Very readable.
[78]Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers.
A bit dated but a good book on propagation techniques with specific details for a wide range of plants.
[99]Turner. N. J. Plants in British Columbian Indian Technology.
Excellent and readable guide.
[101]Turner. N. J. and Szczawinski. A. Edible Wild Fruits and Nuts of Canada.
A very readable guide to some wild foods of Canada.
[102]Kavasch. B. Native Harvests.
Another guide to the wild foods of America.
[134]Rice. G. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 2.
Very readable magazine with lots of information on propagation. An interesting article on Ensete ventricosum.
[155]Arnberger. L. P. Flowers of the Southwest Mountains.
A lovely little pocket guide to wild plants in the southern Rockies of America.
[161]Yanovsky. E. Food Plants of the N. American Indians. Publication no. 237.
A comprehensive but very terse guide. Not for the casual reader.
[165]Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism.
An excellent small herbal.
[168]Grae. I. Nature's Colors - Dyes from Plants.
A very good and readable book on dyeing.
[172]Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest.
A nice guide to some useful plants in that area.
[177]Kunkel. G. Plants for Human Consumption.
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
[182]Thomas. G. S. Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos.
Contains a wide range of plants with a brief description, mainly of their ornamental value but also usually of cultivation details and varieties.
[183]Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
[188]Brickell. C. The RHS Gardener's Encyclopedia of Plants and Flowers
Excellent range of photographs, some cultivation details but very little information on plant uses.
[192]Emboden. W. Narcotic Plants
A lot of details about the history, chemistry and use of narcotic plants, including hallucinogens, stimulants, inebriants and hypnotics.
[197]Royal Horticultural Society. Ground Cover Plants.
A handy little booklet from the R.H.S.
[200]Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
[208]Thomas. G. S. Plants for Ground Cover
An excellent detailled book on the subject, very comprehensive.
[212]Craighead. J., Craighead. F. and Davis. R. A Field Guide to Rocky Mountain Wildflowers
Excellent little pocket guide to the area, covering 590 species and often giving details of their uses.
[222]Foster. S. & Duke. J. A. A Field Guide to Medicinal Plants. Eastern and Central N. America.
A concise book dealing with almost 500 species. A line drawing of each plant is included plus colour photographs of about 100 species. Very good as a field guide, it only gives brief details about the plants medicinal properties.
[238]Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses.
A very well presented and informative book on herbs from around the globe. Plenty in it for both the casual reader and the serious student. Just one main quibble is the silly way of having two separate entries for each plant.
[254]Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants
An excellent guide to over 500 of the more well known medicinal herbs from around the world.
[257]Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
[301]Karalliedde. L. and Gawarammana. I. Traditional Herbal Medicines
A guide to the safer use of herbal medicines.

Readers comment                                         
 
Elizabeth H.
Gregory Sun Feb 11 2007
Bearberry [the dried and crushed leaves]was also used by the native americans as an "extender" for their pipe smoking mixes. Tobacco being "expensive" they would extend it by mixing it with "rabbit tobacco" [comfrey], shredded {inner] bark from cedar and others. The resulting mix was then called "kinni-kinnick".
Elizabeth H.
Alan Walsh Wed Jul 11 2007
Hi i'm a complete amateur in the gardening world and a friend of mine told me i need some ground cover ? I was wondering if you could actually send me some pictures of some plants so i could see them the location is in a sunny spot and has a palm tree in the centre of it . I really wanted something evergreen and nothing that was likely to die off easily and also obviously something that looks good ? Small conifers ? or shrubs perhaps ?
Elizabeth H.
Marinella Zepigi Tue Jun 10 2008

Acta plantarum forum botanico Description - Photos - Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (L.) Spreng.

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