50 Natives: North Dakota : Arctostaphylos uva -ursi – Kinnikinnik, Bearberry

May 5, 2010

I could be tempted to use this plant just for the fun of saying it’s name — Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (ark-toh-STAF-i-los u-VA er-SI) or one of it’s common names, kinnikinnick — it’s like I am Jane Fonda in Dancing with the Wolves.

Illustration Arctostaphylos uva ursi

Fact is, it is a pretty useful plant too. Evergreen ground cover, tolerant of poor soils, attracts wildlife, no maintenance, no fertilizing, salt tolerant – it checks a lot of boxes.  It’s great for rock gardens and coastal gardens.  The small rose flowers come on early in the summer and it puts out red berries in autumn.

It is an excellent choice to provide winter interest with the tiny leaves that turn bronze in the fall, and the small red berries that last until spring.
226948_bea4d2e3969764f76a2ceab458401744_largeimage from pixadaus

Not only is this plant a great problem solver in the landscape, but it is a well know culinary and medicinal herb.  The berries can be treated like cranberries and used in jams and jellies.



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