En EspaŅol
Share

NPIN: Native Plant Database

Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

Search native plant database:
Name:    
Family:    
See a list of all Plants





Arctostaphylos alpina (Alpine bearberry)
Weyand, Phyllis

Arctostaphylos alpina

Arctostaphylos alpina (L.) Spreng.

Alpine bearberry

Ericaceae (Heath Family)

Synonym(s):

USDA Symbol: ARAL2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N), GL (N), SPM (N)

A densely branched, dwarf shrub, usually less than 6 in. tall. The bark is noticeably shredded, papery and reddish in color. Narrow, urn-shaped flowers are pinkish and are followed by a purplish-black berry. Oval leaves turn scarlet in fall and persist for some time.

The alpine bearberry has several uses for the Objibwa people:
It can be pounded and infused as an external wash for rheumatism.
A decoction of the bark may be taken for internal blood diseases.
The leaves are used for medicine ceremonies, and can be smoked to induce intoxication.

As well, the berries are edible. The Koyukon store them in grease or oil during the winter and eat them with fish or meat. (Native American Ethnobotany Database)


 

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Root Type: Tap
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Flower:
Fruit:
Size Class: 0-1 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Apr , May

Distribution

USA: AK , ME , NH
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NL , ON , QC , SK
Native Distribution: AK to s. & s.c. Yukon
Native Habitat: Tundra; alpine heaths

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Moist
Cold Tolerant: yes
Soil Description: Barren, peaty soil.

Benefit

Use Food: The berries are edible. The Koyukon store them in grease or oil during the winter and eat them with fish or meat. (Native American Ethnobotany Database)
Use Medicinal: The alpine bearberry has several uses for the Objibwa people:
It can be pounded and infused as an external wash for rheumatism.
A decoction of the bark may be taken for internal blood diseases.
The leaves are used for medicine ceremonies, and can be smoked to induce intoxication.
Attracts: Birds

Propagation

Description: Propagation by seed is can be difficult.
Seed Collection: The outer fleshy part of the furit may be removed by macering the fruits with water and separating the nutlets by flotation or air-screening.
Seed Treatment: Seeds of most Arctostaphylos species have hard seed coats and dormant embryos. Scarification (several hours in H2SO4) followed by stratification may improve germination.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

Bibliography

Bibref 1232 - Native American Ethnobotany (1998) Moerman, Daniel E.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1987 VOL. 4, NO.2 - Wildflowers Provide Activity in Summer, Beautiful Colorado Beckons, What is Rese...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Arctostaphylos alpina in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Arctostaphylos alpina in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Arctostaphylos alpina

Metadata

Record Modified: 2012-08-25
Research By: TWC Staff

Go back

E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center