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Vaccinium macrocarpon Aiton
Cranberry, Large cranberry
Synonym(s): Oxycoccus macrocarpus
USDA Symbol: VAMA
Low, prostrate mat, usually less than 1 ft. Small, glossy, leathery leaves, bronzy in spring and dark-green in summer, turn a variety of colors in fall. White to pink, tube-shaped flowers in nodding clusters and followed by a dark red, edible fruit. The ascending branches of this evergreen, trailing shrub have nodding, pinkish-white flowers with 4 backward- pointing petals in clusters arising in the leaf axils.
Cultivated cranberry varieties developed from this native species are grown extensively on Cape Cod and in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Small Cranberry (V. oxycoccus), a native of North America and Eurasia that occurs in mainland Canada and across the northern United States, has smaller leaves that are whiter beneath and have rolled edges. These two species were originally known as craneberries because of the resemblance of their petals and beaked anther to the head of those wading birds; they are sometimes placed in their own genus, Oxycoceus. Wild cranberries often form low dense masses over peaty, boggy areas. The berries are ready for picking in the fall.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Shrub Autumn Foliage:
Red Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul
, WV Canada: NB
, QC Native Distribution:
Nf. to Man., s. to VA, OH,
& mts. to NC
& TN; escaped elsewhere Native Habitat:
Coastal areas; cool bogs & swamps
Growing ConditionsLight Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Wet to moist, peaty soils.
Conditions Comments: Extensive creeping rhizomes. Difficult to transplant. Susceptible to chlorosis due to alkalinity. It is important to keep the roots cold and moist.
BenefitUse Wildlife: Low
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
PropagationDescription: Most commonly propagated by softwood cuttings taken in spring. Vaccinium will also root from hardwood cuttings of unbranched shoots of previous season. Seeds may need to be stratified and should be sown on a slightly acid soil mix.
Seed Treatment: Stratify for 60-90 days at 41 degrees.
Commercially Avail: yes
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Mt. Cuba Center
- Hockessin, DE
Record Last Modified: 2013-11-12
Research By: TWC Staff