Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Support the plant database you love!


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.

Enter a Plant Name:
Or you can choose a plant family:
Vaccinium macrocarpon (Cranberry)
Bloodworth, Stefan

Vaccinium macrocarpon

Vaccinium macrocarpon Aiton

Cranberry, Large Cranberry

Ericaceae (Heath Family)

Synonym(s): Oxycoccus macrocarpus


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

Low, prostrate mat. Small, glossy, leathery leaves, bronzy in spring and dark-green in summer, turn a variety of colors in fall. 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, followed by dark red fruit.

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.


From the Image Gallery

19 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Up to about 6 inches tall.
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Red to pink.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul


USA: CA , CT , DE , IL , IN , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OR , PA , RI , TN , VA , VT , WA , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: Nf. to Man., s. to VA, OH, n. IL & mts. to NC & TN; escaped elsewhere
Native Habitat: Coastal areas; cool bogs & swamps

Growing Conditions

Light 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.


Use Wildlife: Low
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Description: 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 on display at the following locations:

Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-03-01
Research By: TWC Staff

Go back