Practical ecological knowledge for the temperate reader.

Bog Cranberry - Oxycoccus oxycoccos

Family: Ericaceae (Heath family) [E-flora]

"Vaccinium oxycoccos is an evergreen Shrub growing to 0.1 m (0ft 4in) by 1 m (3ft 3in) at a fast rate. It is hardy to zone (UK) 2. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Jun to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, self.The plant is self-fertile. Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. Suitable pH: acid soils and can grow in very acid soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil." [PFAF]

"General: Small, creeping shrub; stems very slender, 15-50 cm long, 0.2-1 mm thick, glabrous to finely hairy." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Leaves: Evergreen, alternate, leathery, egg- to lance-shaped, tapering to tip, 2-10 mm long, 1-5 mm wide, deep green and shining on the upper surface, greyish beneath, margins rolled under." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Flowers: In apparently terminal clusters of 1 to several, or sometimes lateral; flower stalks very slender, 2-5 cm long, glabrous or finely hairy, curved downward near summit at flowering, erect in fruit, with 2 bracts, 1-2.5 mm long, usually below midlength of the stalk; corollas deep pink, of 4 distinct petals, oblong to oblong-lanceolate, 5-8 mm long, curved back; calyx lobes 4, less than 1 mm long; stamens 8, filaments hairy on margins and at least half as long as the anthers; anthers unawned, with terminal tubes." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Fruits: Berries, 5-12 mm wide, pale-pink to deep red." [IFBC-E-flora]
"Notes: Some authors split this taxon into two or more species. Recent studies suggest that this is unwarranted (Vander Kloet 1983). Although sometimes considered part of the genus Vaccinium, Oxycoccus is treated separately here (as in many other floras). The flowers of Oxycoccus are 4-merous and the corollas are deeply parted, with only the base being joined. In contrast, the corollas of Vaccinium are united and generally only toothed or undulating at the summit. The differences in the flowers and growth habit seem to justify the separation." [IFBC-E-flora]

Habitat / Range
"Bogs in the lowland and montane zones; frequent throughout BC; circumboreal, N to AK, YT, and NT, E to NB and NS, and S to OR, ID, and MN; Eurasia." [IFBC-E-flora]

Origin Status: Native [E-flora]

Native to northern Europe and Asia and also to the northern part of this country over much the same area as the larger species except that west of the mountains it does not extend as far south. [EWP]

Ecological Indicator Information
A shade-intolerant, submontane to montane, circumpolar evergreen shrub (transcontinental in North America). Occurs on wet to very wet, nitrogen-poor soils within montane boreal, cool temperate, and cool mesothermal climates in nutrient-poor wetlands; its occurrence increases with increasing latitude and continentality. [IPBC-E-flora]

"Diarrhoea and other gastrointestinal disturbances with large amounts. Seek professional advice if suffering from kidney disease before using [301]" [PFAF]

Edible Uses

Other Uses

Medicinal Uses

(Vacccinium oxycoccus) A Kansas wart charm is recorded which involves cutting a cranberry into halves. The wart has to be rubbed with each half, and they have then to be buried under a stone (Davenport). Although it is not quoted, surely the wart will disappear as the fruit rots. In a similar way, corns are treated by applying a poultice of freshly mashed cranberries (Hyatt). One interesting American usage is the application of cranberries to shingles. They say such a poultice will cure the condition (Turner & Bell), and cooked cranberries were sworn by in Kansas as effective rheumatic pain relievers (Meade).
The Russian sweet Kissel is made with the juice of stewed cranberries slightly thickend with cornflour. It is served in glasses at the beginning of the meal, or later on with a biscuit (J Hill. 1939). [????]

"Requires a moist or wet lime free soil, preferring one that is rich in peat or a light loamy soil with added leaf-mould[11, 200]. Prefers a very acid soil with a pH in the range of 4.5 to 6, plants soon become chlorotic when lime is present. Succeeds in full sun or light shade though it fruits better in a sunny position[200]. Requires shelter from strong winds[200]. The fruit often persists on the plant all winter without rotting[200]. Dislikes root disturbance, plants are best grown in pots until being planted out in their permanent positions[200]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]." [PFAF]

Groundcover: "Plants can be grown as a ground cover when planted about 1 metre apart each way[208]. Plants rapidly form a dense carpet when they are thriving[208]." [PFAF]

"Seed - sow late winter in a greenhouse in a lime-free potting mix and only just cover the seed[78]. Stored seed might require a period of up to 3 months cold stratification[113]. Another report says that it is best to sow the seed in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe[200]. Once they are about 5cm tall, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 - 8cm with a heel, August in a frame[78]. Slow and difficult. Layering in late summer or early autumn[78]. Another report says that spring is the best time to layer[200]. Takes 18 months[78]. Division of suckers in spring or early autumn[113]." [PFAF]



  1. [E-flora] -, Accessed April 12, 2015
  2. [PFAF] -, Accessed April 12, 2015

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