Photo Credit
Photo courtesy of Sarah Newman.

Kinnikinnick

Scientific name
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Also Known As
Bearberry
Plant Family
Kinnikinnick is one of the few woody shrubs in the heath family with large, thick evergreen leaves that trails along the ground. It has urn-shaped whitish or pinkish flowers with openings on the bottom.
Identification Hints

Kinnikinnick is one of the few woody shrubs in the heath family with large, thick evergreen leaves that trails along the ground. It has urn-shaped whitish or pinkish flowers with openings on the bottom and small red berry-like fruits.

Did You Know?

Kinnikinnick serves a dual role on sandy soils, as both a beautification plant as well as a critical area stabilizer. The thick, prostrate, vegetative mat and evergreen character are what make bearberry a very popular ground cover. It is often planted around home sites, sand dunes, sandy banks, and commercial sites. Contributed by USDA NRCS Northeast Plant Materials Program.

Leaves
Leathery, dark green leaves have rounded tips and are 1 in (2.5 cm) long, held vertically by a twisted leaf stalk. The leaves turn to a red-green or purple color in the fall.
Flowers
Small, white to pink urn-shaped flowers occurring in clusters. The flowers bloom in late spring (May to June) depending on the location.
Fruits
Kinnikinnick produces small berries (called drupes) that turn red when ripe. The berries are eaten by small mammals and some songbirds. Kinnikinnick fruits need to be cold stratified in order to germinate.
Habitat
Very cold tolerant, preferring coarse, well-drained soils of forests, sand dunes, bald or barren areas. Kinnikinnick is found throughout much of the United States, into Canada and reaching Alaska. It can be found at a variety of elevations.
States
AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, IA, ID, IL, IN, MA, ME, MI, MN, MT, ND, NH, NJ, NM, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SD, UT, VA, VT, WA, WI, WY