Uva Ursi also known as Bearberry
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Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is a species of Arctostaphylos, one of several related species referred to as bearberry. Other names for this species include kinnikinnick and pinemat manzanita.
It is a small procumbent woody shrub 5-30 cm high. The leaves are evergreen, remaining green for 1-3 years before falling. The fruit is a red berry.
The leaves are shiny, small, and feel thick and stiff. They are alternately arranged on the stems. Undersides of leaves are lighter green than on the tops. New stems can be red in areas with high sun, but are otherwise green. Older growth stems are brown. In spring, they have white or pink flowers. They are a common plant on Jack pine sites.
The distribution is circumpolar, widespread in northern latitudes, confined to high altitudes further south. In Europe, from Iceland and North Cape, Norway south to southern Spain (Sierra Nevada), central Italy (Apennines) and northern Greece (Pindus mountains); in Asia from arctic Siberia south to Turkey, the Caucasus and the Himalaya; in North America from arctic Alaska, Canada and Greenland south to California, north coast, central High Sierra Nevada (above Convict Lake, Mono County, California), Central Coast, California, San Francisco Bay Area, to New Mexico in the Rocky Mountains; and the Appalachian Mountains in the northeast United States. In some areas the plant is endangered or has been extirpated from its native range. In other areas it is abundant.
Bearberry has historically been used for medicinal purposes. It contains the glycoside arbutin, which has antimicrobial properties and acts as a mild diuretic. It has been used for urinary tract complaints, including cystitis and urolithiasis. An infusion may be made by soaking the leaves in ethanol and then diluting with water.
There are four subspecies:
There are also several varieties that are propagated for use as ornamentals. It is an attractive evergreen plant and it is also useful for controlling erosion.