South Dakota Native Plant Research
Ericaceae : Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Ericaceae : Arctostaphylos uva-ursi


Download Seed: The seed of bearberry are 1-seeded nutlets. (56 KB)

Download Vegetative: the leave blades are entire. (73 KB)

Download Flowering: Bearberry produces flowers in dense terminal panicles or racemes. (973 KB)

Download Fruiting: The fleshy red drupe is 4-10 mm across. (821 KB)

Download Mature plant in the Black Hills (2.1 MB)

Family Name


Common Name

Bearberry, kinnikinnick, sandberry

Native American Name

Lakota: čhaŋlí wápe


Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is a perennial low shrub, with trailing flexible stems which form mats 1-2 m in diameter. The bark is reddish on younger stems and light colored and exfoliating on older stems. The leaves are alternate with a short petiole. The blades are entire, spatulate to obovate, evergreen and 1-3 cm long. The upper surface of the leaves is leathery and shiny. The flowers are arranged in terminal racemes or panicles and are often pendulous. The 5 sepals are 1-1.5 mm long, pink to white and persisting in fruit. The corolla is urceolate, white to pink, 4-8 mm long and the lobes are reflexed. There are 10n stamens that are shorter than the petals and a the ovary is 5-celled. The fruit is a fleshy drupe, red, 4-10 mm in diameter containing 5 boney 1-seeded nutlets, Bearberry blooms from May to July and grows in wooded areas on rocky to sandy sights in western South Dakota. This species is commonly found on much of the norther and mountainous regions of North America.

Additional Notes

Kinnikinnick makes a beautiful addition overhanging a rock wall or under trees and shrub. It attracts large numbers of native bees and its fruits are favored by many types of birds. Dried bearberry leaves are the main component in many traditional North American Native smoking mixes known as "kinnikinnick."

Horticulture Notes

Seed Collection: Collect seed June-July after fruit turns red. Remove seed from pulp.

Germination: Acid scarification followed by warm and cold stratification, or plant seeds outside in fall and allow up to 2 years to germinate after sowing.

Vegetative Propagation: Difficult to transplant but can be propagated by rooting soft-wood cuttings.

Soils:Rocky to sandy, acidic (pH

Light: Full sun to full shade

Water: Moist to dry, this species is fairly drought resistant.

Ericaceae : Arctostaphylos uva-ursi