Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
Common name: 
ark-tow-STAF-i-los OO-va ER-see
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Evergreen ground cover, 6-12+ inches (15-30 cm), branches root where they touch the soil, mat-forming.  Exfoliating bark on older stems.  Leaves alternate, simple, obovate-oblong, 0.5-3.5 cm long, displayed evenly on stem, lustrous dark green above, lighter below, margins have a fringe of minute hairs (ciliate), one obvious bundle trace in the leaf scar.  Flowers, perfect, white-tinged pink, urn-shaped, in terminal nodding racemes.  Fleshy fruit (drupe), bright red, 6 mm diam.; may not set fruit.
  • Sun or partial shade. Difficult to transplant.  Does best in poor, sandy, infertile, acid soils.  There are reports that it grows well on limestone rock.  Good salt tolerance.
  • A number of cultivars, including:
    • ‘Emerald Carpet’  -  dark green leaves, grows to 25-45 cm, appears to accept shade.
    • ‘Massachusetts’  -  a popular, flat growing, fruitful cultivar developed at Oregon State University by Robert Tichnor.
    • ‘Point Reyes’  -  oval, close set leaves, produces few fruit, has heat and drought tolerance.
    • ‘San Bruno Mountain’  -  low growing, large, thick, glossy leaves, large red fruit.
    • ‘Vancouver Jade’  -  glossy green leaves, turn red-bronze in winter, low growing, to 15 cm, but not as wide spreading as 'Massachusetts'.
    • ‘Woods Compact’  -  compact form with dark green leaves, red branches and pink flowers.
  •  Hardy to USDA Zone 2 (varies)    Circumboreal covering Europe, Asia, North America, south to Virginia and N. California.
  • uva-ursi: bear's grape (uva, grape; ursi, bear, in the family Ursidae)
  • Kinnikinnik: is thought to be an Algonquian term meaning, 'smoke mixture'. The dried leaves were smoked by a number of Native American groups living along the Pacific Ocean over the past two centuries, but there is little evidence of these groups smoking it prior to their contact with Europeans (Pojar and MacKinnon, 1994).


Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit, covering a hill side

    plant habit, covering a hill side

  • branches


  • shoots, two selections

    shoots, two selections

  • plant habit, flowering

    plant habit, flowering

  • flowers and leaves

    flowers and leaves

  • flowering branchlets, three selections

    flowering branchlets, three selections

  • leaves, from three selections

    leaves, from three selections

  • branches


  • leaves and fruit

    leaves and fruit