Bearberry Facts

Bearberry Facts
Bearberry is an evergreen plant that belongs to the heather family. It can be found in Canada, USA, Europe and Asia. Bearberry is adapted to long periods of cold weather and it easily thrives tundra. Bearberry grows on dry, poor, usually sandy soils, exposed to direct sunlight. It can be found in the mountains, shorelines, prairies, dunes and rocky areas. Cultivars of bearberry that produce glossy leaves, showy flowers and numerous fruit are cultivated in ornamental purposes. Non-flowering varieties of bearberry are cultivated in medical purposes.
Interesting Bearberry Facts:
Bearberry is a creeping shrub that can reach 2 to 8 inches in height and few meters in length.
Stem of bearberry is covered with papery bark with silky hairs. Peeled pieces of bark usually cover mature, reddish-brown branches.
Bearberry has oval shaped, firm, leathery leaves that are alternately arranged on the branches. Leaves have vertically-positioned, twisted leaf stalks.
Bearberry produces pale pink or white flowers arranged in terminal clusters composed of 3 to 15 flowers. Individual flowers are bell-shaped, composed of petals that are curled on the tips. Flowers contain both types of reproductive organs (bisexual).
Bearberry blooms from May to June and attracts bumblebees, responsible for the pollination of this plant. Hummingbirds also visit flowers of bearberry to drink nectar.
Fruit of bearberry is red, berry-like drupe. Fruit is fleshy and filled with 1 to 5 stony seed. It ripens during the autumn and remains on the bush during the winter.
Bearberry propagates via seed, stem cuttings and dormant buds. Wildfires facilitate seed germination.
Name "bearberry" refers to the fact that black and grizzly bears like to eat fruit of this plant during the autumn and early spring. Bearberry also represents important source of food for the wild species of sheep and goats, elk, deer, wild turkey and grouse.
Scientific name of the plant "Arctostaphylos" means "bunch of bear's grape" in Greek language. Uva-ursi is another name of the plant with the same meaning (bear's grape in Latin language).
Bearberries can be used in human diet for the preparation of jellies, jams and sauces.
Leaves of bearberry can be mixed with tobacco or smoked instead of tobacco. This practice was especially popular in the past among Native Americans.
Strong root system of bearberry can prevent erosion of the ground.
Root of bearberry can be consumed in the form of tea and used in treatment of cough or excessive menstrual bleeding. Tea made of tree bark is used to accelerate recovery after the childbirth. Tea made of dry leaves collected during the autumn is used in treatment of the infections of the urinary tract (kidney or bladder disorders).
Over 50 commercially available pharmaceutical products in the North America contain bearberry.
Bearberry can survive from 25 to 50 years in the wild.

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