Bearberry

Bearberry_jpgBerryberry has long been known from ancient times as an astringent. Galen (ancient Greek physician, who showed that arteries carry blood) used this plant to stop bleeding in gladiators under his care.  It was used to treat kidney disorders from the mid-eighteenth century and was admitted to the London Pharmacopoeia in 1763.  The pharmacologically active ingredient was isolated in pure form in 1853. The 1998 edition of the Physician’s Desk Reference for Herbal Medicines, reports that Arctostaphylos uva-ursi preparations are available as drug powder or dried extract for cold medication and as a component of urologic combination preparations. Native Americans smoked dried leaves as an intoxicating narcotic often diluted with tobacco.  A plant infusion (medicine prepared by steeping flowers or leaves in a liquid without boiling) was used as a diuretic and for dropsy; also, for a hair wash for scalp diseases and to promote hair growth. A decoction (medicine prepared by boiling thick parts of a plant) of stems, leaves and berries was used as a rub for back pain and sprains.  The powdered dry leaves were sprinkled on sores .

OtherCommonName:

Bearsgrape, Kinnikinnick, Mealberry, Mountain Box, Sandberry, Redberry Leaves, Sagackhomi

ScientificName:

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Community:

Edge

PlantStatus:

Native

LifeSpan:

Perennial

PlantHeight:

6 to 12 inches

FruitingTime:

Early august to September

Distribution:

North America from Labrador to Virginia ~ West to Illinois and New Mexico ~ Common throughout Pine Barrens of NJ ~ Also found in north NJ

FloweringTime:

Late April to mid-May

IdentifyingCharacteristics:

Prostrate shrub, forming mats to 3 feet wide ~ Leaves leathery, evergreen, shinny, entire, spatula-shaped ~ Stems fine hairy with reddish bark ~ Flowers compact clusters, nodding bell-shaped, bright white or pinkish giving rise to red berry