American Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon)

Oxycoccus macrocarpus. (Ait.)Pursh.
Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
American Cranberry
Vaccinium macrocarpon

Plants can be grown as a ground cover when planted about 1 metre apart each way[208]. Plants spread rapidly when they are thriving[208].

  • Medicinal Use

    An infusion of the branches has been used as a treatment for pleurisy[257].

  • Edible Use

    Fruit – raw or cooked[2, 11, 17, 46, 101]. It can also be dried for winter use[62]. Rich in vitamin C[200], the fruit is too acid for most peoples tastes to be eaten raw, so it is mainly used in pies, preserves etc[183]. It is said that a teaspoon of salt added to the cooking fruit can take the place of half the sugar normally used[183]. The fruit is between 1 and 2cm in diameter[200].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – sow late winter in a greenhouse in a lime-free potting mix and only just cover the seed[78]. Stored seed might require a period of up to 3 months cold stratification[113]. Another report says that it is best to sow the seed in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe[200]. Once they are about 5cm tall, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings in April of shoots 15cm long, in a sandy mix in a frame covered in plastic to keep them moist[200]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5 – 8cm with a heel, August in a frame[78]. Slow and difficult. Layering in late summer or early autumn[78]. Another report says that spring is the best time to layer[200]. Takes 18 months[78]. Division of suckers in spring or early autumn[113].
Requires a moist or semi-boggy lime free soil, preferring one that is rich in peat or a light loamy soil with added leaf-mould[11, 200]. Prefers a very acid soil with a pH in the range of 4 to 4.5, plants soon become chlorotic when lime is present[200]. Plants grow best in a poor soil, richer soils result in extra foliage production at the expense of fruit[200]. Succeeds in full sun or light shade though it fruits better in a sunny position[200]. Requires shelter from strong winds[200]. A very dwarf shrub producing long slender creeping stems that root into the soil. Upright stems grow from the axillary buds in the second year and these upright stems flower and fruit the following year[200]. Widely cultivated for its edible fruit in N. America, there are many named varieties[11, 183, 200]. Cultivated plants are usually grown in artificial bogs that are often flooded in the winter[200]. Plants can self-fertilize but cross-fertilization by insects results in higher yields[200]. Cultivated plants take about 5 years to come into full bearing but will then crop well for 60 – 100 years[200]. Dislikes root disturbance, plants are best grown in pots until being planted out in their permanent positions[200]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200].
Eastern N. America. Occasionally naturalized in Britain[17].

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*None of the information on this website qualifies as professional medical advice. Take only what resonates with your heart and use your own personal responsibility for what’s best for you. For more information [brackets] [000], see bibliography.