Crowberry (Empetrum nigrum)

Common Name Latin Name Plant Family
Empetrum nigrum

A purple dye is obtained from the fruit[115].

Can be used for groundcover in exposed locations[200]. Plants should be spaced about 25cm apart each way[208].

  • Medicinal Use

    The leafy branches have been used, especially for children with a fever, as a diuretic[257]. It has also been used to treat kidney problems[257].

    A decoction or infusion of the stems, or the cooked berries, have been used in the treatment of diarrhoea[257].

    A decoction of the leaves and stems, mixed with Hudson Bay tea and young spruce tree tips, has been used in the treatment of colds[257].

    A decoction of the roots has been used as an eyewash to remove a growth[257].

  • Edible Use

    Fruit – raw or cooked[1, 2, 3, 5, 65]. It can taste slightly acid or insipid[101]. Not very desirable[11], it tastes best after a frost[172]. A watery flavour, it is mainly used for making drinks, pies, preserves etc[183]. The Inuit dry or freeze them for winter use[183]. The fruit can hang on the plant all winter[172]. The fruit is about 7.5mm in diameter[200].

    A tea can be made from the twigs[183].

  • Cautionary Notes

    None known

Cultivation & Habitat

Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The seed can be very slow to germinate, stored seed requires 5 months warm then 3 months cold stratification at 5¡c[200]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on 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 of half-ripe wood, 3cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Takes 3 weeks. Good percentage[78, 200]. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year’s growth, 3cm with a heel, October in a frame. Requires shade. Good percentage[78, 200].
A calcifuge plant, it is easily grown in a lime-free soil[200]. Prefers a moist sandy peaty soil and some shade[1, 3]. The two names var. ‘Rubrum’ and var. ‘Purpureum’ are of doubtful application to this species and may refer to E. eamesii[200]. Plants are usually dioecious though hermaphrodite forms are known. Male and female plants will normally need to be grown if fruit and seed are required.
Europe, including Britain, Iceland to the Pyrenees, east to Siberia and Bulgaria and also N. America

Become ungovernable, break the chains of the matrix; grow and forage your own food and medicine.

*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.