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Bearberry has nodding, pinkish-white flowers in spring.

Bearberry is a broadleaf evergreen ground cover that produces white to pinkish-white flowers and red fruit.  It provides multi-season interest in the landscape. 

"This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research."  

Botanical name:

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

All common names:

Bearberry, common bearberry, kinnikinick, billberry, barren myrtle, hog cranberry, red bearberry, sandberry, manzanita, mealberry, mountain box, bear's grape

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Ground cover,
  • Perennial

Native Locale:

  • Chicago area,
  • Illinois,
  • Non-native,
  • North America

Landscape Uses:

  • Foundation,
  • Massing,
  • Mixed border,
  • Patio/sidewalk

Size Range:

  • Low-growing plant (under 6 inches)

Light Exposure:

  • Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 2,
  • Zone 3,
  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7

Soil Preference:

  • Acid soil,
  • Dry soil,
  • Sandy soil


  • Dry sites,
  • Occasional drought,
  • Road salt

Seasons of Interest:

  • early winter,
  • midwinter,
  • late winter,
  • early spring,
  • mid spring,
  • late spring,
  • early summer,
  • midsummer,
  • late summer,
  • early fall,
  • mid fall,
  • late fall

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Pink,
  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Creeping

Growth Rate:

  • Slow,
  • Moderate

More Information:

Size and Method of spreading

Bearberry is a trailing-rooting, evergreen cover that usually grows less that 6 inches high.  It may spread  out very widely.  Trailing-rooting ground covers have trailing stems that spread out from a central root system.  These stems spread out horizontally over the ground and can root where they come in contact with the soil.  With bearberry, the stems root when the become covered with soil.  One plant can turn into a large colony.

Plant Care

Bearberry requires fairly specific growing conditions.  It is an acid-loving plant and needs to have a soil with an acid pH (4.5 to 5.5 is preferred).  It thrives in poor (infertile) soils that are dry and sandy.  Tolerant of salt.  It grows well in full sun or part shade.

Disease, pests, and problems

Can be difficult to transplant.
Leaf galls can be a problem.

Disease, pest, and problem resistance

Salt tolerant.

Native geographic location and habitat

C-Value: 10

Bearberry is native to Illinois, including the Chicago Region, North America, Europe and Asia.

Leaf description

The evergreen leaves are arranged alternately on the stems.  Leaves are thick and leathery, with entire leaf margins.  The upper surface of the leaf is dark green and the lower surface is light green.  Foliage turns reddish in fall and winter.

Flower description

Small, urn-shaped, white to pink flowers are produced in spring.  These flowers hang in clusters near the ends of the branches.

Fruit description

The fruits are berry-like drupes, bright red and very astringent.  The fruits ripen in late summer and often persist well into winter


Location of Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry) at the Arboretum