Shrubs of Wisconsin

Vaccinium macrocarpon Aiton
Family: Ericaceae
plants leaves plant with fruit fruit

Vaccinium macrocarpon is a small, creeping plant with simple, alternate, evergreen leaves usually less than 8 mm wide and 15 mm long. The leaves are glabrous (margins may be slightly ciliate) and strongly whitened beneath with entire, in-rolled margins and broadly rounded tips. The typical habitat is in bogs, but it is sometimes found in similar wet, sunny sites of low productivity, including recently exposed, bare sand near existing wetland populations (though it often does not persist on such sites for more than a few years). It is similar to Vaccinium oxycoccos which generally has thinner stems and smaller leaves with more acute tips, and roughly similar to Gaultheria hispidula, which has broadly ovate leaves and coarse, appressed hairs on the stems and undersides of leaves (and sometimes on leaf margins too). The three species are compared in this photograph.

This is the cranberry species grown as a crop and strongly associated with Thanksgiving dinner. Its spotty distribution in southern Wisconsin reflects the scarcity of bogs there.


known Wisconsin distribution


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