Shrubs with Simple, Alternate Leaves, Smooth Margin )
Heath Family (Ericaceae)
Habitat: Montane to Subalpine Moist Woods
Height: Up to 15 cm
Description: This low, trailing shrub rarely climbs more than 15 cm above the ground, often growing in mat-like densities. The stems are greenish, becoming reddish, and then blackish with age. The waxy, evergreen leaves are alternate, smooth margined, and almost oval in shape. They may be wider at the tip, and generally appears with a seam down the middle of the leaf. The leaves are 5-20 mm in length. The underside of the leaves have dark glands visible. The white to pink bell-like flowers are later replaced by tiny, red cranberries. They are bitter when fresh, but sweeten after spending a winter on the plant. The following spring they are quite tasty.
It is often mistaken for bearberry, however the dark glands on the underside of the leaves can help distinguish the two. The leaves are also larger on the bearberry.
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