Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (L.) Spreng.
Pharmacopoeial name: Uva ursi.
Other common names: Red bearberry, bear's-grape, bear's bilberry, bear's whortleberry, foxberry, upland cranberry, mountain cranberry, crowberry, mealberry, rock-berry, mountain box, kinnikinnic, killikinic, universe vine, brawlins, burren myrtle, creashak, sagachomi, rapper dandies (fruit).
Habitat and range: Bearberry is a native of this country, growing in dry sandy or rocky soil from the Middle Atlantic States north to Labrador and westward to California and Alaska.
Description: The bearberry is a low, much-branched shrub trailing over the ground and having leathery, evergreen leaves. It is a member of the heath family (Ericaceae) and produces its pretty waxy flowers about May.
The numerous crowded leaves are thick and leathery, evergreen, about one-half to 1 inch in length, blunt and widest at the top and narrowing at the base, with a network of fine veins, smooth, and with margins entire. The flowers are few, borne in short drooping clusters at the ends of the branches, and are ovoid or somewhat bell shaped in form, four or five lobed, white with a pinkish tinge. They are followed by smooth, red, globular fruits, with an insipid, rather dry pulp, containing five nutlets.
Collection, prices, and uses: Bearberry or uva ursi leaves, official in the United States Pharmacopoeia, are collected in autumn. Collectors receive from about 2 to 4 cents a pound for them. Bearberry leaves have a bitter, astringent taste and a faint odor. They act on the kidneys and bladder and have astringent and tonic properties.
Another species: The leaves of manzanita (Arctostaphylos glauca Lindl.), a shrub-like tree, 9 to 25 feet high, have properties similar to uva ursi and are also used in medicine for similar purposes. They are of a leathery texture, pale green, ovate oblong in shape, with unbroken margins, and about 2 inches in length. Manzanita grows in California, in dry rocky districts on the western slopes of the Sierras.
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