Plant Data Sheet



Species (common name, Latin name)

Mountain cranberry, Vaccinium vitis-idaea



Circumpolar, circumboreal species-worldwide. From northwestern Greenland to the Canadian Arctic southward to New England and westward to the Great Lakes and British Columbia. In North America, mountain cranberry is restricted to areas north of the glacial boundary (Tirmenstein, 1991)


Climate, elevation

Variety of climatic regimes, areas characterized by short cool summers and long cold winters. Sea-level to 7,900 ft. (Tirmenstein, 1991)


Local occurrence (where, how common)

Northern temperate forests and alpine communities. In mature forests, plants often grow on top of decaying tree stumps (Rook, 2002)


Habitat preferences

Grows on shallow, poorly developed mineral soil as well as on drained peat. Soils often of low fertility with little calcium but may be high in decaying organics (Rook, 2002)


Plant strategy type/successional stage (stress-tolerator, competitor, weedy/colonizer, seral, late successional)

In many forest communities, requires fire for its maintenance. Not generally considered a pioneer species but does occur in early stages in some communities. Persists indefinitely unless shaded out by conifers (Rook, 2002)


Associated species

Betula papyrifera, Picea spp., Ledum groenlandicum, Salix spp., Carex spp., Chamerion angustifolia, Rosa acicularis (Rook, 2002)


May be collected as: (seed, layered, divisions, etc.)

Reproduces by seed and vegetatively by rhizomes (Rook, 2002)


Collection restrictions or guidelines

Flowers June July; fruits August September. Few flowers until plants 5-10 years old. Fruit production varies with site conditions. Plants in full sun produce more fruit/seed. Flowering may last 9 to 27 days. Fruit ripens approximately 78 to 84 days after full bloom (Tirmenstein, 1991) (Rook, 2002) (Diamond and Hsu, 1998)


Seed germination (needs dormancy breaking?)

Cold stratification (32-41F) for up to 5 months (Rook, 2002)


Recommended seed storage conditions

Fresh seed generally exhibits best germination (Rook, 2002)


Propagation recommendations (plant seeds, vegetative parts, cuttings, etc.)

Generally responds more favorably to fertilizer and irrigation . Mulches such as milled peat can increase fruit production in some instances. Stem cuttings root easily if planted in the spring or early fall but exhibit slow rhizome development and poor subsequent vegetative spread. Clumps can be divided and transplanted onto disturbed sites. (Rook, 2002)


Soil or medium requirements (inoculum necessary?)

Sandy, acidic soil for seeds (pH 5-6) with about 2% organic for establishment and early growth. Rhizomes grow well in peat but can also penetrate to mineral soil (Rook, 2002)


Installation form (form, potential for successful outcomes, cost)



Recommended planting density

Rhizomes may sprout singly or in groups of 1 or 2 per square meter (Rook, 2002)


Care requirements after installed (water weekly, water once etc.)

Survival of these transplants is variable, ranging from 30%-90% (Rook, 2002)


Normal rate of growth or spread; lifespan



Sources cited


2) Perala, D.A. Silvics of North America. USDA, Forest Service, Agriculture Handbook 654.December 1990.


3) Rook, Earl. Plants of the North. September 27, 2002.


4) Rose, Robin, Caryn Chachulski, and Diane Haase. Propagation of Pacific Norhtwest Native Plants. Oregon State University Press, Corvallis, OR. 1998.


Tirmenstein, D. 1991. Vaccinium vitis-idaea. In: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (2003, April). Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. Available: April 17, 2003.

Diamond, Allaire and Jiasuey Hsu. Web of Species. 1998. April 17, 2003.


Data compiled by (student name and date)

Scott Olmsted; 041403