Vaccinium macrocarpon 'Thunderlake'

Common Name: cranberry 
Type: Fruit
Family: Ericaceae
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 0.75 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 3.00 to 4.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: Fuchsia pink
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy
Fruit: Showy, Edible


Best grown in damp to boggy, acidic (pH 4.0-5.2), organically rich, well-drained soil in full sun. Plant 2' apart. Self-pollinating.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Vaccinium macrocarpon, commonly called American cranberry, is native to bogs, swamps, and wet shorelines in parts of northern and eastern North America. It is a low-growing vine or trailing shrub (to 6" tall and spreading) with small, glossy leaves. Small, nodding flowers with white to pink, recurved petals bloom from late spring into early summer. The flowers are followed by plump, red to dark purple, ovoid to round, 0.5" diameter fruits. The leaves of this plant are a larval food source for the bog copper butterfly, the flowers are visited by bees, and the fruits are eaten by birds and occasionally small mammals.

The genus name Vaccinium comes from an ancient Latin name apparently derived from a prehistoric Mediterranean language. Its origin and meaning are generally considered to be lost to time.

The specific epithet macrocarpon means large-fruited, in reference to the relatively large size of the fruit of this species.

'Thunderlake', a recent J.E. Miller Nurseries' exclusive introduction, is a shrub-like cultivar that can be grown in garden soil in somewhat the same manner as blueberries. Plants typically grow to 12" tall with a 3-4' spread and feature fuchsia-pink flowers in spring which give way to bright red cranberries that mature in September-October. If massed, plants can form a carpet of green foliage. This plant can be grown for the food crop, as an ornamental or both.


Susceptible to a number of pests and diseases, including red leaf spot, fruit end rot, root rot, cranberry blossomworm, cranberry tipworm, cranberry weevil, and cranberry fruitworm.


Grow in the fruit or vegetable garden for the food crop. Ornamentally, may be grown as a small scale ground cover for sunny areas or in the shrub or mixed border in front of other acid-loving plants such as azaleas and rhododendrons.