Vaccinium macrocarpon

Common Name: American cranberry 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Ericaceae
Native Range: Eastern North America, northern Asia
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 0.25 to 0.50 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: May to June
Bloom Description: White to pink
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium to wet
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Ground Cover, Water Plant
Leaf: Evergreen
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Tolerate: Wet Soil


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.

The common name cranberry derives from the Germanic kraan, meaning "crane" and bere, meaning "berry", possibly in reference to the appearance of the flowers.


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.


Can be used as a ground cover in a bog garden, or a trailing plant in a bog container. The fruits are deliciously tart and excellent cooked in sauces, pastries, or baked goods.