Shrubs, prostrate, mat-forming, 0.1-0.5 m; burl sometimes present, sometimes epicormic; twigs usually sparsely short-hairy, sometimes long-hairy or short and/or long glandular-hairy. Leaves separated proximally, overlapping distally, bifacial; petiole 2-4 mm; blade light green abaxially, dark green adaxially, shiny, usually oblanceolate to obovate, sometimes narrowly elliptic, 1-2.5 × 0.5-1.5 cm, base cuneate (not clasping), margins entire, often cupped, surfaces smooth, sparsely puberulent, glabrescent. Inflorescences racemes (simple or 1-branched); immature inflorescence pendent, (congested), axis 0.3-1 cm, 1+ mm diam., usually sparsely short-hairy, sometimes long-hairy or short glandular-hairy; bracts not appressed, scalelike, narrowly deltate, 2-6 mm (larger than buds), apex acuminate, surfaces glabrous. Pedicels 2-4 mm, glabrous. Flowers: corolla white to pink, urceolate; ovary glabrous. Fruits globose, 6-12 mm diam., glabrous. Stones distinct. 2n = 26, 52. Flowering winter-early summer. Coastal dunes, open, acidic temperate and boreal forests, high montane on acidic, sandy, or rocky soils; 0-3100 m; Greenland; St. Pierre and Miquelon; Alta., B.C., Man., N.B., Nfld. and Labr., N.W.T., N.S., Nunavut, Ont., P.E.I., Que., Sask., Yukon; Alaska, Ariz., Calif., Colo., Conn., Del., Idaho, Ill., Ind., Iowa, Maine, Mass., Mich., Minn., Mont., Nev., N.H., N.J., N.Mex., N.Y., N.Dak., Ohio, Oreg., Pa., R.I., S.Dak., Utah, Vt., Va., Wash., Wis., Wyo.; Central America (Guatemala); Eurasia. Arctostaphylos uva-ursi exhibits great variation in indument associated with the young twigs. Most of this variation has historically been separated into subspecies, except that a recent analysis of the group suggested environmentally-based variation in these characters (T. J. Rosatti 1987b). This is the most widely distributed of all Arctostaphylos species and is the only one found outside of North America. Two ploidy levels are common, and populations sometimes contain both diploids and tetraploids. More work on this widespread species will likely elucidate its variation in morphology and ploidy. Infraspecific taxa may well be recognized once these patterns are further assessed. A form with striking deep red to purple autumnal corollas (often blooming also in spring with normal-colored corollas) occurs on Cape Cod and Nantucket Island, Massachusetts.
Most populations lack burls and are killed by fire; throughout the range in North America are occasional populations or individuals that have small, sometimes epicormic burls. This has been noted in California, parts of Canada, and New York. With more observations this distribution may become clearer.
A form with somewhat puberulent and larger leaves has been described as Arctostaphylos ×media Greene. It occurs along the northern California coast and in Oregon and Washington. It is assumed to be a hybrid between A. uva-ursi and A. columbiana. Similarly, in the Rocky Mountains in areas with both A. uva-ursi and A. patula, hybrids have been called A. coloradensis Rollins.
PLANT: Prostrate shrubs, 0.1-0.2 m tall, with branches trailing along the ground, rooting and forming mats; branchlets glabrous to puberulent. LEAVES: oblanceolate to obovate; blades 1-2.5 cm long, 0.3-1 cm wide, dark green above, light green below, glabrous; bases wedge-shaped; tips rounded, not mucronate; margins entire; petiolate 2-5 mm long, glandular (Fig. 3). INFLORESCENCE: simple or fewbranched racemes, densely puberulent; bracts acuminate, 1.5-4 mm long. FLOWERS: 4.5-8 mm long; sepals with reflexed lobes, 1-2 mm long; corollas white to pink, 4.5-8 mm long, urceolate; ovaries glabrous. FRUITS: depressed globose, 6- 12 mm wide, bright red, glabrous. 2n = 26. NOTES: Ground cover under coniferous forests in dry to moist sites: Apache Co. (Fig. 1B); 2300-3000 m (7600-9900 ft); May-Aug; Lukachukai Mts in AZ, circumboreal. REFERENCES: John L. Anderson , 2008, Vascular Plants of Arizona: Ericaceae. CANOTIA 4 (2): 21-30.
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
Restricted to the dune area about Lake Michigan, with the exception of one small colony which I found in dense shade in sandy soil in the Margaret Trasker woods about two and a half miles southeast of Union Mills in La Porte County, where it was associated with black and white oaks. It is local but usually forms large mats when established and not disturbed.
Indiana Coefficient of Conservatism: C = 10
Wetland Indicator Status: UPL
Common Name: mealberry Duration: Perennial Nativity: Native Lifeform: Shrub General: Evergreen prostrate, mat-forming shrub, 0.1-0.3 m (0.5-1 ft) tall; branches trailing, the tips often ascending to 15 cm high; twigs sparingly tomentose or with long glandular hairs. Bark smooth, thin, dark reddish brown, tardily exfoliating. Leaves: Alternate, simple, oblanceolate to oblong-ovate, 1-2.5 cm long, 0.3-1.2 cm wide, dark green and shiny above, paler below, glabrous or commonly with pubescent margins and midrib, margins entire and often rolled under, base cuneate, apex rounded; petiole 1-5 mm long, pubescent, sometimes glandular. Flowers: Inflorescence a few-flowered raceme, the axis often pubescent; pedicel 3-4 mm long, glabrous; sepals broadly ovate, 1 mm long, glabrous; corolla urn-shaped, 4-5 mm long, pink to white; bracts linear-acuminate, 2-6 mm long, firm, glandular. Fruits: Berry-like drupe, flattened-globose, 6-10 mm in diameter, bright red, glabrous. Ecology: Found in coniferous forests from 7,000-12,000 ft (2134-3658 m), flowers March-May. Distribution: Apache County (Lukachukai Mountains); Canada, western, north- central, and northeastern U.S. Notes: Kinnikinnick provides browse for wild ungulates and fruit for birds and mammals. It is intolerant of shade, but is used as an ornamental and for erosion control. It will sprout after fires of low to moderate intensity and is thought to bank seeds in the soil. It can be propagated by stem cuttings and by seed. Ethnobotany: The dried leaves of this species are used as the base ingredient in ceremonial and recreational smoking mixtures and the fruits are edible. Editor: Springer et al. 2011
Prostrate shrub, forming mats to 1 m wide; lvs leathery, evergreen, oblanceolate to oblong-obovate, 1-3 cm, obtuse or rounded, entire, tapering to the base; sep broadly ovate, 1.5 mm; cor commonly white or tinged with pink, 4-6 mm; fr bright red, dry or mealy, inedible, 6-10 mm, the 5 nutlets partly or usually wholly concrescent. Sandy or rocky soil. May, June. (Uva-ursi uva-ursi) Circumboreal, in N. Amer. from Lab. to Alas., s. to Va., n. Ind., Ill., N.M., and Calif. Variable, especially in pubescence, but not taxonomically divisible, the differences reflecting combinations of genetic and environmental factors.
Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.