Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is a small procumbent woody groundcover shrub 5–30 cm high. The leaves are evergreen, remaining green for 1–3 years before falling. The leaves were a traditional ceremonial smoking herb used by tribes such as the Chippewa, Blackfoot, Pawnee, Navajo and Cheyenne. It was sometimes mixed with tobacco or possibly even lobelia inflata and mugwort. The fruit is a red berry, known as Bearberry, which has historically been used for medicinal purposes. It contains the glycoside arbutin, which has antimicrobial properties that may help clean the urinary tract, and it acts as a mild diuretic. Bearberry has been used for urinary tract complaints, including cystitis and urolithiasis. An infusion may be made by soaking the leaves in ethanol and then diluting with water. In the 19th century before the introduction of sulfa drugs and modern antibiotics, it was among the few herbal drugs with antibacterial properties, but some constituents, such as thehydroquinones are hepatotoxic, and in cases of urinary tract infections, more pertinent treatment options are recommended. We also offer dried Kinnikinnick leaf.
Growing Information: Terminal clusters of small urn-shaped flowers bloom from May to June. The perfect flowers are white to pink, and bear round, fleshy or mealy, bright red to pink fruits called drupes. This smooth, glossy skinned fruit will range from 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter. The fruit will persist on the plant into early winter. Each drupe contains 1 to 5 hard seeds, which need to be scarified and stratified prior to germination to reduce the seed coat and break embryo dormancy. There is an average of 40,900 cleaned seeds per pound.
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