American cranberry fruit
Kristine Paulus, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
American cranberry leaves
jillllybean, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons


American cranberry is a low growing, trailing, evergreen shrub native to the temperate zones of eastern North America. As a woody perennial vine, it spreads by rhizomes one to six feet in length, forming a thick mat. It's found in wet bogs with acidic soil, tolerates wet feet, but should normally be well drained during the growing season. Because the plant thrives on a special recipe of soils made in wetlands, it requires unique soil and growing techniques when grown comercially as a food crop.

Glossy, leathery, ovate leaves densely cover branches; undersides are whitish. This perennial keeps its leaves in the winter turning copper to purple an is considered a broadleaf evergreen. Short, leaf bearing vertical branches protrude from low runners. These hold, flowers and fruit usually near their tips. Fuchsia pink blooms occur from May to June, are self pollinating, and attract pollinators. Red to dark purple half inch diameter berries follow and mature from August to November. The fruit is eaten by birds and and sometimes small animals; leaves are food for the bog copper butterfly.

Transplanting is difficult and the shrub is susceptible to a number of pests and diseases. It does best in best in full sun, tolerates part shade, and is not tolerant of heat and drought. For these reasons, along with the special water and soil requirements, American cranberry considered a somewhat high maintenance plant to grow.


Canadensys. (2020). Vaccinium macrocarpon Aiton. Retrieved from

Missouri Botanical Garden. (n.d.). Vaccinium macrocarpon 'Thunderlake'. Retrieved from

University of Massachusetts Amherst. Natural History of the American Cranberry, Vaccinium macrocarpon Ait. Retrieved from

Natural Resource Conservation Service. (n.d.). Vaccinium macrocarpon Aiton. Retrieved from

NC State Extension. (n.d.). Vaccinium macrocarpon. Retrieved from

Growing From Seed

Growing from seed is one of the most economical and satisfying ways to build a native plant garden. The table shows brief planting instructions, including how long and what kind of stratification this plant needs. For further information on stratification and seed preparation please refer to our article: Preparing To Grow Wild Plant Seeds

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Growing From Plants

Seedlings are a more economical option than established plants and an easier start than growing from seed. Our plants are shipped in soil blocks or plug trays. Plants do surprizingly well in the mail but need special care upon arrival. Please see Planting Mail Order Seedlings for information on how to plant and care for seedlings.


We currently ship within the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta, and it usually takes 2-5 business days in the mail once shipped. Seeds ship year-round. Plants are generally available from May to September and can be reserved during off season; Shipping costs are calculated during checkout. Seed orders over $100 ship free! See Shipping for more details.