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Vaccinium oxycoccos L.

Small cranberry

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderEricalesTea, persimmon, blueberry, Brazil nut, azalea, many others
FamilyEricaceaeHeath or heather family
GenusVacciniumAncient Latin name for billberry
SpeciesoxycoccosOld Latin name for “acid-berry”

About plant names...

The small cranberry likes acidic bogs, like its cousin the large cranberry.

Identification: Small cranberries form mats of tiny shrubs only a few centimeters in height. Leaf edges are rolled under. Leaves are opposite, roughly oval (ovate), wider at the base, pointed at the tip. Flowers are dark pink, and four-petaled, with the petals bending way back to the stem ("reflexed"). Small cranberry fruits are less than ½″ (1.3 cm) in diameter, while large cranberries are more than ½″ (1.3 cm) in diameter. Both are deep red when ripe.

Vaccinium oxycoccos (small cranberry)

Small cranberry leaves are curved. From dic.academic.ru.

This Vaccinium comparison chart also includes a couple of similar-appearing species that are not Vaccinium.

Edibility: Fruit is edible, raw or cooked, although it is very tart when raw. The tartness is usually tempered with sugar.

Online References:

The Ecology of Commanster

The Connecticut Botanical Society's Connecticut wildflowers site



Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

The Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center


The USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database


Oxycoccus hagerupii Á. Löve & D. Löve

Oxycoccus intermedius (A. Gray) Rydb.

Oxycoccus microcarpos Turcz. ex Rupr.

Oxycoccus ovalifolius (Michx.) A.E. Porsild

Oxycoccus oxycoccos (L.) MacMill.

Oxycoccus oxycoccos (L.) Adolphi

Oxycoccus palustris Pers.

Oxycoccus palustris Pers. var. intermedius (A. Gray) Howell

Oxycoccus palustris Pers. ssp. microphyllus (Lange) Á. Löve & D. Löve

Oxycoccus palustris Pers. var. ovalifolius (Michx.) Seymour

Oxycoccus quadripetalus Gilib.

Oxycoccus quadripetalus Gilib. var. microphyllus (Lange) A.E. Porsild

Vaccinium microcarpos (Turcz. ex Rupr.) Schmalh.

Vaccinium oxycoccos L. var. intermedium A. Gray

Vaccinium oxycoccos L. var. microphyllum (Lange) J. Rousseau & Raymond

Vaccinium oxycoccos L. ssp. microphyllum (Lange) J. Feilberg

Vaccinium oxycoccos L. var. ovalifolium Michx.


Vaccinium oxycoccos description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 25 May 2020.

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Vaccinium oxycoccos (small cranberry)

See the frog? · 9/20/2009 · Wild Gardens of Acadia, Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine · ≈ 12 × 17″ (29 × 44 cm)

Vaccinium oxycoccos (small cranberry)

9/20/2009 · Wild Gardens of Acadia, Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, Maine · ≈ 1½ × 1′ (52 × 34 cm)


About this map...