Index of Species Information
SPECIES: Vaccinium oxycoccos
SPECIES: Vaccinium oxycoccos
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION :
Matthews, Robin F. 1992. Vaccinium oxycoccos. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online].
U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station,
Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available:
Oxycoccos microcarpus Turcz.
Oxycoccos palustris Persh
Oxycoccos oxycoccos MacM.
Oxycoccos quadripetalus Gilib.
Oxycoccos intermedius Rydb.
SCS PLANT CODE :
COMMON NAMES :
The currently accepted scientific name of bog cranberry is Vaccinium
oxycoccos Linnaeus [20,24,31,50], in the family Ericaceae. The
taxonomically complex genus Vaccinium has been divided into a number of
subgenera or sections. The cranberry genera is often segregated as the
subgenus or genus Oxycoccos [1,21,36,41]. Several authorities recognize
the following varieties [20,24,36,50]:
Vaccinium oxycoccos var. microcarpus (Turcz.) Fedtsh. & Flerov.
Vaccinium oxycoccos var. ovalifolium Michx.
Vaccinium oxycoccos var. intermedium Gray
LIFE FORM :
FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS :
No special status
OTHER STATUS :
Bog cranberry is listed as endangered in Ohio by the Natural Heritage
Program . It is considered threatened in Illinois . The
variety ovalifolium is classified as rare in Nova Scotia and New England
DISTRIBUTION AND OCCURRENCE
SPECIES: Vaccinium oxycoccos
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION :
Bog cranberry is distributed throughout Alaska and across Canada to
Labrador, Greenland, and Newfoundland. It also occurs south through New
England, the northern portions of the Great Lakes States, and western
Washington and Oregon. Bog cranberry is also found in Europe and Asia
FRES10 White - red - jack pine
FRES11 Spruce - fir
FRES23 Fir - spruce
AK CT ID IL IN ME MD MA MI MN
NH NJ NY NC OH OR PA RI VT VA
WA WV WI AB BC LB MB NB NF NT
NS ON PE PQ SK YT
BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :
1 Northern Pacific Border
2 Cascade Mountains
KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :
K004 Fir - hemlock forest
K093 Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
K094 Conifer bog
K095 Great Lakes pine forest
K096 Northeastern spruce - fir forest
SAF COVER TYPES :
1 Jack pine
5 Balsam fir
12 Black spruce
13 Black spruce - tamarack
107 White spruce
201 White spruce
204 Black spruce
253 Black spruce - white spruce
SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES :
HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES :
Bog cranberry is classified as an indicator of moist to very wet,
nitrogen-poor soils and high surface groundwater . It is also an
indicator of coniferous swamps . Bog cranberry is not listed as a
dominant or codominant understory species in published classification
SPECIES: Vaccinium oxycoccos
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE :
Bog cranberry is of limited use to wildlife. It is not utilized as
browse by big game animals . A few bird species including Hudsonian
godwits, sharp-tailed grouse, and ring-necked pheasants eat bog
cranberry fruits [30,39,48]. Small mammals such as chipmunks,
squirrels, rabbits, and hares may occasionally utilize the berries.
Bog cranberry fruits are presumably moderately palatable [21,50].
NUTRITIONAL VALUE :
COVER VALUE :
VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES :
The value of bog cranberry for rehabilitation of disturbed sites is not
well documented. It has, however, been successfully transplanted to a
saline-impacted bog in Indiana .
OTHER USES AND VALUES :
Bog cranberry fruits have good flavor and are often used to make jams
and jellies. However, they are seldom abundant enough to be gathered in
large quantities [21,50]. Native Americans used the berries, twigs, and
bark for medicinal purposes .
OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
Commercial cultivation of bog cranberry is not widespread in the United
States but is important in Russia. Cultivation experiments have shown
that bog cranberry grows well in acid peat substrates . It does not
respond well to transplanting .
Bog cranberries are of local commercial importance , and berry
picking provides recreation for many people. However, decreased fruit
production has resulted from the draining of bogs for agricultural
purposes or to access timber . As bog or fen areas are drained
and cleared, wetland species such as sphagnum mosses and bog cranberry
are replaced by vegetation that indicates drier conditions and the
cessation of peat formation .
Bog cranberry is susceptible to many different fungal diseases .
BOTANICAL AND ECOLOGICAL CHARACTERISTICS
SPECIES: Vaccinium oxycoccos
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS :
Bog cranberry is a very small, prostrate, evergreen shrub. The slender
stems are vinelike, and root at the nodes. The lance-shaped leaves are
leathery and have revolute margins. Pink to red flowers are borne
singly or in clusters at the ends of stems. The fruit is a red, juicy
berry [1,21,50]. Underground perennating structures are generally well
below the soil surface . Mycorrhizal associations exist on
unsuberized portions of the roots and allow for improved plant nutrient
levels and growth rates in the acid or peat soil in which bog cranberry
is found .
RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM :
REGENERATION PROCESSES :
Vegetative regeneration is the most important mode of reproduction of
bog cranberry. It can also establish by seed; seedlings, however, are
Bog cranberry is self-pollinating, but pollination by insects
(especially bees) increases seed production . Cranberry (Vaccinium
spp. sec. Oxycoccos) seeds do not germinate immediately after berries
become ripe, but dormancy can be overcome by afterripening. Storage of
seeds at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 deg C) for 6 to 7 months allows for
germination of seeds at 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 deg C) .
Seeds are dispersed by birds and animals that eat bog cranberry fruits
Bog cranberry regenerates vegetatively by sprouting from rhizomes and by
SITE CHARACTERISTICS :
Bog cranberry is found in ombrotrophic sphagnum bogs and minerotrophic
fens in moist coastal and boreal forests [4,17,18,50]. Bog cranberry
grows on peat in these poorly drained, subhygric to hygric sites that
have a very high water table [7,27,32,38]. The ground may be saturated
for most or part of the year. The bog sites derive water from
precipitation only and are generally nutrient-poor and low in
productivity. The soil is very acidic and pH ranges from about 2.9 to
4.7 [7,17,32]. Since fen water is derived from ground water as well as
precipitation, the fen sites are more ion-rich, and therefore, more
alkaline. The soil pH ranges from about 6.0 to 7.5 [4,17,43]. These
sites are generally not as nutrient-poor since the environment is more
favorable for decomposer species . Bogs are generally level but are
often patterned by scattered mounds of sphagnum moss. Bog cranberry
often grows on these hummocks. Bog cranberry is found in cool-temperate
to cool-mesothermal climates .
Associated tree species include: eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis),
western hemlock (T. heterophylla), northern white cedar (Thuja
occidentalis), western redcedar (T. plicata), Alaska cedar
(Chamaecyparis nootkatensis), Altantic white cedar (C. thyoides),
quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides), balsam poplar (P. balsamifera),
swamp birch (Betula pumila), bog birch (B. glandulosa), paper birch (B.
papyrifera), yellow birch (B. alleghaniensis), and black ash (Fraxinus
Associated understory species include: leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne
calyculata), bog rosemary (Andromeda glaucophylla), bog laurel (Kalmia
polifolia), pitcher plant (Sarracenia purpurea), Labrador tea (Ledum
groenlandicum), cloudberry (Rubus chamaemorus), rhodora (Rhododendron
canadense), glossy buckthorn (Rhamnus frangula), sundew (Drosera spp.),
cottonsedge (Eriophorum virginatum and E. angustifolium), and various
sedges (Carex spp.), lichens (Cladina and Cladonia spp.), and sphagnum
SUCCESSIONAL STATUS :
Bog cranberry can be an early colonizer in secondary succession but is
generally associated with mid-seral stages of primary succession. It is
one of the first colonizers of burned bogs and increases in abundance
with repeated fires . In bog development however, bog cranberry
becomes more abundant after an initial sedge mat has formed. It is most
important in the sphagnum community stage, which consists mainly of
sphagnum mosses and ericaceous shrubs [6,16,45]. Bog cranberry is shade
intolerant , and is generally only present as a relic in climax bogs
that have developed a conifer overstory .
SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT :
Bog cranberry flowers emerge from June to July. Fruits ripen from
August to October [44,50]. The berries often persist through the winter
SPECIES: Vaccinium oxycoccos
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS :
Members of the family Ericaceae easily regenerate from rhizomes
following fire . Bog cranberry is able to survive low- to
moderate-severity fires because rhizomes are found well below the
surface of the bog . Bog cranberry can utilize ash nutrients for
rapid growth, preventing additional nutrient loss from the burn site
. Wildfires are infrequent in the wet or saturated habitats that
bog cranberry generally occupies .
FIRE REGIMES :
Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this
species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under
"Find Fire Regimes".
POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :
survivor species; on-site surviving rhizomes
off-site colonizer; seed carried by animals or water; postfire yr 1&2
SPECIES: Vaccinium oxycoccos
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT :
Fire usually top-kills bog cranberry. Severe fires that remove the
underlying sphagnum layer generally kill underground reproductive
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT :
PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE :
Bog cranberry sprouts from rhizomes following fire . It generally
becomes more abundant with repeated fires . In the Acadian Forest
Region of Maine, bog cranberry in tamarack (Larix laricina) bogs
increased after a prescribed fire. Prior to burning, bog cranberry
stems were present at less than .09 per square foot (1/sq m). Within 5
months following the fire, the number of bog cranberry stems had
increased via rhizome sprouting to 2.7 per square foot (29/sq m) .
After a prescribed fire in northern Wisconsin, increased fruit and seed
production and active succulent green growth was observed in bog
cranberry. The plant flowered and fruited profusely within 1 to 3 years
following the fire .
DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE :
FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS :
Prescribed burning is the recommended management tool for the sites that
bog cranberry inhabits . Fire reduces tall shrub cover, which
allows low shrub species to persist in bogs . Burning produces a
retrogression from a bog forest dominated by trees to an open sphagnum
bog dominated by sedges and shrubs such as bog cranberry . Without
fire, bog cranberry eventually is shaded out by taller shrub and tree
Commercial cranberry growers often use fire to maintain bogs and
increase fruiting of bog cranberry .
SPECIES: Vaccinium oxycoccos
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