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SPECIES:  Vaccinium oxycoccos
Small cranberry. Wikimedia Commons image by ROland zh.


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: []. Revisions: On 29 August 2018, the common name of this species was changed in FEIS from: bog cranberry to: small cranberry. Images were also added.
ABBREVIATION: VACOXY SYNONYMS: Oxycoccos microcarpus Turcz. Oxycoccos palustris Persh Oxycoccos oxycoccos MacM. Oxycoccos quadripetalus Gilib. Oxycoccos intermedius Rydb. Vaccinium oxycoccos var. microcarpus (Turcz.) Fedtsh. & Flerov. Vaccinium oxycoccos var. ovalifolium Michx. Vaccinium oxycoccos var. intermedium Gray [20,24,36,50] NRCS PLANT CODE: VAOX COMMON NAMES: small cranberry bog cranberry swamp cranberry wild cranberry TAXONOMY: The scientific name of small 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]. LIFE FORM: Shrub FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS: No special status OTHER STATUS: Small cranberry is listed as endangered in Ohio by the Natural Heritage Program [54]. It is considered threatened in Illinois [46]. The variety ovalifolium is classified as rare in Nova Scotia and New England [36,41].


SPECIES: Vaccinium oxycoccos
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION: Small 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. Small cranberry is also found in Europe and Asia [11,20,44,50].
Distribution of small cranberry in North America. Map courtesy of USDA, NRCS. 2018. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC. [2018, August 29] [47].
   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

   1  Northern Pacific Border
   2  Cascade Mountains

   K004  Fir - hemlock forest
   K093  Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
   K094  Conifer bog
   K095  Great Lakes pine forest
   K096  Northeastern spruce - fir forest

     1  Jack pine
     5  Balsam fir
    12  Black spruce
    13  Black spruce - tamarack
    38  Tamarack
   107  White spruce
   201  White spruce
   204  Black spruce
   253  Black spruce - white spruce

Small cranberry is classified as an indicator of moist to very wet,
nitrogen-poor soils and high surface groundwater [25].  It is also an
indicator of coniferous swamps [37].  Small cranberry is not listed as a
dominant or codominant understory species in published classification


SPECIES: Vaccinium oxycoccos
IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE: Small cranberry is of limited use to wildlife. It is not utilized as browse by big game animals [9]. A few bird species including Hudsonian godwits, sharp-tailed grouse, and ring-necked pheasants eat small cranberry fruits [30,39,48]. Small mammals such as chipmunks, squirrels, rabbits, and hares may occasionally utilize the berries. PALATABILITY: Small cranberry fruits are presumably moderately palatable [21,50]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE: NO-ENTRY COVER VALUE: NO-ENTRY VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES: The value of small cranberry for rehabilitation of disturbed sites is not well documented. It has, however, been successfully transplanted to a saline-impacted bog in Indiana [53]. OTHER USES AND VALUES: Small 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 [35]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: Commercial cultivation of small cranberry is not widespread in the United States but is important in Russia. Cultivation experiments have shown that small cranberry grows well in acid peat substrates [19]. It does not respond well to transplanting [13]. Small cranberries are of local commercial importance [5], 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 [23]. As bog or fen areas are drained and cleared, wetland species such as sphagnum mosses and small cranberry are replaced by vegetation that indicates drier conditions and the cessation of peat formation [28]. Small cranberry is susceptible to many different fungal diseases [42].


SPECIES: Vaccinium oxycoccos
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS: Small 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 [12]. 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 small cranberry is found [49]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM: Chamaephyte Cryptophyte (geophyte) REGENERATION PROCESSES: Vegetative regeneration is the most important mode of reproduction of small cranberry. It can also establish by seed; seedlings, however, are rare [6]. Small cranberry is self-pollinating, but pollination by insects (especially bees) increases seed production [34]. 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) [40]. Seeds are dispersed by birds and animals that eat small cranberry fruits [49]. Small cranberry regenerates vegetatively by sprouting from rhizomes and by layering [1,2,13,50]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS: Small cranberry is found in ombrotrophic sphagnum bogs and minerotrophic fens in moist coastal and boreal forests [4,17,18,50]. Small 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 [4]. Bogs are generally level but are often patterned by scattered mounds of sphagnum moss. Small cranberry often grows on these hummocks. Small cranberry is found in cool-temperate to cool-mesothermal climates [25]. 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 nigra). 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 mosses. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS: Small 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 [12]. In bog development however, small 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]. Small cranberry is shade intolerant [25], and is generally only present as a relic in climax bogs that have developed a conifer overstory [16]. SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT: Small cranberry flowers emerge from June to July. Fruits ripen from August to October [44,50]. The berries often persist through the winter [48].


SPECIES: Vaccinium oxycoccos
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS: Members of the family Ericaceae easily regenerate from rhizomes following fire [8]. Small cranberry is able to survive low- to moderate-severity fires because rhizomes are found well below the surface of the bog [12]. Small cranberry can utilize ash nutrients for rapid growth, preventing additional nutrient loss from the burn site [14]. Wildfires are infrequent in the wet or saturated habitats that small cranberry generally occupies [51]. 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 small cranberry. Severe fires that remove the underlying sphagnum layer generally kill underground reproductive organs [52]. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE: Small cranberry sprouts from rhizomes following fire [13]. It generally becomes more abundant with repeated fires [12]. In the Acadian Forest Region of Maine, small cranberry in tamarack (Larix laricina) bogs increased after a prescribed fire. Prior to burning, small cranberry stems were present at less than .09 per square foot (1/sq m). Within 5 months following the fire, the number of small cranberry stems had increased via rhizome sprouting to 2.7 per square foot (29/sq m) [13]. After a prescribed fire in northern Wisconsin, increased fruit and seed production and active succulent green growth was observed in small cranberry. The plant flowered and fruited profusely within 1 to 3 years following the fire [52]. 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". FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS: Prescribed burning is the recommended management tool for the sites that small cranberry inhabits [22]. Fire reduces tall shrub cover, which allows low shrub species to persist in bogs [46]. Burning produces a retrogression from a bog forest dominated by trees to an open sphagnum bog dominated by sedges and shrubs such as small cranberry [52]. Without fire, small cranberry eventually is shaded out by taller shrub and tree species. Commercial cranberry growers often use fire to maintain bogs and increase fruiting of small cranberry [52].


SPECIES: Vaccinium oxycoccos
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