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Oxycoccus palustris Pers.

Small Cranberry

Modern name

Vaccinium oxycoccos L.


Vaccinium oxycoccos L.; O. quadripetala Gilib.

A prostrate, evergreen shrub with long, thin, wiry stems. Leaves ovate, 14 to 38 in. long, pointed, dark green above, very glaucous beneath. Flowers nodding, produced during summer in a terminal cluster of up to four, each flower on a slender downy stalk, 34 to 1 in. long. Petals rosy pink, bent backwards, 14 in. long. Berries red, globose, 13 in. across.

Native of N. and Central Europe, N. Asia, and N. America; widely spread in the British Isles, but most abundant in the north of England and the south of Scotland. At one time the gathering of cranberries was a considerable industry for women and children of that part of Great Britain, and in some of the markets of the northern towns (at Longtown in Cumberland, near the Solway Firth, for instance), £30 worth of cranberries would be sold in a day. But the draining and enclosing of boggy land induced by the high prices for corn during and after the Napoleonic wars destroyed many extensive and favourite haunts of the cranberry, and the plant is much less abundant than in former times. The berries are perhaps the most pleasantly flavoured of wild fruits.

O. microcarpus Turcz. ex Rupr. Vaccinium oxycoccos var. microcarpum (Turcz.) Aschers & Graebn. – Allied to the preceding, but with smaller, triangular-ovate leaves 18 to 316 in. long, glabrous flower-stalks and the fruits oblong or inversely pear-shaped. The total distribution of this species is not known for certain; it appears to be mainly confined to Siberia and N. Europe (including Scotland), but has been reported from a few localities in the mountains of Central Europe.



Other species in the genus