Bearberry or Bear Ears: planting and care in the open field, application

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Bearberry or Bear Ears: planting and care in the open field, application
Bearberry or Bear Ears: planting and care in the open field, application

Characteristics of the bearberry plant, how to plant and care in a garden plot, breeding rules, possible difficulties in care, application and interesting notes, types.

Bearberry (Arctostaphylos) belongs to the genus of plants belonging to the Heather family (Ericaceae). These representatives of the flora have the peculiarity of growing successfully in the arctic and subarctic climatic zone. The main territories of natural distribution fall on the North American continent, as well as the northern regions of Europe, Siberia and the central American regions. The genus includes about 60 species.

Family name Heather
Growing period Perennial
Vegetation form Shrub
Breeds Seeds and vegetatively (cuttings, parts of a bush)
Open ground transplant terms In the spring before growth begins or in the fall when it ends
Landing rules Planting 25-30 cm on a plant, preferably high beds
Priming Light and nutritious, loose, well-drained
Soil acidity values, pH 4, 5-5, 5 (sour)
Illumination level A place with good and bright lighting, partial shade is also suitable
Humidity level Drought-resistant, waterlogging is unacceptable
Special care rules Non-alkaline fertilizers are recommended
Height options 0.05-6 m
Flowering period Late April to June
Type of inflorescences or flowers Bunched or racemose inflorescences
Color of flowers White or pale pink
Fruit type Dark red berry
The timing of fruit ripening Late summer or September
Decorative period Year-round
Application in landscape design On alpine slides and rockeries, it is possible to form curbs or hedges
USDA zone 3 and higher

The genus got its name in Latin due to the combination of a pair of words in Greek "arktos" and "stafyli", which translates as "bear" and "tongue" or "vine", respectively, reflecting the shape of bearberry leaves. In the people you can hear how the plant is called "bear vine" and "bear", "bear grapes" and "sterile", as well as "flour" and "tartar". The most famous is the bear berry. References to this specimen of the green world as a medicine are found in the earliest writings of Greek and Roman healers.

This representative of heathers, coming from the northern regions of the planet, looks like a shrub or a small tree, the shoots of which can creep along the soil surface and even "braid" almost completely all the surrounding meadows.


The closest of the green "relatives" of bearberry are cranberries and lingonberries, belonging to the same family and preferring the same places of natural growth.

If bearberry has a woody vegetative form, then the plant height does not exceed 6 m. In the shrub form, the stem height values ​​start from 5 cm. Most of the species of "bear ears" are evergreen representatives of the flora, and only one of them is deprived of its hardwood mass. Thin twigs have a brown, grayish-brown tint, while in the lower part, a gray (almost ashy) color is acquired by most of the shoots.

Bearberry leaf plates are characterized by oval outlines, with a base elongated into a petiole and a blunt apex. The leaves are small in size, with length parameters varying in the range of 1-7 cm.They are located on the branches in a spiral order. The color of the deciduous mass is a rich green hue. The surface of the leaves is glossy, smooth and rather dense.

When bearberry blooms, flowers with bell-shaped corollas are formed. The color of the petals in them is white or pale pinkish. Small inflorescences are formed from the flowers, resembling bunches or brushes. In each of these inflorescences, you can count from a couple to two dozen buds. The blooming process of "bear ears" occurs in the spring period (from April to June).

When bearberry flowers are pollinated, small fruits are formed in the form of berries. Berries ripen in the summer or already in the fall. There are species, the fruits of which can be used for food. Berries of "bear grass" have a tart taste with some sourness. The color of the berries is very bright - red or dark red. The fruits are a real decoration of the plant.

Such a shrub is not difficult to care for, but it can be used in cultivation not only for medicinal purposes, but also for decorative purposes, becoming the real pride of the garden.

How to plant and care for bearberry outdoors?

Bearberry grows
  1. Landing place "Bear vine" should be well lit, but the plant can withstand the location and with partial shade. It is best to arrange the beds for bearberry on a flat area, so that there is no possibility of moisture stagnation, which can harm the root system of the bushes. It is also worth providing for the absence of proximity to the occurrence of groundwater.
  2. Soil for bearberry it is necessary to select only acidic so that the acidity values ​​are in the range of pH 4, 5–5, 5. If the substrate at the chosen place does not have such an acid reaction, then special beds and the corresponding soil mixture should be prepared for planting the plant. You can also increase the acidity of the soil by introducing high peat and pine needles into it in a ratio of 5: 2. Some gardeners for the cultivation of "bear berries" form high beds so that the plant is not exposed to waterlogging of the soil, but the substrate itself was selected in accordance with the natural preferences of the plant.
  3. Planting bearberry. For planting "bear ears", the spring time is suitable, when the growing processes have not yet begun, or in the autumn months, when the growing season is over. A furrow is formed in the selected area using a bayonet shovel, the depth and width of which will be equal to the bayonet of the garden tool. The first layer in the trench is high-moor peat, which can be replaced with ordinary soil with forest litter. The best solution would be to use fallen needles, since its introduction will make the soil mixture more acidic and will help to loosen the soil. In addition, river sand, which is usually found in places where bearberry grows, is added to the substrate for looseness. For planting, specially grown seedlings of "bear berries" or bushes dug out in the forest are taken. When transplanting, the transshipment method should be used when the earthen lump surrounding the root system of the seedling does not collapse. After planting, the soil is gently squeezed around and abundant watering is carried out. To exclude the rapid evaporation of moisture, as well as to prevent the rapid growth of weeds, it is recommended to mulch the planted bearberry bushes. To do this, you can use peat chips, pine needles or sawdust. To make the plants comfortable in the garden, they are placed at a distance of 25-30 cm from each other. Over time, the shoots of "bear ears" will grow and fill all the free space.
  4. Fertilizers for bearberry. When growing a "bear vine", do not overdo it, as this will lead to the rapid growth of weeds, which can drown out the bushes, and they, in turn, will stop growing (bearberry does not tolerate an excess of fertilizer dosage).It is better to fertilize the planted bushes after they have fully adapted, but if the plants are already on the site, then spring may be the time for feeding. After each application of drugs, it is recommended to water. It is not recommended to add manure or chicken droppings to the beds, these fertilizers have an alkaline reaction and can easily "burn" the plant. To fertilize bearberry, it is necessary to use potassium sulfate, ammonium sulfate and double granular superphosphate in proportions of 3: 7: 6 grams per 1 m2.
  5. Watering when caring for bearberry, it should be carried out so that the soil always remains in a slightly damp state. The plant does not at all tolerate drying out of the soil, but also its swamping. This aspect is most important when growing bear ears. For normal growth, sprinkler irrigation or drip irrigation should be used and constantly mulch the soil under the bushes. When growing bearberry to obtain a berry harvest, it is especially important to pay attention to watering when the fruits ripen. It is during this period that flower buds are laid for the next vegetative period. If there is not enough moisture for the plants, then the future harvest will not be high.
  6. Bearberry pruning necessary when you plan to get more leaves. If the branches are not cut enough, then the processes of dying off of the shoots will go faster in the shrub. Very little green mass is produced when pruning is done excessively. It is recommended to select the time for pruning in early spring. Then you should shorten the most elongated and oversized branches. It is better not to disturb young shoots.
  7. Wintering. So that the bushes of "bear ears" when grown in the northern regions or in the middle lane are not damaged by frost, it is recommended to cover them with the arrival of November. But even in the southern regions, such a shelter is useful, since often there is little snow there in winter, in early spring frosts can cause the death of a bearberry. Spruce branches will act as a shelter for the bushes, on top of which a non-woven material (for example, spunbond) is thrown. Spruce or pine paws are also placed on top.
  8. Collection berries and bearberry foliage is held twice a year. The first one occurs in early spring, while flowering has not yet started, the second time you can harvest the fruits after they are fully ripe - in late autumn. To make it easier to collect leaves or berries, use pointed scissors or pruning shears to cut the upper parts of the branches. The length of such segments should not exceed 3 cm. After the collection has been carried out, the next time the bearberry shoot can be used for cutting only after a three-year period, so that it recovers sufficiently. According to scientists from Germany, in order to remove such a substance as arbutin from the collected biomaterial of "bear ears", it is recommended to fill the twigs with water and soak there a little. Arbutin, emerging from the leaves and fruits of bearberry, will remain in the water, leaving only tannins in them. The solution thus obtained can then be used for treatment after 24 hours.
  9. Drying bearberry. After the raw materials have been collected, it is recommended to properly prepare them for storage. The collected biomass can be dried by spreading it out under a canopy in the fresh air, on a clean cloth with a not too thick layer, or in a room where high-quality ventilation is provided. This can also be done using a vegetable dryer, with the temperature set to 60 degrees. An indicator that the bearberry foliage has dried sufficiently is its fragility. It has no smell, but the taste is bitter and astringent. Then all leaf plates are removed from the branches and placed in linen or paper bags. You can decompose the foliage in small portions for immediate use. Such dried material is stored in cool, dark and low humidity conditions.If these conditions are met, the foliage does not lose its properties for 5 years.
  10. The use of bearberry in landscape design. It is possible to grow this representative of the flora not only for medicinal needs, but also as an ornamental crop. Bushes of "bear berry" can be planted in rock gardens and rockeries, where the plant with its shoots is able to form dense "cushion" thickets, which will be decorated with bright fruits in autumn. There are designers who manage to form curbs or hedges from bushes. The best neighbors for bearberry will be a variety of representatives of the "green world", for example, you can plant asters and thyme, barberries and lavender, boxwood, St. John's wort and sunflowers nearby. Of the taller plants, bear grass looks good next to firs and yews.

See also recommendations for growing brukentalia in the garden, flower care.

Bearberry breeding rules

Bearberry in the ground

To grow bear ears on your plot, it is recommended to carry out seed or vegetative propagation. The latter method involves grafting, dividing an overgrown bush or jigging daughter shoots (young bushes).

  1. Bearberry propagation by cuttings. This method is the most effective, but it is also more complex. This is because cuttings for rooting should be planted in mini-greenhouses, with sustained humidity and temperature, which is constantly around 25 degrees. Blanks for grafting in length should be at least 10 cm. Before planting, the cut should be treated with any root stimulator (such as heteroauxinic acid or Kornevin). The soil for the cuttings is selected nutritious, but loose (for example, a peat-sand mixture). Only when new leaves begin to develop on the cuttings are bearberry seedlings ready for transplantation to a permanent place of growth. The recommended planting time is spring, after the return frosts have receded.
  2. Bearberry propagation by dividing the bush. This method is good in that the delenki can be immediately planted in a prepared place in the garden. For this, the plant is removed from the ground and with the help of a sharpened shovel, its part is separated - a cut. Such a seedling must have a sufficient number of root shoots and shoots. If the division of the "bear vine" is too shallow, it will make it difficult for it to take root. All cuts must be treated with charcoal powder before planting to avoid contamination. After planting, watering and mulching of the soil under the bush is necessary.
  3. Bearberry propagation by daughter offspring. Over time, young bushes appear next to the parent plant "bear ears". They can be separated from the root system of the mother bush and planted in a place prepared in advance in the garden or in the garden according to the above rules.
  4. Bearberry propagation using seeds. This method is complicated by the fact that it is required to find good seeds for sowing, which are often possible to obtain only from the collected fruits of wild plants of the "bear vine". Germination of such seed is also difficult. But if everything succeeds, then the seedlings grown in this way will be the most adapted to the area where they are planned to grow.

See also ways to breed heather.

Possible difficulties in caring for bearberry


The process of growing "bear berries" can be complicated by the occurrence of fungal diseases. This is because watering can be too abundant or it is rainy weather for a long time. This can provoke fungal infections such as powdery mildew, gray or root rot. In the first case, bearberry leaves begin to cover with a whitish bloom, reminiscent of a frozen lime solution.Over time, due to the fact that such a shelter disrupts photosynthesis, the foliage turns yellow and flies around. With gray rot, on the parts of the "bear berries", slippery spots are formed, which over time will be covered with a fluffy grayish bloom. This disease also leads to yellowing of the leaves and death of the plant. With root rot, bearberry foliage becomes drooping and it seems that the bush does not have enough moisture. But you can determine the disease by examining the root system. With this problem, the root processes become black.

For the treatment of fungal diseases, it is necessary to remove the affected parts of the bearberry and then carry out the treatment with fungicidal preparations, such as Topaz, Fundazol or Bordeaux liquid. With watering, it is recommended to wait or moisten the soil in a very small amount until the plant shows signs of complete recovery.

Important to remember

Even if the weather is hot, watering for bearberry should not be done abundantly. The plant is drought-resistant, and any slight waterlogging of the soil stimulates diseases.

Do not plant "bear vine" bushes in saline or alkaline soil, as this will also negatively affect their growth, flowering and subsequent fruiting.

Read also about pest and disease control methods when growing pernettia

Bearberry application and interesting plant notes

Blooming bearberry

The plant has long been used by people for its medicinal properties. Even Roman and Greek healers conducted research on the "bear berry", as it was known that it was still treated by barbarians. This representative of the flora was actively used in the treatment of the organs of the digestive and genitourinary systems.

At the same time, it is curious that both flowers and fruits of bearberry are not used for medicinal purposes, all due to the fact that picking berries and then storing them so that useful substances do not disappear seems to be a difficult matter. That is why leaf plates and plant shoots are usually used. The following useful substances and the effect they have on the body can be distinguished:

  • arbutin, which helps cleanse all organs of the body, while there is an antiseptic and diuretic effect on the systems as a whole;
  • flavonoids saturating bearberry foliage, form protection against pathogenic viruses, as well as against harmful bacteria or microbes;
  • hydroquinone, due to which the circulatory system is saturated with oxygen, while the metabolism shrinks, and it is also possible to safely "whiten" the skin;
  • tannins, under the influence of which the intestines are held together, therefore it is recommended not only to treat diarrhea with bearberry, but also to prevent it;
  • organic acids: ursular, which destroys bacteria and relieves inflammation; gallic acid, acting on cancer cells, stops their growth and has an anti-aging effect.

But at the same time, the bearberry deciduous mass is saturated with a large amount of vitamin C, essential oils, as well as trace elements and quercetin.

All of the above substances act both individually and together, helping the body to overcome diseases.

If you make tea on the basis of bearberry leaves, then such a drink will promote urine excretion, which is recommended for cystitis, as well as the elimination of pain symptoms. The drink should be taken in large portions as often as possible, but this tea has a bitter note and has a delicate green color.


When drinking tea based on bearberry, there is a possibility of dry mouth, lips can also dry out, urine becomes greenish.

Contraindications for the use of such a drink are:

  • women during lactation and pregnancy;
  • children's age (if the patient has not reached 12 years old).

Fees, which include bearberry, can be purchased in pharmacies. For example, the dried leaves of the plant are called "Uriflorin".

Since the deciduous mass of "bear ears" contains a large amount of tannins, in the 19th century the plant was used in the manufacture of morocco - leather obtained from the skin of goats of high quality. And also an interesting feature is that the oatmeal is not subject to combustion. Also, in addition to this, the hardwood mass was used in dyeing to dye, for example, wool. Fruits can act as food for beaver animals.

Description of bearberry species

Caucasian Bearberry (Arctostaphylos vaccinium)

found in the literature under the name Caucasian blueberries or Caucasian blueberry… It is a shrub or small tree, whose stems do not exceed 3 m. The branches grow rounded, when they are young, they are covered with hairy pubescence, buds with a pointed top. Foliage flies around with the arrival of autumn. The leaf plates are large in size, have ovoid-elliptical or elongated-elliptical outlines, membranous. The tip of the leaf is narrowed towards the base. The leaves of the Caucasian bearberry are attached to the shoots with short petioles or grow almost sessile. The edge of the leaf is with small teeth. On the reverse side, along the main vein, there is hairiness.

When blooming, flowers with reddish-whitish petals open. The buds of this bearberry species are collected in few-flowered racemose inflorescences. Flowers are attached to the branches with short pedicels. In each flower, the bracts are characterized by oblong or ovoid outlines, ciliate. The lobes of the calyx are rounded. The corolla has a bell-cylindrical shape, the blades in it are short and grow erect. The anthers of the stamens are devoid of processes. The fruits are spherical berries, painted in black color.

In the photo Bearberry ordinary

Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)

… The specific name is rooted in the Latin words "uva" and "ursus", which mean "grapes" and "bear", respectively, forming the phrase "bear vine". It is this species that is called bear berry or bear grapes, as well as many other epithets. For example, in Finland you can hear such nicknames as "sianmarja", which translates as "pork berry" or "sianpuolukka", also meaning "pork cowberry".

Bearberry is an evergreen perennial with a shrub form of growth. The crown of the bush is formed by a large number of branches creeping along the ground. Plant height varies in the range of 5–30 cm. Stems take a recumbent appearance, have branching, grow ascending and rooting. The foliage is characterized by oblong obovate outlines. The surface of the leaves of the bearberry ordinary is leathery. At the base, there is a narrowing into a shortened petiole. The top of the leaf plate is rounded. The color of the deciduous mass on top is dark green, the reverse side is light greenish. The leaf edge is whole, there is no pubescence. The leaves grow on the branches in the next order, there is a reticular venation.

When flowering, the bearberry usually forms an inflorescence on the tops of the shoots in the form of a brush. It consists of several flowers with drooping whitish-pink corollas. The pedicels are shortened. The rim has a jug-like shape, made up of five teeth with a bend. There are hard hairs inside the corolla. The color of the anthers is dark red. The column in the flower is slightly inferior in length to the corolla. The fruits ripen throughout August-September. They are bright red drupe berries in the bearberry. The diameter of the berry is 6–8 mm. Inside the fruit, the pulp is of a mealy consistency, surrounded by 5 seeds.

In nature, the species is widespread in North America and in the northern regions of Eurasia. It is rare in Central Russia, but it can grow in the Caucasus.

In the photo, Bearberry prickly

Prickly beetle (Arctostaphylos pungens)

native to the southwestern United States and northern and central Mexico, where it occurs in chaparral and forest habitats, and desert ridges. Arctostaphylos pungens are seen growing at the Tent Rocks National Monument in New Mexico at about 6,000 feet. It is often called "manzanita" in those regions. It is represented by a straight-growing shrub, reaching 1-3 m in height. The branches have a smooth red bark. Small twigs and new leaves are slightly woolly. Mature leaves are leathery, shiny and green, from oval to broadly spear-shaped, up to 4 cm long. The inflorescence is a spherical cluster of flowers in the shape of a brush. The fruit is a drupe, 5 to 8 mm wide.

Bearberry prickly berries are a food source for many species of wildlife, and people harvest and make jam in many parts of Mexico. This shrub thrives on dry, shallow, acidic soils rich in gravel and sand, and works with mycorrhiza for additional nutrients and water. The seeds require wildfire scarification before they can germinate.

Creeping bearberry (Arctostaphylos repens)

was first described in 1968. Distributed in nature in western North America. It has a shrubby form and an evergreen deciduous mass. Flowers collected in a brush are snow-white or slightly whitish. During flowering, the plant attracts wildlife: adult butterflies, hummingbirds, and special types of insects. Part of plants consumed by birds: fruits, nectar. The bird uses the crown of the bush for cover. When growing, partial shade or sun is recommended. Propagated by: cuttings, grafting, seeds. The soil should be loamy. The plant is drought tolerant, but moderate watering is recommended.

In the photo Bearberry glandolus

Bearberry glandolus (Arctostaphylos glandulosa)

This shrub is native to the coastal slopes of western North America from Oregon through California to Baja California. Straight bush, reaching up to 2.5 m in height. Branches and leaves are bristly and sometimes glandular, giving off sticky oils. The species is quite variable in appearance, and several subspecies are scattered throughout its range.

Related article: General description of rhododendron, popular species and varieties

Video about the use of bearberry for medicinal purposes:

Pictures of bearberry:

Photo Toloknyanka 1 Photo Toloknyanka 2 Photo Toloknyanka 3 Photo Toloknyanka 4 Photo Toloknyanka 5

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