To paraphrase Dan Jaffe Wilder, “Bearberry won’t attract bears to your property, but if the bears are already there, they will certainly enjoy the snack.”
This fun plant has some great things going for it. It is a low-growing, creeping evergreen that grows in fairly tough soils. Pick a spot in full sun with sandy soils and the Arctostaphylos uva-ursi will grow there just fine.
The first year of growth can be a bit fussy, give it some attention and then you can pretty much leave it alone. Don’t plant this one near the forest edge, the deer will eat it down to the ground! A simple wire cloche can protect it from grazing deer if they are an issue.
As with most of the other plants that can handle sandy soil, the bearberry is drought and salt tolerant, which makes it a fantastic selection for bordering roadsides and driveways. Most importantly, this plant serves as a host to 14 species of lepidopterans, the berries provide food for birds and mammals, and our native bees love the small bell shaped flowers that are produced in the spring.
Fun fact: uva-ursi means "grape of the bear"
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Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (Bearberry)
SIZE: 2 quart pot type: shrub sun needs: full sun, part sun/part shade water needs: dry, average height: 6"-1' plant spacing: 1/sq ft bloom time: April, May, June bloom color: pink
Edible parts: berries but they are not tasty Salt tolerant. Some salt exposure should not be fatal to the plant but some leaf burning may still occur. Evergreen
Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is the host plant for Hoary Elfin (Callophrys polia), Brown Elfin (C. augustinus), Freija Fritillary (Boloria freija). Insects are dependent on host plants for survival. The nectar supports hummingbirds, butterflies, and native bees