Content Detail

Bearberry is a broadleaf evergreen ground cover that produces white to pinkish-white flowers and red fruit. It provides multi-season interest in the landscape.

This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

  • Family (English) Heath
  • Family (botanic) Ericaceae
  • Tree or plant type Ground cover, Perennial
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, Non-native, North America
  • Size range Low-growing plant (under 6 inches)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 2, Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7
  • Soil preference Acid soil, Dry soil, Sandy soil
  • Tolerances Dry sites, Occasional drought, Road salt
  • Season of interest early winter, midwinter, late winter, early spring, mid spring, late spring, early summer, midsummer, late summer, early fall, mid fall, late fall
  • Flower color and fragrance Pink, White
  • Shape or form Creeping
  • Growth rate Moderate, Slow

Size and Method of spreading: 

Bearberry is a trailing-rooting, evergreen groundcover that usually grows less thnt 6 inches high. It may spread out very widely. Trailing-rooting ground covers have trailing stems that spread out from a central root system. These stems spread out horizontally over the ground and can root where they come in contact with the soil. With bearberry, the stems root when they become covered with soil. One plant can turn into a large colony.

Native geographic location and habitat: 

C-Value: 10. Bearberry is native to Illinois, including the Chicago Region, North America, Europe and Asia. 

Leaf description: 

The evergreen leaves are arranged alternately on the stems. Leaves are thick and leathery, with entire leaf margins. The upper surface of the leaf is dark green and the lower surface is light green. The foliage turns reddish in fall and winter.

Flower description: 

Small, urn-shaped, white to pink flowers are produced in spring.  These flowers hang in clusters near the ends of the branches.

Fruit description: 

The fruits are berry-like drupes, bright red and very astringent.  The fruits ripen in late summer and often persist well into winter

Plant Care: 

Bearberry requires fairly specific growing conditions. It is an acid-loving plant that requires an acidic soil with a pH of 4.5 to 5.5 preferred. It thrives in infertile soils that are dry and sandy. It is tolerant of salt, and grows well in full sun or part shade.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances: 

Bearberry can be difficult to transplant. Leaf galls can be a problem. The plant is salt tolerant.


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