Small Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos)

Small Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos)

Small Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos), sometimes called Bog Cranberry, Swamp Cranberry or Wild Cranberry, is a perennial shrub in the Heath (Ericacaea) family. As the genus name implies, it is related to the blueberry but is normally found in boggy or sandy, wet areas. Therefore, it is listed on this website as an emergent plant. This plant is very similar to the cultivated Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) but the berry of the cultivated Cranberry is larger and the flowers are in the lower leaf axils. The genus name is from the Old Latin for "bilberry." The new Latin translation is "hyacinth." The species name, oxycoccos, is Old Latin for "acid berry." The species name for the cultivated species means "large fruit." The wild cranberry form, Small Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos), is often found coexisting with  Sphagnum Moss. The Small Cranberry vines shown in the photograph above are to the northwest of the pond in a wet area. These cranberry plants are very prolific in Fresh Meadow downstream from French Hill Pond where people harvest the cranberries in the fall. The wild cranberries are said to have better tasting fruit compared to the larger cultivated berry. The photograph below shows a collection of Small Cranberry plants at the southern edge of the pond.

Small Cranberry Vine at the Southern Edge of the Pond

The  photograph below is a detail of the cranberry plant taken in early August after the flower's peak.

Small Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos) Flower

Cranberry Flowers Detail

The photograph immediately above shows the flower and leaves of the Small Cranberry. The graduation marks to the left in the photograph are in millimeters. The flower is pink, in four parts and about ¼ inch (6 millimeters) long. They bloom in June and July. There are one to four flowers in a cluster in the upper leaf axils. Each flower will have two small, red bracts. The leaves are alternately arranged, about ¼ to½  inches (6 to 12 millimeters) long,  green, elliptical and tapered at both ends. This plant is also evergreen. The following photograph shows a stem with leaves and immature fruit. Note that the stem is reddish-brown and about six inches (15 centimeters) long.. The fruit, a berry, is white but turns red at maturity when it has a diameter of about 3/8 inches (one centimeter).

Small Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos) Stem

The stomata on a Small Cranberry leaf scattered among the epidermal cells can be seen in the following 400X magnification microphotograph.

Small Cranberry Leaf at 400X Magnification

The following photograph shows the shiny, bright-red of the mature berry.

Mature Cranberry

When the berry is cut in half, the dual core is exposed in which the seeds grow as seen in the following photograph. The flesh of the cranberry consists of nutrient storage cells called parenchyma cells. The seeds are protected in the core walls consisting of tough sclereid cells. The red exterior of the berry consists of epidermal cells.

Cranberry Core and Seeds

The following microphotograph shows a seed of the Small Cranberry imbedded in the core of the fruit. This microphotograph has a 40X magnification indicating that the seed is about two millimeters long. There are many seeds in one fruit.

Small Cranberry (Vaccinium oxycoccos) Seed 40X

The root system is simple.

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