Marin Master Gardeners
University of California
Marin Master Gardeners

Plant Guide

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Common Name
Bearberry
CA Native
California Native
Plant Type
Ground Cover
Size
6" - 12" x 10' - 12'
Flower Color
Pinkish White
Bloom Time
  • Spring
Leaves
Bright Green, Turns Reddish Bronze in Winter
Evergreen
Evergreen
Deer Resistant
Rarely Damaged
Wildlife Value
  • Bees
Growth Rate
Slow
Hardiness
Hardy
Adverse Growth Factors
None
Special Features
  • Attractive Berries
  • Fall Color
  • Low Maintenance
Water Use
  • Low
Soil pH
5.5-6.4 (acid)
Exposure
  • Full Sun
  • Partial Shade
  • Shade
Soil Type
Not Particular
Drainage
Well Drained
Description and Cultural Plant Tips

The Bearberry is a California native that grows naturally in sandy or rocky soil. It forms low growing, dense, spreading mats that do well on hill sides and slopes. It has pale pinkish white flowers in the spring that turn into tiny red apple-shaped drupes in summer that can last into winter.

Plant slightly above grade in well-drained slightly acidic soil. It does not like excessive heat so this plant will do best in coastal areas of Marin. Plant A. densiflora ' Emerald Carpet ' if in the hotter areas of Marin. It can be hard to establish. Plant in the fall so that winter rains keep soil moist for initial root growth and rooting of branches. Use mulch to keep soil moist.

Bees and hummingbirds enjoy the nectar.

Can develop foliar diseases (black spot) when stressed.

Master Gardener Comments
Varietals

A. uva-ursi 'Point Reyes' - more tolerant of heat and drought than other forms. Leaves are small & closely set.

A. uva-ursi 'Massachusetts' - more disease reistant than uva- ursi. Flowers and fruits well.

 

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