The Cranberry of Commerce

That’s the description in my Newcomb’s Wildflower Guide.

Various species of cranberries grow in northern climates around the world but the berries are so tart that they weren’t popular as food until European settlers learned about them from Native Americans.

This plant, Large Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon), is the one that’s cultivated.

The shape of the flower gave cranberries their name.  The petals curl backward and the long stamens touch in front like a shooting star but if you look at the stem, flower and stamens as a whole, they resemble the neck, head and beak of a crane.   Crane-berry.  Cranberry.  

These evergreen plants bloom in acidic bogs in summer and show off their bright red berries in fall. 

Dianne Machesney photographed this one near Ricketts Glen in early July.

(photo by Dianne Machesney)

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