Herb: Crowberry

Latin name: Empetrum nigrum

Family: Empetraceae (Crowberry Family)

Medicinal use of Crowberry:

The leafy branches have been used, especially for children with a fever, as a diuretic. It has also been used to treat kidney problems. A decoction or infusion of the stems, or the cooked berries, have been used in the treatment of diarrhoea. A decoction of the leaves and stems, mixed with Hudson Bay tea and young spruce tree tips, has been used in the treatment of colds. A decoction of the roots has been used as an eyewash to remove a growth.

Description of the plant:


30 cm
(11 3/4 inch)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Moors and mountain tops, and in the drier parts of blanket bogs.

Edible parts of Crowberry:

Fruit - raw or cooked. It can taste slightly acid or insipid. Not very desirable, it tastes best after a frost. A watery flavour, it is mainly used for making drinks, pies, preserves etc. The Inuit dry or freeze them for winter use. The fruit can hang on the plant all winter. The fruit is about 7.5mm in diameter. A tea can be made from the twigs.

Other uses of the herb:

A purple dye is obtained from the fruit. Can be used for groundcover in exposed locations. Plants should be spaced about 25cm apart each way.

Propagation of Crowberry:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. The seed can be very slow to germinate, stored seed requires 5 months warm then 3 months cold stratification at 5C. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 3cm with a heel, July/August in a frame. Takes 3 weeks. Good percentage. Cuttings of mature wood of the current year's growth, 3cm with a heel, October in a frame. Requires shade. Good percentage.

Cultivation of the herb:

Moors and mountain tops, and in the drier parts of blanket bogs.

Known hazards of Empetrum nigrum:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.