Herb: Small Cranberry

Latin name: Vaccinium oxycoccos

Synonyms: Oxycoccus palustris, Oxycoccus quadripetala, Vaccinium oxycoccus

Family: Ericaceae (Heath Family)

Medicinal use of Small Cranberry:

An infusion of the plant has been used to treat cases of slight nausea.

Description of the plant:


10 cm
(4 inches)

June to

Habitat of the herb:

Acid boggy land.

Edible parts of Small Cranberry:

Fruit - raw or cooked. Considered by some to be the most pleasantly-flavoured of British wild fruits. The fruit is high in pectin, this means that it can be mixed with fruits that are low in pectin to help them set when making jam. Pectin has also been shown to have a valuable role in the diet, where it is said to protect the body against radiation. An acid taste, the fruits are usually cooked in preserves etc. Although smaller than the related V. macrocarpon, the fruit of this species is considered to be of superior taste. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter. A tea is made from the leaves.

Other uses of the herb:

The juice of the fruit is used to clean silver. A red dye is obtained from the fruit. Plants can be grown as a ground cover when planted about 1 metre apart each way. Plants rapidly form a dense carpet when they are thriving.

Propagation of Small Cranberry:

Seed - sow late winter in a greenhouse in a lime-free potting mix and only just cover the seed. Stored seed might require a period of up to 3 months cold stratification. Another report says that it is best to sow the seed in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe. Once they are about 5cm tall, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a lightly shaded position 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, 5 - 8cm with a heel, August in a frame. Slow and difficult. Layering in late summer or early autumn. Another report says that spring is the best time to layer. Takes 18 months. Division of suckers in spring or early autumn.

Cultivation of the herb:

Acid boggy land.

Known hazards of Vaccinium oxycoccos:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.