Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Vaccinium oxycoccos
Small Cranberry

Technical Page

by Steven Clemants
Not peer reviewed
Last modified: 02/24/2012


*Vaccinium oxycoccos L., Sp. Pl. 1: 351. 1753 (originally spelled oxycoccus). *Oxycoccus oxycoccos (L.) MacMill., Bull. Torrey Bot. Club 19: 15. 1892 (originally spelled Oxycoccus oxycoccus). TYPE: Sweden. Anonymous s.n. (Lectotype: LINN 497.18), selected by (Vander Kloet, 1983), see also (Vander Kloet, 1989).

*Oxycoccus vulgaris Hill, Brit. Herb. 324. 1756. TYPE: Location and collector unknown (Holotype: Vitis idea palustris Bauhin).

*Vaccinium palustre Salisb., Prodr. Stirp. Chap. Allerton 291. 1796. *Oxycoccus palustris (europaeus) (Salisb.) Pers., Syn. Pl. 1: 419. 1805. TYPE: cites V. oxycoccus L., Sp. Pl., ed. 2, 5000.

*Vaccinium oxycoccus var. ovalifolium Michx., Fl. Bot.-Amer. 1: 228. 1803. *Oxycoccus ovalifolius (Michx.) Porsild, Canad. Field-Naturalist 54: 116. 1938. *Oxycoccus palustris var. ovalifolius (Michx.) Seym., Amer. Midl. Naturalist 49: 935. 1953. TYPE: Canada.

*Oxycoccus microcarpus Turcz. ex Rupr., Beitr. Pflanzenk. Russ. Reiches 4: 56. 1845. *Vaccinium microcarpum (Turcz. ex Rupr.) Hook. f., Trans. Linn. Soc. 23: 334. 1861. TYPE: Type not designated, several elements. [small fruit]

*Vaccinium oxycoccus var. intermedium A. Gray, Syn. Fl. N. Amer., ed. 2, 2(1): 396. 1886. *Oxycoccus palustris var. intermedium (A. Gray) Howell, Fl. N.W. Amer. 1: 413. 1892. *Oxycoccus oxycoccus var. intermedius (A. Gray) Piper, Contr. U.S. Nat. Herb. 11: 444. 1906. *Oxycoxxus intermedius (A. Gray) Rydb., Fl. Rocky Mts. 646, 1065. 1917. *Oxycoccus oxycoccus var. intermedius (A. Gray) Farw., Pap. Michigan Acad. Sci. 2: 35. 1923. TYPE: Type not designated, several elements. [more numerous, larger flowers and larger leaves]

*Vaccinium oxycoccus f. parvifolia Kurtz, Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 19: 393. 1894. TYPE: United States. Alaska; Moorige Wiesen am Seltathin, 29 Aug., Aurel & Krause 597 (Holotype: CORD).

*Oxycoxxus palustris f. microphylla Lange, Consp. Fl. Groenland. 2: 267. 1887. *Vaccinium oxycoccus var. microphyllum (Lange) J. Rousseau & Raymond, Naturaliste Canad. 79: 82. 1952. *Oxycoccus quadripetalus var. microphyllus (Lange) Porsild, Meddel. Groenland 77: 42. 1930. *Oxycoccus palustris ssp. microphylla (Lange) Å. Löve & D. Löve, Univ. Colorado Stud. Ser. Bio. 17: 28. 1965. TYPE: Type not designated, several elements.

*Vaccinium oxycoxxus f. obovatum Lepage, Naturaliste Canad. 81: 259. 1954. TYPE: Canada. Ontario: Attawapiskat, 29 Aug 1953, Dutilly et al. 31752 (Holotype: DAO).

*Oxycoccus palustris var. major Lange, Fl. Dan. 17(51): 6, t. 3019, f. 2. 1883. *Oxycoxxus hagerupii Å. Löve & D. Löve, Bot. Not. 114: 40. 1960. *Vaccinium hagerupii (Å. Löve & D. Löve) Ahokas, Ann. Bot. Fenn. 8: 255. 1971. TYPE: Norway. Christiansberg (Oslo), A. Blytt s.n. (Holotype: C).

*Vaccinium macrocarpon f. dahlei Finley & Core, Castanea 38: 408. 1973. TYPE: United States. West Virginia: Tucker Co.; Dolly Sods, 1973, Findley & Core? (Holotype: WVA). [green fruit]


HABIT perennial, evergreen, chamaephyte or hemicryptophyte (?), shrubs (vine?), autotrophic, monoclinous, with adventitious roots, 0.1-0.4 m tall, with rhizomes.

STEMS prostrate and erect, round, not winged, "regular". Prickles absent. Bark smooth, exfoliating, reddish orange or reddish violet. Branches erect, reddish orange or reddish violet, round, not winged, 0.4-0.6 mm in diam. Twigs orange-red or reddish orange, not odoriferous, round, 0.1-0.5 mm in diam., smooth, hairs short and unbranched or glabrous, spreading, unicellular, uniseriate, white, sparse, throughout, glabrescent, without glands. Pith present, light yellow or white, round, continuous, nodal diaphragm absent. Thorns absent. Aerial roots absent. Sap translucent. Resin absent.

LEAVES alternate, 1 per node, spaced ± evenly along stem, divergent from stem, simple. Stipules absent. Leaves petiolate or leaves sessile, petiole "typical", 0-0.1 cm long, glabrous, without glands. Leaf: abaxial surface light greenish yellow, adaxial surface greenish yellow or dark greenish yellow, blades lanceolate or ovate, revolute only at margin or revolute, symmetric, 0.4-0.5(-0.6) cm long, 0.1-0.2(-0.3) cm wide, coriaceous, base obtuse, margin entire, apex acute, abaxial surface glabrous, without glands, adaxial surface glabrous, without glands. Brochidodromous venation, veins 3-5. Leaf lobes absent. Spines absent. Tendrils absent.

INFLORESCENCES monomorphic, regular or, if dimorphic, female inflorescence simple, raceme, terminal. Peduncle absent. Rachis absent, with bracts. Bracts sessile, blades: abaxial surface reddish orange, adaxial surface reddish orange, widely ovate, involute, 1-1.3 mm long, 0.7-1.4 mm wide, base truncate, margin ciliate, apex acute, abaxial surface glabrous, without glands, adaxial surface glabrous, without glands. Pedicel 1.5-3 mm long, hairs short and unbranched, hairs spreading, unicellular, uniseriate, white, sparse, throughout, not glabrescent, without glands. Bracteoles 2, sessile, at midpedicel, not connate, bracteoles: abaxial surface orange-red or reddish orange or orange, bracteole: adaxial surface orange-red or reddish orange or orange, linear, involute, 1-1.2 mm long, 0.1 mm wide, base truncate, margin ciliate, apex acute. Cupules absent.

FLOWERS serotinous, formed on short shoots, monomorphic, with sepals and petals readily distinguishable from one another, bisexual. Perfect or female flowers light red or white, 4-merous, 10-12 mm long, 7-10 mm wide, 2-3 flowers per inflorescence, perianth of two whorls. Calyx present, actinomorphic, campanulate, of fused sepals, persistent, abaxial and adaxial surfaces the same color, yellowish green, 2-2.2 mm long, 2.5-3.6 mm wide, tube 0.5 mm long, calyx limb 0.3-0.7 mm long, 2.5-3.6 mm wide. Sepals or sepal lobes 4, lanceolate or ovate, 0.3-0.7 mm long, 0.8-1.6 mm wide, base truncate, margin ciliate, apex obtuse, abaxial surface glabrous, without glands, adaxial surface glabrous, without glands. Epicalyx absent. Corolla present, actinomorphic, of free petals, deciduous, abaxial and adaxial surfaces the same color, light red, 1-1.3 mm long, 0.7-1.4 mm wide. Petals or petal lobes 4, "normal", narrowly elliptic, 4.5-5.5 mm long, 1.2-2 mm wide, base attenuate, margin crispate (papilose), apex acute or obtuse, abaxial surface glabrous, without glands, adaxial surface glabrous, without glands. Gynoecium syncarpous. Carpels 4. Stigmas 1, truncate. Styles 1, 4.5-6.6 mm long. Ovary inferior, 1.5-2 mm long, 1.6-2.5 mm wide, nectiferous disk present. Locules 4. Placentation axile. Androecium obdiplostemonous. Stamens 8, 4.2-5 mm long. Anthers linear, opening by pores, opening 1/4 of entire anther, bithecal, orange or reddish orange, glabrous. Filaments free, straight, dark violet-red or red, hairs short and unbranched, erect, unicellular, uniseriate. Staminodes absent.

FRUITS bacca (berry), red, globose, 6-9 mm long, 6-9 mm wide, glabrous, without glands.

SEEDS 5 to 17, yellowish orange or black, wedge-shaped, 1.4-1.9 mm long, 0.8 mm wide, wingless, not tailed, lineate.


(Vander Kloet, 1983) (Wherry, 1920) (Wherry, 1920)

Sphagnum hummocks of cold bogs and floating bog mats. Growing in wet sphagnum peat, in soil of pH 2.9-5.5.

Rarity Status

Heritage global rank -- G5

Connecticut -- Not listed

New Jersey -- (Heritage rank: S2)

New York -- Not listed

Species Biology


June [weeks 2-4].


(Heinrich, 1976) (Pojar, 1974) (Reader, 1977) (Vander Kloet, 1983) (Warming, 1908)

Autogamy -- Autogamy is possible but usually not very effective.

Melittophily -- Flowers are visited most commonly by Bombus and Andrena.


July [week 1] - September [week 4].


(Pojar, 1974) (Vander Kloet, 1983)

Endozoochory -- Birds and mammals.



(Vander Kloet, 1983)


Seeds collected in spring germinated readily.

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