Arctous alpina

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Arctous alpina
Arctous alpina var. japonica on Mt. Iide, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.

Secure (NatureServe)[1]
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Arctous
A. alpina
Binomial name
Arctous alpina
  • Comarostaphylis polifolia
  • Arctostaphylos alpina

Arctous alpina (syn. Arctostaphylos alpina), the alpine bearberry, mountain bearberry or black bearberry, is a dwarf shrub in the heather family Ericaceae. The basionym of this species is Arbutus alpina L..



Arctous alpina is a procumbent shrub usually less than 6 inches (15 cm) high with a woody stem and straggling branches. The leaves are alternate and wither in the autumn but remain on the plant for another year. The leaves are stalked and are oval with serrated margins and a network of veins. They often turn red to scarlet in autumn. The flowers are in groups of two to five, white or pink and urn-shaped and about 3 to 5 mm (0.12 to 0.20 in) long. They have five sepals, five fused petals with five small projecting lobes, ten stamens and a single carpel. The fruits are spherical, 9 to 12 mm (0.35 to 0.47 in) long, initially green, then red and finally glossy black and succulent when ripe. This plant flowers in June.[2][3]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Arctous alpina has a circumpolar distribution. It is found at high latitudes, from Scotland east across Scandinavia, Russia, Alaska, Northern Canada and Greenland. Its southern limits in Europe are the Pyrenees and the Alps, in Asia, the Altay Mountains and Mongolia, and in North America, British Columbia in the west, and Maine and New Hampshire in the east.[4] Its natural habitat is moorland, dry forests with birch and pine and hummocks covered in moss at the edges of bogs.[3]


Arctous alpina forms a symbiotic relationship life with fungi which supply it with nutrients such as phosphorus. The berries are appreciated by birds.[3]


  1. ^ "NatureServe Explorer 2.0". Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  2. ^ Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, Native Plant Information Network—NPIN: Arctostaphylos alpina (Alpine bearberry). Accessed 2013-02-02
  3. ^ a b c "Alpine Bearberry". NatureGate. Retrieved 2013-12-24.
  4. ^ "Arctous alpina". Germplasm Resources Information Network. Agricultural Research Service, United States Department of Agriculture.

External links[edit]