Bearberry – edible wild plant – how to find, identify, prepare, and other uses for survival.
Bearberry or Kinnikinnick (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)
This plant is a common evergreen shrub with reddish, scaly bark and thick, leathery leaves 4 centimeters (1 1/2 inches) long and 1 centimeter (1/2 inch) wide. The leaves are shiny, small, and feel thick and stiff. The underside of the leaf is lighter green than the top side. New stems on the Bearberry can be red if the plant is in full sun but will typically be green if the plant is located in the shade. It has white or pink flowers in the spring and bright red fruits.
Where to Find: This plant is found in arctic, subarctic, and temperate regions, most often in sandy or rocky soil.
Other Uses: Bearberry contains glycoside arbutin which has antimicrobial properties and acts as a mild diuretic. It can be used to treat urinary tract infections.
Note: Large doses of Bearberry can cause nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, and severe back pain and should be avoided by children, persons with kidney disease, and pregnant or breast feeding mothers.