This genus of plants is well distinguished from the Vac-cinium, or Whortleberry, by the narrow revolute segments of corolla; and are pretty little trailing evergreen plants, to which a peat soil, and rather moist situations, are absolutely necessary. They are very little changed by culture.
The Oxycoccus macrocarpus is a red acid fruit, highly val-ned as a sweetmeat, or for tarts. It is well known that this excellent fruit grows in many parts of our country spontaneously; and that the mere gathering of it, is all that bountiful nature requires at our hands; but it is well worth cultivating where there are none. This fruit will keep a whole year, if properly preserved in close covered stone jars, and is considered by many as superior to the best currant jelly, and may be kept for many months in a raw state without injury.
The Oxycoccus palustris bears edible berries, which are gathered wild both in England and Scotland, and made into tarts. Lightfoot says, that twenty or thirty pounds' worth are sold each market day, for five or six weeks together, in the town of Langtown, on the borders of Cumberland.
Nicol says, the American species is more easily culti vated than the English, but is inferior to it in flavour. There is reason to believe that the quality of fruit of each of these species is subject to variations, which have not yet been practically distinguished. Their cultivation is now so well understood, that both may be considered with propriety as inmates of the fruit garden. Some raise them from seed sown early in the spring; but it is best to set out plants, and lay the runners as they progress in growth.
It is customary in England to prepare beds on the edges of ponds, which are banked up so as to admit of the wet getting underneath them; bog or peat earth is considered essential for the roots to run in, but it has been discovered that they can be cultivated in damp situations in a garden, with a top dressing of peat or bog earth, and if they are once suited as to the soil, the plants will multiply so as to cover the bed in the course of a year or two, by means of their long runners, which take root at different points. From a very small space a very large quantity of Cranberries may be gathered; and they prove a remarkably regular crop, scarcely affected by the state of the weather, and not subject to the attacks of insects. Sir Joseph Banks gives an account (in Hort. Trans., 1. 71) of his success in cultivating this fruit. "In one year, viz., 1813, from 326 square feet, or a bed about eighteen feet square, three and a half Winchester bushels of berries were produced, which, at five bottles to the gallon, gives one hundred and forty bottles, each sufficient for one Cranberry pie, from two and a half square feet."