Diffusely much branched, and rooting at the nodes. Leaves: oblong-spatulate, obtuse, tapering into a short petiole. Flowers: few, in short racemes; corolla ovoid, constricted at the throat. Fruit: globose, drupe red, glabrous, containing five coalescent nutlets.
Red Bearberry (Arctostaphylos Uva-ursi)
A trailing shrub which is exceedingly handsome; it grows in depressed patches several feet in diameter, from a single main root. It is usually found creeping over dry gravelly places, and covering the rocks with its bright little evergreen leaves. In the autumn these leaves turn bronze, and lovely scarlet, dry, berry-like fruits gem the spreading branches.
White flushed with rose colour are these tiny rounded flowers, constricted at the throat, and giving forth a faint sweet odour.
"Oh! to be friends with the lichens, the low, creeping vines and the mosses,
There close to lie; Gazing aloft at each pine-plume that airily, playfully tosses 'Neath the blue sky."
Doubtless the name Bearberry is derived from the fact that Bruin is very fond of the fruit of the Arctostaphylos, though with small game birds, and especially grouse, it is also a favourite article of food. This is the true Kinni-kinic of the Indians who prize it for its astringent properties, using it as a medicine and also in the "curing" of animal skins.
Arctostaphylos alpina, or Alpine Bearberry, is a very tiny species, from two to four inches long, and is found growing on mountain summits as high as 7000 feet. It is usually prostrate, with thin' conspicuously veined leaves, a few pale pink or white flowers, and bright red juicy berries. This is also a shrub and in spite of its small size has shreddy bark.
Arctostaphylos tomentosa, or Manzanita, is tomentose and setose-hispid throughout. The densely-woolly leaves are oblong and tipped with a sharp point, and the bracts are leaflike. The flowers grow in short clustered racemes.