The diminutive bog cranberry or small cranberry is wide-ranging across northern Europe, Asia, and North America. As one of its common names implies, it is a species of bogs–and also fens, muskeg, and arctic-alpine tundra.
This photograph was taken in British Columbia’s Pure Lake Provincial Park. It was a “belly picture”, as the shoots of this trailing shrub rarely extend more than 30cm (12 in.) above the sphagnum moss it is often associated with (in this case, this plant is perhaps 15cm (6. in) above the moss). I always am careful about my impact on other surrounding plants when on the ground like that. I find that (dry-ish) bogs are among the easiest to avoid crushing plants (along with sand dunes and large bare rock surfaces), thanks to the soft mossy layer that will sometimes exclude any other plant in large patches. I will also admit that it is exceedingly comfortable to lie in a bed of sphagnum moss with some sunshine and a bit of a breeze while photographing (and perhaps napping).
The fruits of Vaccinium oxycoccos are smaller than those of the cultivated cranberry; “cute” isn’t a word I normally use, but the little red berries nestled in sphagnum are…cute. Like the cultivated cranberry, the fruits are edible and can be used in preserves.
Here are a few more links with additional photographs / information:
- Vaccinium oxycoccos via the New England Wild Flower Society’s Go Botany site
- photos of Vaccinium oxycoccos from a Swedish site, SkolVision–the site contains images that supplement grade school curriculum (some excellent photos, if you take the time to browse, e.g., bryophytes)
- Plantarium, an “open atlas of plants and lichens of Russia and neighboring countries”, contains a number of images of Vaccinium oxycoccos under the name Oxycoccus palustris