Uva Ursi

Botanical Name: Arctostaphylos uva-ursi Family: Ericaceae

Common name(s): Uva Ursi, Bearberry, Upland Cranberry, Mountain Cranberry


  • Perennial; evergreen | Zones 2-7 | 20″ – low-growing, matting ground cover | White, urn-shaped flowers (sometimes tinged with red) from June to September, followed by red berries
  • Dry, sterile, acidic (ph 4.0-6.0), sandy soil & gravely ridges | Full to part sun


The green leaves can be picked all year. One source says preferably in spring and summer, two others say in autumn.


Infusion: Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1-2 teaspoonful of dried herb and let sit for 10 – 15 minutes. Drink 3x/day.

Tincture: Take 1 – 4ml 3x/day


Constituents: glycosins (arbutin, iridoids), flavonoids, tannins,essential oil, ursolic, malic and gallic acids, resin

Actions: Astringent, diuretic, tonic, urinary antiseptic

Uses: Diabetes, chronic diarrhea, kidney ailments, especially cystitis and nephritis (inflammation of the kidneys). It’s astringent nature can make it useful in treating bed wetting.

Combinations: Marshmallow root and ginger root for cystitis and nephritis.

Cautions: Not a suitable remedy for cystitis if there is also infection of the kidneys. Should not be given to children under 12. Should not be taken when pregnant or if you have kidney disease. Should not be taken for more than 7-10 days at a time.


  • Bitter, astringent, cool


When I first heard the name of this herb – Uva Ursi – I was sure it must be a Chinese herb. Until I learned it was called Bearberry and it grows in Massachusetts. Now I will be looking for it! (I’m all about local herbs!)

Latin names sound exotic. Much more so than “bear’s grape,” to which uva ursi translates. (Bears are fond of them.)

I found this herb in my Native American herbology book, which says they would mix the leaves with smoking tobacco. The mixture was called KinnickKinnick.