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Arctostaphylos alpina (L.) Spreng.

Alpine Bearberry

Habitat: Alpine areas. [Alpine or subalpine (non-forested, upland)]

Range: Circumboreal, south to the alpine areas of Maine and New Hampshire.

Aids to Identification: This alternate-leaved shrub grows in tufts or prostrate with branches up to 20 cm high. Alpine bearberry is easily distinguished from the only other bearberry species in our region, A. uva-ursi, by its alpine habitat and by its toothed leaves which wither in the fall and are persistent through much of the winter. The fruits are black and juicy, and the white to pink flowers are arranged in short, terminal spikes.

Ecological characteristics: Limited in Maine to arctic-alpine areas on Mt. Katahdin.

Phenology: Flowers May - June.

Family: Ericaceae

Synonyms: Known as Arctous alpina (L.) Nied. Referred to as Mairania alpina (L.) Desv. and Arctous alpina (L.) Nied. in some very old treatments.

Known Distribution in Maine: This rare plant has been documented from a total of 1 town(s) in the following county(ies): Piscataquis.

Dates of documented observations are: 1856, 1980, 1989, 1994, 2000

Reason(s) for rarity: An arctic species disjunct from its principal range.

Conservation considerations: Populations could be threatened by heavy recreational (hiking) use.