Kinnikinnick – Arctostaphylos uva-ursi
The Kinnikinnick is a small, trailing, evergreen shrub that grows up to 30cm tall and spreads up to 4.5m. The Kinnikinnick can be found growing in sandy, well-draining soil in woodlands and open areas and prefers dry, acidic soil. The Kinnikinnick can be identified by its thick, leathery, paddle-shaped leaves that are yellow-green in spring and turn dark green in summer.
The Kinnikinnick has pinkish white, bell-shaped flowers that bloom on bright red stems in May and June. The Kinnikinnick also grows bright red berries that stay throughout the winter. These berries are edible but not tasty, and were mostly used medicinally by the Haida as a diuretic. The leaves are also smoked as a tobacco substitute by First Nations peoples.
The Kinnikinnick also attracts birds and other wildlife, such as butterflies and hummingbirds.
Other Uses: N
Soil: Acidic, rocky, or sandy
Watering: Dry to very dry
Sun: Shade to full sun
Usually found at: Dry and exposed forests
Pollinators & wildlife: Pollinated by bees and attracts butterflies and hummingbirds.
Ornamental: Provides ground cover and bright red berries add a pop of colour
Leaves: Glossy, dark, paddle-shaped leaves that turn reddish in winter alternate on a short stalk. Up to 7 cm long
Flowers: Pinkish white, bell-shaped flowers up to 1 cm wide bloom on terminal cluster
Berries: Bright red and 0.5 cm wide
First Nations uses: The dried leaves are smoked as a tobacco substitute and leaves are chewed to suppress thirst. In terms of medicinal uses, the leaves can be steeped to make tea to be used as mouthwash for canker sores and weak gums. A decoction of the leaves us known to be drunk for colds and tuberculosis. Amongst the Haida, the leaves are used as a diuretic in kidney diseases and infections of the urinary passages.
Note: Native plant sales are pick-up only at Suwa’lkh School (1432 Brunette Ave in Coquitlam). Email suwa’email@example.com for more information.