Empetrum nigrum
Black crowberry
Image of Empetrum nigrum

Photo by Susan R. Crispin 

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Key Characteristics

Low evergreen mat-forming shrub of rocky shores and fens in the Upper Peninsula; leaves crowded, linear, very short (>1 cm), with strongly rolled-under margins; flowers inconspicuous; fruits black, berry-like, borne in upper leaf axils.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: T
  • State Rank: S2
  • Global Rank: G5


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Distribution map for Empetrum nigrum

Updated 5/15/2018. Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Found on sandstone rock outcrops, in open, marly cedar or black spruce fens, and on exposed sandy bluffs and pine-dominated dune ridges. There is one historic record from an acidic peatland complex.

Natural Community Types


For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Associated Plants

Sphagnum moss, sedges, leatherleaf, bog rosemary, wild calla, round-leaved sundew, cotton-grass, swamp-laurel, large cranberry, small cranberry, three-leaved false Solomon's-seal, yellow lady's-slipper, showy lady's-slipper, Labrador tea, heart-leaved twayblade, blunt-leaf orchid, marsh fern, pitcher-plant,and bog birch.


Primarily requires perpetuation of hydrological regime and protection of habitat. Protect from excessive foot traffic and ORVs.

General Survey Guidelines

Random meander search covers areas that appear likely to have rare taxa, based on habitat and the judgment of the investigator.

Survey Methods

Page Citation

Michigan Natural Features Inventory. 2007. Rare Species Explorer (Web Application). Available online at http://mnfi.anr.msu.edu/explorer [Accessed Aug 18, 2018]

More Information

See MNFI Species Abstract


Survey References

Technical References

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