Vaccinium vitis-idaea
Mountain cranberry
Image of Vaccinium vitis-idaea

Photo by Bradford S. Slaughter 

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Key Characteristics

Low evergreen dwarf shrub (15 cm) of Sphagnum mats near wet shores under conifers; alternate, dark green leaves somewhat glossy, very firm, with conspicuously turned under margins, paler undersides have black, erect, bristle-like glands.

Status and Rank

  • State Status: E
  • State Rank: S1
  • Global Rank: G5


County NameNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed
Distribution map for Vaccinium vitis-idaea

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.


Mountain-cranberry is a very rare species known from ecotonal areas on and near wet volcanic bedrock shorelines.

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

Trees: Abies balsamea (balsam fir), Betula papyrifera (paper birch), and Thuja occidentalis (northern white-cedar).

Shrubs: Rhododendron groenlandicum (Labrador tea).

Ground layer: Carex disperma (two seeded bog sedge) and Sphagnum spp.


This species primarily requires preservation of the habitat and maintenance of hydrology.

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 [Accessed Sep 24, 2018]


Survey References

Technical References

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