Friday, April 26, 2013

Herb of the Week: Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon)

Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon)
Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon)

Few things say Thanksgiving more than cranberries but they are good for more than a turkey dinner side-dish. Cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) is a low-growing, native North American plant. While it doesn't require a bog to grow, it like its sister the blueberry, loves acid-rich soil and needs to be well-watered.

The cranberry's fruit is a powerful antioxidant as well as having nutritional benefits like vitamin c. (Read this article for more on the fruit's phytochemical benefits.) When I was growing up and there was mild urinary complaints in the house, cranberry juice was one of the home remedies we always tried. Studies seem to be inconclusive and contradictory whether or not the juice is effective for such complaints. But either way, it tastes good and is healthy! The leaves of the cranberry as well as the fruit can be used for herbal purposes. (Read more about the medicinal uses of the cranberry here.)

If you have the right conditions, look to add this native plant to your own home and gardens.