There’s plenty to enjoy about this flowering edible shrub. The deciduous American Cranberry bush is resilient, maintenance-free, and adaptable. In addition, it adds eye-catching year-round attraction to one’s own scenery.
Natural to North America, this sizeable decorative has thick upright branches that grow into a full mounded shape. Vivid dark green leaves occur in opposite sets that are 3-lobed and slightly resemble maple leaves.
Springtime delivers an abundance of flat, cream-colored flowers in large clusters that have a lacy and gentle appearance. Clusters of plump berries follow, venturing out green, changing to a yellow-orange, and then finishing in a vibrant scarlet by autumn.
As fall arrives, American Cranberry’s beautiful emerald green leaves set in motion dazzling shades of orange, crimson, and burgundy. Once the foliage begin falling, the fire-engine red berries become all the more visible, producing an eye-catching display.
These striking bunches of berries will hang on the shrub through the winter season. They not only give rich warm color to a usually monochromatic and frosty scenery, but also provide a much-welcomed hideaway for feathered creatures and small mammals when food sources are in short supply.
Developing to heights of 5-6 feet with a very similar spread, the American Cranberry shrubs could possibly be planted in rows and clipped to take shape as an excellent privacy hedge. With its upright and naturally rounded shape, this shrub can be grown in small sets for accent, or used as a specimen plant to set off the corners of your property.
Flourishing in zones 2-7, the American Cranberry bush grows almost anywhere in the country. It does well in full sun or shade, and prefers a well-drained soil rich in natural matter to help retain sufficient moisture. The American Cranberry bush should not be allowed to dry out for extended periods of time.
Cranberries contain anti-bacterial compounds that aid in promoting urinary tract health. In addition, cranberries contain phytochemicals, or health-promoting benefits that reduce oxidative destruction of cells, which can lead to cancer, heart disease, and other degenerative diseases.
These low-sodium berries are cholesterol and fat-free, so try them dried as a sweet ‘anytime’ snack, whip up a batch of delicious jam, or press them to make a tasty juice. Of course, you should try your hand at some fresh Cranberry sauce to accompany your Thanksgiving turkey or roasted chicken any time of the year.