Grouseberry
Vaccinium scoparium Leib. ex Coville
Family: Ericaceae, Heath
Genus: Vaccinium
Synonyms:
Other names: grouse whortleberry
Nomenclature: scoparium = broom like
Nativity / Invasiveness: Montana native plant
Edible plant
Medicinal plant
Description

General: dwarf shrub, not evergreen, usually more or less matted, 10-25 cm tall, the branches many, slender, erect, broomlike, strongly angled, greenish or yellowish-green, hairless or occasionally sparsely finely short-hairy.

Leaves: alternate, lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate, 8-15 mm long, thin, finely sharp-toothed, sharp-pointed, light-green, hairless or very minutely short-hairy, conspicuously veiny on the lower surfaces.

Flowers: about 4 mm long, nodding, single from leaf axils, on stalks 2-2.5 mm long. Corolla pinkish, bell- to urn-shaped. Calyx very shallowly lobed. Filaments hairless, the anthers with 2 slender, stiff, bristles, the pore-bearing terminal tubes about equal to the pollen sacs. May-August.

Fruits: berries, round, bright red, sometimes purplish, 3-5 mm broad, sweetish.


Distribution

Open to wooded sites, foothills to subalpine zone, in w. and c. parts of MT. Also from B.C. and Alberta to n. CA, through ID and SD, s. in the Rocky Mts. to CO.
Edible Uses

The fruits of grouseberry is edible, raw or cooked and used in pies, jellies, jams, breads, muffins etc. They are tasty and juicy. The dried fruits can be used to flavor other foods or to thicken soups. The fresh or dried leaves can be used to make a tea.



Medicinal Uses

The plant has agents that are antiseptic, act as appetizer, prevent or alleviate nausea and vomiting, cause tissue to contract, relieve and remove gas from the digestive system, and cause a deficiency of blood sugar. A tea of the dried, pulverized leaves has been used in the treatment of nausea and to increase the appetite by the Cheyenne Indians. They also gave dried and powdered fruits to children to improve their appetite.



Other Uses

The branches can be used as brooms.


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