Cranberry (Oxycoccus Hill.) belongs to the Ericaceae family. They are evergreen shrubs with creeping, slender stems, rooting at the point of contact with the substrate. Leaves are leathery, leathery, and small. Flowers are bisexual, pink, sometimes vivid, in clusters of several, rarely solitary, on filiform pedicels. Calyx four-lobed, corolla four-lobed with backward-flexed lobes. Fruit is a red, sometimes almost black, with or without a waxy coating, multi-seeded berry with the remains of the calyx at the apex. There are 4 species in the genus, distributed in the northern hemisphere.
The common cranberry (Oxycoccus palustis Pers.) is found in the cold and temperate zones of Eurasia and North America. It grows in raised bogs and intermediate swamps, less frequently in lowland swamps and swampy forests. Cultivation has begun in Europe.
The range of the small-leaved cranberry (Oxycoccus microcarpus Turcz.) is similar to that of the common cranberry, but its boundaries (southern and northern) are slightly more northerly. Hagerup’s cranberry (Oxycoccus gigas Hagerup) has been little studied. Found in Denmark, Finland, Poland, and possibly elsewhere. Grows in raised bogs.
Oxycoccus macrocarpus (Aiton) Pursh.) is a perennial evergreen shrub with two types of stems (shoots) and grows spontaneously in the northern part of North America, in wetlands. The creeping (vegetative) stems can grow up to 80 cm long per year under favorable conditions. These are the plant’s spreading stems. The creeping stems are very easy to root once they are buried in the soil. This results in a very dense stand of cranberries. In the second half of the summer, flower buds form at the top of the erect shoots, which grow into flower clusters in May of the following year. The large-leaved cranberry blooms from mid-June for about a month.
The large-headed cranberry differs from the common cranberry in having larger berries (10-27 mm in diameter), sturdier, longer (up to 1,5-1,8 m) stems with erect, 5-15 cm tall fruit stems, and larger (10-20 mm long), obtuse green leaves on both sides.
In North America, the large-fruited cranberry has been cultivated from wild forms of cranberry by crossing them with each other, and about 200 varieties of large-fruited cranberry have been developed.
The berries ripen between September and October. They are large (single ones grow up to 2,5 cm in diameter), rather hard, and less juicy than our bog cranberry and sour. The color of the berries, ranging from light red to dark cherry, is typical and distinctive for each variety, as is their shape.