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Tree Campus: Kinnickinnick

Tree Campus SCC is a multi-year and interdisciplinary college initiative to document, map, and celebrate the incredible diversity of trees planted on the campus. With over 200 species, Shoreline Community College is an arboreal paradise that deserves to b



k̓ayuk̓ayu - S. Lushootseed

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (ERICACEAE)



Northern Circumpolar



"Kinnikinnick browse is of moderate importance to bighorn sheep, mountain goat, black-tailed deer, and white-tailed deer. Kinnikinnick is important to moderately important browse for Rocky Mountain mule deer . Elk browse it on winter ranges in Alberta. During early spring in Montana, moose browse kinnikinnick in snowfree areas near trees on south and west aspects.

Since kinnikinnick's low-quality fruit spoils slowly, it lasts through winter and is available when other fruits are gone. The fruits of kinnikinnick are eaten by songbirds, gamebirds, including five species of grouse and wild turkey, deer, elk, and small mammals. Black bear and grizzly bear eat kinnikinnick fruits in the autumn, but fruits are especially important to bears in the early spring . In Montana, grouse may be attracted to very recent burns by fire-exposed kinnikinnick fruit.

Hummingbirds take nectar from the flowers of kinnikinnick and have been observed to alight momentarily to probe low flowers." [1]


Equity: Cultural and Historical Significance

"Smoking the leaves as a tobacco substitute is the most widely mentioned human use of kinnikinnick. However, medical uses of kinnikinnick leaves were recognized by early Romans, Native Americans, and settlers. At the present, kinnikinnick leaves are used medicinally in Poland and many other countries. The most important medical use of the leaves is for treating urinary tract disease. They can also be used to make a highly astringent wash and as a vasoconstrictor for the endometrium of the uterus. Some Native American tribes powdered the leaves and applied them to sores. For medical use the leaves are best collected in the fall.

The berrylike drupes have dry, insipid, and tasteless flesh when raw but are useful emergency food. Native Americans fried them or dried them and used them in pemmican. The fruit is also used in jelly, jam, and sauces. In Scandinavia, kinnikinnick is used commercially to tan leather.

Kinnikinnick is an attractive and excellent garden ground cover on sunny, sandy banks, along roadways, rock walls, rockeries, parking strips, and other sunny places in urban areas. It withstands low summer moisture; some forms will withstand salt spray, grow very slowly, or grow under semishady conditions. Branches with fruit are used for fall and Christmas decorations. Kinnikinnick plants are available in nurseries. Propagation by layering or rooted cuttings is easy and well described." [1]



"Kinnikinnick is unpalatable to domestic livestock but relished by wildlife...

Kinnikinnick is very useful in erosion control plantings and attractive along highway embankments. It is recommended for revegetation projects on well-drained soils in Alaska and moist to dry sites in most of Alberta." [1]



[1] Crane, M. F. 1991. Arctostaphylos uva-ursi. In: Fire Effects Information System,. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available:

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