Vaccinium macrocarpon, better known to most people as the cranberry, is the focus of today’s episode. This is partly due to seasonality – we’re coming up on Thanksgiving here in the US, and for those who aren’t familiar, cranberries typically play some role in the traditional holiday meal. It’s also due to the fact that everyone knows of cranberries, but few have actual laid eyes on this plant in the wild — though we’re guessing that they grow within a 20 mile range of a good chunk of those listening in the US and Canada.
Links to some of the topics we discuss in this episode can be found below. Listen to Every Plant Deserves a Podcast wherever you get your podcasts.
Vaccinium macrocarpon in a coastal Washington cranberry bog; Photo by Keith Weller – Image Number K4414-14 ( http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/graphics/photos/k4414-14.htm ), Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=146690
What’s a huckleberry? Sure, we went way off topic talking about huckleberries when we were listing cranberry relatives, but it’s worth the time to demystify what’s actually a huckleberry and what’s misnamed “huckleberry.”
Watch a video showing how cranberries are harvested; here’s a beautiful step-by-step photo essay if you prefer.
The flowers of a cranberry plant. With the prominent central pistil and stamen, and the dramatically reflexed petals, one can see the resemblance to the crane bird, which gave cranberry its original name of craneberry. Photo credit to Alan Cressler via the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.