Cranberry

Cranberries are a group of evergreen dwarf shrubs or trailing vines in the subgenus Oxycoccus of the genus Vaccinium. In some methods of classification, Oxycoccus is regarded as a genus in its own right. They can be found in acidic bogs throughout the cooler regions of the northern hemisphere. Cranberries are low, creeping shrubs or vines up to 2 metres (7 ft) long and 5 to 20 centimetres (2 to 8 in) in height; they have slender, wiry stems that are not thickly woody and have small evergreen leaves. The flowers are dark pink, with very distinct reflexed petals, leaving the style and stamens fully exposed and pointing forward. They are pollinated by bees. The fruit is a berry that is larger than the leaves of the plant; it is initially white, but turns a deep red when fully ripe. It is edible, with an acidic taste that can overwhelm its sweetness. Cranberries are a major commercial crop in certain American states and Canadian provinces (see cultivation and uses below). Most cranberries are processed into products such as juice, sauce, jam, and sweetened dried cranberries, with the remainder sold fresh to consumers. Cranberry sauce is regarded as an indispensable part of traditional American and Canadian Thanksgiving menus and some European winter festivals. Since the early 21st century within the global functional food industry, raw cranberries have been marketed as a "superfruit" due to their nutrient content and antioxidant qualities. Vaccinium oxycoccos or Oxycoccus palustris (Common Cranberry or Northern Cranberry) is widespread throughout the cool temperate northern hemisphere, including northern Europe, northe n Asia and northern North America. It has small 510 mm leaves. The flowers are dark pink, with a purple central spike, produced on finely hairy stems. The fruit is a small pale pink berry, with a refreshing sharp acidic flavour. Vaccinium microcarpum or Oxycoccus microcarpus (Small Cranberry) occurs in northern North America, northern Europe and northern Asia, and differs from V. oxycoccos in the leaves being more triangular, and the flower stems hairless. Some botanists include it within V. oxycoccos. Vaccinium macrocarpon or Oxycoccus macrocarpus (Large cranberry, American Cranberry, Bearberry) native to northern North America across Canada, and eastern United States, south to North Carolina at high altitudes). It differs from V. oxycoccos in the leaves being larger, 1020 mm long, and in its slightly apple-like taste. Subgenus Oxycoccus, sect. Oxycoccoides. Vaccinium erythrocarpum or Oxycoccus erythrocarpus (Southern Mountain Cranberry) native to southeastern North America at high altitudes in the southern Appalachian Mountains, and also in eastern Asia. Vaccinium oxycoccos flowers Cranberries are related to bilberries, blueberries, and huckleberries, all in Vaccinium subgenus Vaccinium. These differ in having stouter, woodier stems forming taller shrubs, and in the bell-shaped flowers, the petals not being reflexed. Some plants of the completely unrelated genus Viburnum are sometimes inaccurately called "highbush cranberries" (Viburnum trilobum). Cranberries are susceptible to false blossom, a harmful but controllable phytoplasma disease common in the eastern production areas of Massachusetts and New Jersey.