Cranberry, a vinelike plant of the heath family, closely related to the wintergreen and blueberry. Its fruit is used in making sauce, juice, jelly, and pies. In one form or another, cranberries are often eaten with turkey, especially at Christmas and Thanksgiving.
The large-fruit, or American, cranberry grows in wet peat bogs from North Carolina to Minnesota and northeastward. Its oval leaves are evergreen. The red, solid berries weigh down their slender stems in an arch, resembling the neck of a crane. The plant has also been called craneberry.Cranberry plants have evergreen leaves and solid, tart, red fruit.
An ideal place for raising cranberries is a marsh with an acid muck or peat soil. There must be an ample supply of water, brought under control by a system of dams and ditches. The vines may be flooded to save the flowers from a late frost in spring, or to save the young fruit from an early frost in autumn. Flooding may also be used to prevent attack by insects. The marsh is usually dried out for planting, A marsh comes into full bearing in three or four years. The berries are harvested in large scoops with comblike wooden teeth, or with mechanical beaters that release them from the underwater bushes so they can float to the surface for collection.
Cranberries are grown commercially in Massachusetts, Wisconsin, New Jersey, Oregon, and Washington.
Cranberries belong to the heath family, Ericaceae. The American cranberry is Vaccinium macrocarpon; mountain cranberry, V. vitisidaeaminus.