Empetrum nigrum L.
crowberry (black crowberry)
Ericaceae (Crowberry family)
(Previously in Empetraceae)

Introduction to Vascular Plants


© Ryan Durand     (Photo ID #14320)


E-Flora BC Static Map

Distribution of Empetrum nigrum
Click here to view the full interactive map and legend

Species Information

Evergreen shrub; stems somewhat decumbent, more or less woolly-hairy, freely branching, 15-30 cm long.
Alternate, evergreen, linear to almost needle-like, in whorls of 4, 3-8 mm long, glandular-hairy, margins rolled under, lower surface grooved.
Inflorescence of 2-3 inconspicuous flowers in the leaf axils, subtended by 3 scaly bracts smaller than the sepals; petals 0-3, purplish, 3 mm long; sepals 3, brownish.
Berry-like drupes, fleshy, purplish-black, globular, 4-5 mm long; seeds 2-9, white, stonelike.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


If more than one illustration is available for a species (e.g., separate illustrations were provided for two subspecies) then links to the separate images will be provided below. Note that individual subspecies or varietal illustrations are not always available.

USDA Species Characteristics

Flower Colour:
Blooming Period:
Mid Summer
Fruit/Seed characteristics:
Colour: Black
Present over the Summer
Source:  The USDA


Ecological Framework for Empetrum nigrum

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres)
1193 0 2410
Slope Gradient (%)
14 0 172

Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]

343 0 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
4 0 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
# of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class

All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in

AT(11), bafa(112), BWBS(284), CMA(13), CWH(303), ESSF(564), ICH(22), IDF(1), IMA(27), MH(84), MS(269), SBPS(75), SBS(162), SWB(260)

Habitat and Range

Wet to moist bogs, meadows, open forests, alpine fellfields and cliffs in the lowland to alpine zones; frequent throughout BC; circumpolar, N to AK, YT and NT, E to NF and S to NY, MN and N CA; Eurasia.

SourceThe Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Synonyms and Alternate Names:
Empetrum atropurpureum Fernald & Wiegand
Empetrum nigrum var. atropurpureum (Fernald & Wiegand) B. Boivin
Empetrum nigrum var. purpureum (Raf.) A. DC.
Empetrum rubrum var. atropurpureum (Fernald & Wiegand) R. Good