Montana Outdoors

May 1, 2009

Kinnikinnik

Filed under: Montana, Nature, Outdoors, Photography, Photos, Pictures — Tags: , , — montucky @ 8:50 am

Kinnikinnik

(Kinnikinnik, Bearberry, Arctostaphylos uva-ursi, a shrub in the Heath family)

The name “Kinnikinnik”, I believe, comes from one of the Indian languages but I don’t know which one. It’s a low, trailing evergreen shrub in the Heath family with dark green leaves and it’s quite common in the mountains of western Montana. The flowers are tiny (the clump in the photo could be easily covered by a dime) and will give way later in the summer to small bright red berries that were used by Indians as a poor substitute for tobacco or ground to be mixed with dried buffalo meat to make pemmican, a nourishing and long lasting food source. (I find them rather tasteless myself although they are a common food for grouse.) The Latin term “uva-ursi” translates literally to “bears grape”.

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