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Cowberry, Vaccinium vitis-idaea, is an acid-loving European shrub native to moors and woodlands. It has a dwarf, creeping habit with handsome glossy, evergreen foliage similar to that of hedging box. It's a perfect choice for edging shady borders or for underplanting large shrubs and trees in acid soils, where it flowers and fruits freely in varying degrees of shade. The brilliant rich red spherical berries start to colour as the last bell-shaped flowers open in late summer. These can be eaten straight from the plant but they're extremely tart – mash them up with sugar if you have a sweeter tooth.
Grow Vaccinium vitis-idaea in fertile, moist but well-drained, acidic soil in full sun to partial shade. Tidy up plants in winter if necessary.
Plant type: Evergreen shrub
Flower colour: White
Foliage colour: Mid-green
Feature: Flowers, Fruit
Sun exposure: Full sun, Partial shade, Shade
Soil: Well-drained/light, Acidic, Moist, Sandy
Skill level: Experienced
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