cranberry, low creeping evergreen bog plant of the genus Oxycoccus of the family Ericaceae (heath family). Cranberries are considered by some botanists to belong to the blueberry genus Vaccinium. The cultivated species is the native American or large cranberry (O. or V. macrocarpus). The tart red berries are used for sauces, jellies, pies, and beverages. The Massachusetts colonists probably served wild cranberries with turkey at the first harvest feast in 1621, establishing a Thanksgiving tradition. Commercial cultivation began in Massachusetts in the early 19th cent., then in New Jersey and Wisconsin, later in Washington and Oregon and in Canada. United States cranberry acreage now totals c.25,000. Massachusetts leads in production, followed by Wisconsin and New Jersey. Cranberry bogs are flooded to control weeds, to protect against cold, and to facilitate harvesting. Cranberry is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Ericales, family Ericaceae. The high-bush cranberry or cranberry tree, a member of the honeysuckle family, is unrelated.
See P. Eck, The American Cranberry (1990).
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