Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Bearberry or Common Bearberry or Bear’s Arctostafilo (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi (L.) Spreng.), Is a shrub species belonging to the family of the ericaceae.

Systematics –
From the systematic point of view it belongs to the Domain Eukaryota, Kingdom Plantae, Division Magnoliophyta, Class Magnoliopsida, Order Ericales, Family Ericaceae and therefore to the Genus Arctostaphylos and to the Species A. uva-ursi.
The term Arbutus uva-ursi L is synonymous with ..

Etymology –
The term Arctostaphylos comes from the Greek ἄρκτοσ árktos, bear and from σταφυλή staphylé, bunch of grapes: bearberry. The specific epithet grape-ursi derives from grape bunches, in particular grapes, and from the genus of Ursus. bear: bear grapes.

Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is a species typical of the arctic areas of Eurasia and North America and high mountains in the temperate zone. Eurosiberian species of the cold and temperate-cold areas of Eurasia. In Italy it is present on the central-northern slopes up to Campania. Its habitat is that of the mountain and subalpine pine forests, rhododendron bushes, rocks and pastures, from 600 to 2500 m.

Description –
Uva ursina is a small shrub, about 30-35 cm tall, with a woody creeping stem and with 10-20 cm tall erect branches and dark bark. The leaves are evergreen, coriaceous, with cross-veined ribs, with 4-6 mm petiole and oblanceolate lamina-glossy spatula on the two sides, not slightly clearer below, without glands. The margin is whole with a fringe of short eyelashes. The leaves regenerate every three years. The flowers are 3-12 in apical racemes more or less curved, with a calyx of 1 mm and white corolla or more or less reddened by 5-6 mm; the stamens are 10, included.
The fruit is a drupe with the 5 welded carpels, red and acid taste, semi-globose measuring (5) 7 x 10 (14) mm, with 5- (6) wrinkled seeds, of 4-5 x 2 mm, with two flat and one convex surfaces.
The antesis is between June and August.

Cultivation –
The Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is a plant that prefers bright and sunny places but in places that are too hot it is better to put them in semi-shaded places. It tolerates the cold of winter but can not stand the heat. It also grows well in rocky soils, rich in organic matter, well drained and with acidic pH. The bearberry bred in calcareous soils is subject to leaf chlorosis and in a short time the photosynthesis slows down and the plant dries completely. Cultivated in the ground is generally satisfied with the rains and should be watered only during periods of prolonged drought. For the cultivation technique, the following sheet can be consulted.

Uses and Traditions –
The bearberry is a medicinal and officinal herb, in fact, thanks to its antibacterial and diuretic properties, it is widely used as a remedy against urethritis cystitis and inflammation or mild infections of the urinary tract and in prostatitis. With the Decree of 9 July 2012, the Ministry of Health regulates the use in food supplements of herbal substances and preparations; defines the physiological effect of Arctostaplhylus Uva Ursi: Draining of body fluids. Functionality of the urinary tract.
This plant is used as an antiseptic of the urinary tract since hydroquinone, the active ingredient, fights the adhesion of bacteria to the urothelial walls and facilitates their removal from the urine. Moreover it has also given excellent results in prostatic hypertrophy and urinary retention.
The main constituent of the drug is arbutin, glycoside of hydroquinone; other active substances are: methylbutine, hydroquinone and other hydroquinone derivatives. The most represented phenolic acid is gallic acid, which, together with galloilarbutin, constitutes the main fraction of gallotannins. Other constituents are flavonoids and triterpenes such as ursolic acid and grape.
The Arctostaphylos uva-ursi can be confused with other similar species; among these A. alpinus (L.) Spreng. which is distinguished by having the black fruit at maturity and membranous leaves, notched at the edge and not evergreen. Possible confusion can be made with non-flowered specimens of Polygala Chamaebuxus L. and Vaccinium vitis-idaea L. which grow in the same environments and have almost identical leaves, but do not have the characteristic lashes on the edge and have pinnate, uncrossed ribs.

Preparation Mode –
The fruit of the bearberry is considered edible even if its taste is sour and not very pleasant, so it is not recommended to ingestion. In Scandinavia it seems to be used for syrups. In Abruzzo, and in other regions, the leaves are used in decoction in gastric pains and inflammation of the urinary tract. The bearberry is also an excellent antiseptic and astringent; if used as a herbal product, it is recommended to use the leaves in tea and in decoction, especially if associated with gramigna and thyme. The prescription is always advisable because there have been cases of gastralgia and even intoxication.

Guido Bissanti

– Acta Plantarum – Flora of the Italian Regions.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, Advice and experience with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.

Attention: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only, they do not in any way represent a medical prescription; there is therefore no liability for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.

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