Do Cranberries Grow on a Bush or a Tree?

When you see video of cranberries being harvested, you see individuals in high-waders walking through large, water-filled bogs of floating berries. These berries did not come from a tree or a bush. Instead, they came off a cranberry vine that spreads across the ground in runners throughout the growing season.

American Cranberry

The American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) is the type of berry that is grown commercially; once you see cranberries in the store, you’re looking at American cranberries. These grow on plants sometimes called lowbushes, which can be actually woody, perennial vines that send out runners reaching feet. In the spring, vertical stems called uprights sprout up in the runners. These uprights produce flowers, subsequently cranberries in the autumn.

Highbush Cranberry

Frequently mistaken for true cranberries, the highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum) is a landscape bush that develops edible fruit in the autumn. This fruit looks and tastes somewhat like a cranberry, but it is not precisely the exact same thing. Additionally, the highbush cranberry plant takes five years or more to bear fruit, unlike the common lowbush variety that takes two years. This makes the lowbush better for commercial production.


Lingonberries (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) are often mistaken for cranberries, but they grow on a bush and taste much more like a cross between blueberries and cranberries. They mature quicker, producing a crop of berries in early summer and another in the autumn.


Cranberries destined for the fresh fruit aisle of your grocery store are harvested much like other fruit, with a picking machine in dry conditions. However, the more dramatic pictures you see of bushels of cranberries addressing the very top of what appears to be a pond is known as wet harvesting, utilized when picking cranberries yearning for sauce, juice, jellies or other recipes. The farmers flooding the cranberry areas with less than a foot water, usually, and run a particular picking machine during the disciplines. A spinning wheel loosens the berries from the vines, and a scooping tool slides along the vines as well as finishes releasing the grasses, which float to the top of the water. This makes them easier to direct to a holding location and transferred into containers to head to food processing plants for sorting and final preparation. Although photos make it appear like there’s deep water covering cranberry bushes, there’s usually only enough to cover the vine’s runners — about 8 to 10 inches.

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