A perennial shrub, the Vaccinium Macrocarpon is an evergreen plant that is native to the United States. It is also known as the Cranberry or Large Cranberry. Today, a number of cultivated varieties of the Vaccinium Macrocarpon are commonly grown in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey and Cape Cod in Massachusetts. However, cranberries are commonly grown throughout the U.S. including Washington, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, New York, and Michigan. The original name of this plant was derived from the resemblance of their petals and anther to that of the crane, a wading bird. Eventually, this name changed to the current one of cranberry. It was also known as Bearberry in parts of the U.S. and Mossberry in the eastern part of Canada.
A member of the Ericaceae family, this evergreen plant is related to the huckleberry and the blueberry. While two other varieties of the cranberry exist (Vaccinium oxycoccos or northern cranberry and Vaccinium microcarpus or small cranberry), the large cranberry is the variety that is primarily used in commercial production.
Growing close to the ground, the Vaccinium Macrocarpon is seen in dense masses that may reach to a height just under one foot. The native habitat of the Vaccinium Macrocarpon includes boggy areas, swamps, peaty locations, mires, and coastal areas. The plant does best when the soil is wet rather than moist and shady rather than sunny.
The Vaccinium Macrocarpon produces small leaves that are leathery in texture and glossy in appearance. They offer a deep green coloring that turns into various shades of red and brown in the spring. The Vaccinium Macrocarpon produces tiny white to pink flowers that appear in small clusters during the spring and summer months of May, June, and July. These tube shaped flowers eventually produce a small, deep red fruit that is edible. These berries are ripe enough for harvesting during the fall months.
A number of studies regarding the efficacy of using cranberries to treat disease have been undertaken, but definitive results have not yet been presented. Cranberry is considered by herbalists and others as a treatment for UTIs (urinary tract infections). However, antibiotics should still be the primary course of treatment for this condition due to the lack of consistent evidence. Studies have also investigated the use of cranberry for the treatment of the H. pylon infection, which is responsible for the development of dental plaque and gastrointestinal ulcers. Conclusive results have not yet been discovered.
The fruit of the Vaccinium Macrocarpon is edible in many forms. Cranberries have been used to make juice, jellied cranberry sauce, and whole cranberry sauce. They are also eaten fresh or dried and have found their way into a number of recipes including those used to make bread, muffins, cakes, and cereal. Cranberries offer an excellent food source. For one thing, they score higher in antioxidants than many other types of fruits. They are fat free, cholesterol free, and low in sodium. Results of studies suggest that eating cranberries helps to protect the body's heart and immune system.
Cranberries are also valued for their seed oil and extract, both of which are important components of several different skin care products. Cranberry extract is taken from the seeds, skin, and pulp of the fruit. It is rich in several different trace minerals including potassium, phosphorus, and iron. It contains high levels of polyphenols, flavonoids, vitamin C, and fatty acids. All of this creates an extract that provides potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Since the pH is quite low, the extract acts as an effective astringent. Moreover, it delivers antibacterial benefits due to its high phenolic content.
Particulates taken from the seeds and placed in exfoliating products for the skin act as tiny exfoliating machines as they help to remove dead skin cells and restore the skin's clarity. Cranberry extract is credited with having potent anti-aging capabilities that slow down the skin's natural progression of depleted stores of collagen and elastin.
Cranberry Seed Oil contains fatty acids, giving it exceptional capabilities as an emollient and providing a good reason for it to be included in moisturizing skin care products. Due to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory capabilities, Cranberry Seed Oil is quite beneficial when added to acne treatments or other problematic skin conditions.