American highbush cranberry (Viburnum trilobum)
Available/ships in fall. zones 2-7 This is the real, native, North American highbush cranberry—absolutely guaranteed! Most sources sell the European relative (Viburnum opulus) mislabeled as the American, or mixed lots of the two—and this includes most large institutional nurseries, like state departments of natural resources. There is no oversight of the mislabeling of these species. Many named cultivars such as Wentworth are not the American species, either.
Highbush cranberry is a very heavy and consistent producer of bright red cranberry-like fruit that ripens here from late August to mid September. Harvest as soon as the fruit is soft—there is no benefit in waiting for frost, although frost does not harm the fruit. The bush will grow lanky and vigorously, up to 20 feet tall, in moderate shade, but will only yield well in full sun, where it will be much shorter and compact. We use the fruit for juice, jelly, or just eating off the bush, or frozen. Mixed with apple puree they make a great fruit leather. Highbush cranberry thrives under the same conditions as nannyberry, except that it will tolerate even fully waterlogged soils. It does not need wet feet, but it is less drought-tolerant than nannyberry. Highbush cranberry likes high fertility and most soil types, including heavy clay. It is hardy to zone 2, surviving temperatures of -60˚F. See our varieties below:
Mondeaux is selected from along the Mondeaux River in Taylor County, WI. It is highly productive, has large clusters of large fruit that fruit that ripens about 10 days ahead of the wild average, with good flavor. This is the best highbush cranberry I have yet found, and it became locally famous where it occurred. When the original tree had to be removed for construction in 2015 I was granted permission to transplant it (with the help of a backhoe—it was 24 feet tall), so the source tree is now in my front yard. This variety will be commercially available from other nurseries in the future, but we are the original source, and currently the only. $25 per plant.
Sharon is selected from Price County in Wisconsin, but its seed source is not known, as it was purchased as an unnamed seedling by a kind local woman named Sharon who let me take cuttings from the bush in her yard some years ago. This variety has a unique form, the outer branches arching outward until the tips touch the ground and root after four or five years, even in full sun (this habit is normal in the wild, but predominantly occurs in shade). The fruit is average in size, better than average in flavor, and in full sun forms very large clusters and is very productive. Not available for 2022.
Flag River is selected from the Flag River bottoms in Bayfield County, Wisconsin. The fruit is the largest of my three varieties, with the best flavor, but the bush is not quite as productive as the other two, and the clusters are not as large. $25/Plant