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A creeping shrub with woody, branching stems, forming mats several feet across. Leaves narrowly to broadly elliptic or obovate, up to 1 in. long and 3⁄8 in. wide, acute or obtuse at the apex, cuneate at the base, finely glandular-serrate, upper surface glabrous or sometimes slightly hairy, glossy, underside paler green or glaucous, glabrous; petiole about 1⁄8 in. long. Stipules very small or wanting. Catkins appearing with or after the leaves on leafy peduncles, many-flowered, stout, about 3⁄8 in. long; scales obovate, silky, rosy-red at the tip. Stamen in effect solitary, the filaments being united throughout (more rarely are they free and the stamens two). Ovary distinctly stalked, glabrous, with a short style.
Native of Greenland and of Arctic eastern N. America, extending southward through Quebec and Newfoundland to some mountain-tops in New England. It is quite closely related to the European S. retusa, which differs from S. uva-ursi in its broader, usually truncate or retuse leaves equally green on both sides, almost glabrous catkin-scales and male flowers with always two stamens.