Jepson eFlora: Taxon page
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Empetrum nigrum

Higher Taxonomy
Family: EricaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key

Habit: Perennial herb, shrub, tree. Stem: bark often peeling distinctively. Leaf: simple or 0, generally cauline, alternate, opposite (whorled), evergreen or deciduous, often leathery, petioled or not; stipules 0. Inflorescence: raceme, panicle, cyme, or flowers 1, terminal or axillary, generally bracted; pedicel often with 2 bractlets. Flower: generally bisexual, generally radial, bell-shaped, cylindric, or urn-shaped; sepals generally (0)4--5, generally free; petals generally (0)4--5, free or fused; stamens (2--5)8--10, free, filaments rarely appendaged, anthers dehiscing by pores or slits, awns 0 or 2(4), seemingly abaxial, reduced or elongate, generally curved; nectary generally present at ovary base, generally disk-like; ovary superior or inferior, chambers generally 1--5, placentas axile or parietal, ovules 1--many per chamber, style 1, stigma head- to funnel-like or lobed. Fruit: capsule, drupe, berry. Seed: generally many, winged or not.
Genera In Family: +- 100 genera, 3000 species: generally worldwide except deserts; some cultivated, especially Arbutus, Arctostaphylos, Rhododendron, Vaccinium. Note: Monophyletic only if Empetraceae included, as treated here. Ledum included in Rhododendron. Non-green plants obtain nutrition from green plants through fungal intermediates.
eFlora Treatment Author: Gary D. Wallace, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Gary D. Wallace, Thomas J. Rosatti.
Genus: EmpetrumView Description 

Habit: Subshrub to low shrub, evergreen; generally dioecious. Stem: spreading to decumbent, densely branching. Leaf: alternate or whorled, linear to +- oblong, stiff, strongly rolled under, apparent groove abaxially. Inflorescence: axillary or terminal, flowers 1 or in few-flowered clusters, +- sessile. Flower: unisexual [bisexual], reduced, perianth parts 3--6, +- free, dark purple-red, subtended by scaly bracts. Fruit: drupe, generally juicy. Seed: stones 2--9.
Species In Genus: 2--4 species: circumboreal, southern Chile, Tierra del Fuego. Etymology: (Greek: on rocks, from habitat) Note: Wind-pollinated.
eFlora Treatment Author: Kathleen A. Kron

Empetrum nigrum L.
Stem: generally decumbent, branches 15--40 cm. Leaf: crowded, 3--6 mm, glabrous except along groove. Staminate Flower: stamens (2)3(4). Pistillate Flower: ovary superior, chambers 2--9, style deeply 2--9-lobed. Fruit: 4--6 mm wide, black or purple-black, occasionally red.
Ecology: Coastal cliffs on rocks; Elevation: < 200 m. Bioregional Distribution: n NCo (Del Norte, Humboldt cos.); Distribution Outside California: to Alaska; circumboreal. Flowering Time: Apr--May Note: If recognized taxonomically, plants with bisexual flowers assignable to Empetrum nigrum var. hermaphroditum (Hagerup) T.J. Sørensen.
Unabridged Note: California populations scattered, small. If recognized taxonomically, plants with bisexual flowers assignable to Empetrum nigrum var. hermaphroditum (Hagerup) T.J. Sørensen. Most California plants seem dioecious.
eFlora Treatment Author: Kathleen A. Kron
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Listed on CNPS Rare Plant Inventory

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botanical illustration including Empetrum nigrum


Citation for this treatment: Kathleen A. Kron 2017. Empetrum nigrum, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 28, 2017.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2017. Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 28, 2017.

Geographic subdivisions for Empetrum nigrum:
n NCo (Del Norte, Humboldt cos.);
Markers link to CCH specimen records. Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues. Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).

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Data provided by the participants of the Consortium of California Herbaria.
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CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time.