Shrubs 3-20(-30) cm; twigs terete, with persistent old leaves or petioles. Leaves: petiole winged, 1-4 mm, ciliate on margins, or hairy; blade obovate to oblanceolate, 4-15 × 0.7-8(-20) mm, base attenuate-cuneate, decurrent onto petiole, apex acute, obtuse, or rounded, surfaces rugose, glabrous or hairy. Inflorescences 2-4(-7)-flowered; bracts ovate, membranous. Pedicels 0.1-0.6 mm. Flowers: sepals pale green or yellow, 0.8-1.2 mm, apex acute; corolla yellow, whitish, or green (pale yellowish green), 3.5-4.5 mm, lobes recurved, greenish, rounded, 0.5 mm, glabrous; stamens 1-2 mm; anthers reddish, becoming yellow, 0.6-0.7 mm, horns 0.1-0.2 mm. Fruits black-purple, 6-9 mm diam. Pyrenes 2.7-4.6 × 2-3.6 mm. 2n = 26, 28. Flowering early summer. Tundra, gravelly beach ridges, lichen heaths, open, boggy, coniferous woods, dry, wind-swept and snow-free fellfields in arctic and alpine tundra; 0-2500 m; Greenland; Alta., B.C., Man., Nfld. and Labr., N.W.T., Nunavut, Ont., Que., Yukon; Alaska, Maine, N.H.; n Europe; Asia. In Greenland, Arctous alpina reaches 77º north latitude on the eastern coast.