Vaccinium vitis-idaea lingonberry

Alaska Wildflowers | White | Pink

The flowers of the lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) also commonly known as the lowbush cranberry in Alaska

Vaccinium vitis-idaea lingonberry

Common Names

bearberry
lingonberry
lowbush cranberry
mountain cranberry
northern mountain cranberry
partridgeberry
redberry

Synonyms

Vacinium vitis-idaea ssp. minus
Vaccinium vitis-idaea var. punctatum

Subspecies

none (synonyms are sometimes listed as subspecies – no longer accepted, differentiated only by leaf size)

Genus: Vaccinium (blueberries, huckleberry, blueberry)
Family: Ericaceae
Order: Ericales
full classification

Duration – Growth Habit

Perennial – Shrub/subshrub

Identification and Information

The lingonberry (called lowbush cranberry commonly in Alaska, although it has many common names), is a small perennial subshrub with small white or pink flowers that ripen into red berries. It grows from fibrous roots. The stems are horizontal at the ground, branching extensively, often forming a mat. The aerial stems are erect and can be 10-30 cm tall (sometimes shorter). The evergreen leaves are alternately distributed along the stems, attached via 1-1.5 mm long petioles. The leaf blades are oblong or elliptic, typically 4-12 mm long, veined (with a strong central vein), and slightly rolled under at the margins.



The inflorescence is terminal on the flowering stems with 2-7 small, nodding flowers. The flower pedicels are very short (1-2 mm long). The bract leaves are rose-colored and 2-5 mm long. The sepals are wine-colored and only about 1 mm wide. The petals (corolla) are fused, bell-shaped, about 5 mm long, and are pink or white. The filaments and anthers are 1.5 mm long and are inside the bell. The flower has a single style and an inferior ovary with 4 carpels. The berries are red or purplish-red and 5-10 mm in diameter.

Uses

For information only (typically historical) – I take no responsibility for adverse effects from the use of any plant.

The berries of the lingonberry are a popular food with many health benefits being high in vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. They can be eaten raw or cooked, preserved or frozen for use in winter. They are frequently used to make juice, jam, sauces, syrups, desserts, and liqueurs. The Tanana Athabaskans used the berries as a cold remedy or cough medicine and Gwich’in used it to treat kidney problems. Additionally, the leaves can be used to make tea, which can provide cough relief.

The berries often taste slightly acidic, but mellow and sweeten a bit in the fall (we typically pick them after the first frost as they are often more mealy before then).


Affiliate link – I earn a commission if you shop through the link(s) below at no additional cost to you (more info)

Distribution and Habitat

Vaccinium vitis-idaea has a widespread circumboreal distribution including Alaska, Canada, some New England, and northern midwest states in the US, Greenland, Iceland, most of Europe, Siberia, China, Japan and both Koreas.

It’s found in tundra, ridges, mountain summits, alpine grasslands, bogs, and woodlands, tending to live in imperfectly drained soil.

Classification

RankScientific Name (Common Name)
KingdomPlantae (plantes, Planta, Vegetal, plants)
   SubkingdomViridiplantae (green plants)
      InfrakingdomStreptophyta (land plants)
         SuperdivisionEmbryophyta 
            DivisionTracheophyta (vascular plants, tracheophytes)
               SubdivisionSpermatophytina (spermatophytes, seed plants, phanérogames)
                  ClassMagnoliopsida 
                     SuperorderAsteranae 
                        OrderEricales 
                           FamilyEricaceae (heaths, éricacées)
                              GenusVaccinium L. (blueberries, huckleberry, blueberry)
                                 SpeciesVaccinium vitis-idaea L. (lingonberry, northern mountain cranberry)

References and Further Reading

Guidebook

Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg. 69

Classification and Taxonomy

V. vitis-idaea L. Taxonomic Serial No.: 505637, ITIS Database

V. vitis-idaea L. lingonberry, USDA Database

Uses

V. vitis-idaea L., Native American Ethnobotany Database

Nutritional Composition and Antioxidant Properties of Fruits and Vegetables 2020, Pages 437-455, Ross, Kelly, Siow, Yaw, Debnath, Samir

Map and Distribution

V. vitis-idaea Mountain Cranberry, NatureServe Explorer

V. vitis-idaea L. Published in: Sp. Pl.: 351 (1753), GBIF Database

Description and Information

V. vitis-idaea Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 351. 1753., Flora of North America

V. vitis-idaea L. subsp. minus (Lodd.) Hultén, Flora of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago

Support This Site

Consider becoming a member to access exclusive perks and support the sustainability of this valuable resource. Already a member? Log in here!

Level

Free

Trailblazer Monthly

Explorer Monthly

Patron Monthly

Price

Free.

$3.00 per Month.

$6.00 per Month.

$10.00 per Month.

Description

golden sunlight diffuses through the dense stand of snow-laden spruce trees, casting long shadows and bathing the forest in a warm, hazy light.

  Select Select Select Select
Occasional Newsletter Yes Yes Yes Yes
Free Articles Yes Yes Yes Yes
Exclusive Content* No Yes Yes Yes
Ad-free browsing** No No Yes Yes
Discounts on Prints No No Yes Yes
Priority Responses For Questions No No No Yes
Advanced Notice On New Content No No No Yes
More In-depth Content No No No Yes
  Select Select Select Select

Free

golden sunlight diffuses through the dense stand of snow-laden spruce trees, casting long shadows and bathing the forest in a warm, hazy light.

  • Occasional Newsletter
  • Free Articles
Select

Free.

Trailblazer Monthly

  • Occasional Newsletter
  • Free Articles
  • Exclusive Content*
Select

$3.00 per Month.

Explorer Monthly

  • Occasional Newsletter
  • Free Articles
  • Exclusive Content*
  • Ad-free browsing**
  • Discounts on Prints
Select

$6.00 per Month.

Patron Monthly

  • Occasional Newsletter
  • Free Articles
  • Exclusive Content*
  • Ad-free browsing**
  • Discounts on Prints
  • Priority Responses For Questions
  • Advanced Notice On New Content
  • More In-depth Content
Select

$10.00 per Month.

* I don’t plan on hiding much content behind a paywall because I believe it should be open and accessible to all. However, maintaining this website involves a significant investment of both time and money. I spend countless hours building and writing these pages and articles and incur thousands of dollars annually to keep the site running.

Your support through membership helps cover these expenses and allows me to continue providing high-quality content. Membership allows you to access exclusive perks and content and contribute to this valuable resource's sustainability. Thank you for your support!

** Ads and affiliate links will still be shown on relevant content, like in gear reviews.

   

Add a comment

*Please complete all fields correctly

Related Posts

A close-up of Pedicularis langsdorffii, commonly known as Langsdorff's lousewort or Arctic fernweed. The plant features a dense, terminal spike of pink to lavender flowers, each flower exhibiting a two-lipped (bilabiate) structure. The upper lip (galea) is strongly arched and hood-like, with a pair of slender teeth near the tip, while the lower lip has three rounded lobes and is slightly paler. The inflorescence is mixed with leaf-like bracts, which are deeply pinnately divided, with serrate margins. The flowers and bracts are attached to an erect, somewhat long-woolly stem. The background is a blurred mix of green foliage, emphasizing the intricate details and vibrant colors of the Pedicularis langsdorffii flowers.
A single stem of Orthilia secunda, commonly known as one-sided wintergreen or sidebells wintergreen, is shown in a forested setting. The plant features a raceme of small, nodding, greenish-white flowers arranged along the upper side of the stem. The basal leaves are broad, dark green, and slightly serrated, with a few additional leaves visible on the lower part of the stem. The surrounding environment includes moss and fallen leaves, with a nearby plant exhibiting rounder, glossy green leaves. Orthilia secunda thrives in this shaded, moist forest habitat.
A single stem of Pyrola chlorantha, commonly known as green-flowered wintergreen, stands upright in a forested area. The plant features small, nodding, greenish-white flowers arranged along the upper part of the stem, with each flower delicately hanging down. The basal leaves are rounded and dark green, clustered at the base of the stem. The background is a forest floor covered in moss and fallen pine needles, indicating a moist, shaded habitat typical for this species. Pyrola chlorantha is known for its circumboreal distribution, inhabiting coniferous and deciduous forests across Alaska, Canada, and northern regions of the United States, Europe, and Asia.