August 24, 2017

Winter Green

Vaccinium vitis-idaea - lingonberry

Janine Pineo Photo | Vaccinium vitis-idaea – lingonberry

Vaccinium vitis-idaea is a precious plant, not easy to find here in the United States and not easy to grow. But lingonberry is a treat that should be considered if you can grow blueberries, a relative of this shallow-rooted groundcover that prefers an acidic soil. A member of the heath family, lingonberry is an evergreen shrub native to boreal forests and Arctic tundra and has long been a staple in the Scandinavian countries, where it grows wild like blueberries do here. The berry produced on this plant is smaller than a pea and is fairly sour until fully ripe, when the flavor is still tart like another relative – the cranberry – but much tastier raw. Lingonberries are a brilliant, glossy red when ripe, putting on quite a show against the leaves, which keep their rich green right through winter. The only thing we’ve found here at Garden Maine is that the plants we bought have taken years to establish themselves and are now happily colonizing the end of the bed they are in, spreading by underground stems. They are worth the wait.

Looking for lingonberry plants? Fedco Seeds has them.