(Vaccinium vitis-idaea ssp. minus)
Lingonberry, low-bush cranberry, mountain cranberry, rock cranberry, foxberry, cowberry, partridge berry
The Lingonberry is actually a name given to two kinds of very similar berries.
The lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) is a low, creeping bush that grows to about a foot tall and producing a tiny, red, oval fruit a little larger than a pea. The flavour is similar to the American cranberry but not as sharp.
The dwarf lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea minus) grows on a plant that is just a few inches high, producing bright pink blossoms and leaves that are less than a quarter inch long. It is similar to the lingonberry only smaller, growing on a small evergreen groundcover with showy heatherlike flowers that bloom twice a year. The berries should be picked when they become entirely red.
The lingonberry enjoys great esteem in the Nordic countries, especially in Finland, where it is the most popular berry because of its pleasant flavour and good keeping quality.
Crushed with sugar or made into a sauce, it is often served with meat. A compote/soup called “kiiseli”, also popular in Russia as “kisel”, and a whipped oatmeal are also made from these and other berries.
For the home-gardener, these berries, as well as the cranberry, blueberry, and huckleberry, and many others, all come from the same genus Vaccinium.
All require well-drained, acidic soil, rich in organic matter, and should be planted in a shady spot. They tend to be partially self-fertile; therefore, two or more cultivars will increase the yield.
In cold or dry areas, a mulch will help considerably in keeping the soil moist. The first year requires regular watering and then only when needed. Koralle is one popular example that grows in Europe on a tall bush and usually produces fruit the first year.
Red pearl (European Red) comes from wild European lingonberries and is a good pollinator for the Korelle. They are a very large and tasty fruit, easy to grow, and heavy producers, making them popular for the gardener.