The lingonberry

(Vaccinium vitis-idaea)

The lingonberry plant has stems between 5 and 30 centimetres long that grow erect or ascending. The leaves are pointed and green, with a light green underside. Unlike some plants that lose leaves in the autumn, the lingonberry plant keeps its glaucous leaves and they even survive the winter.
The lingonberry flowers in June and typically loses its flowers at the end of the month. In northern Finland, flowering begins later than in southern Finland and flowers may not fall until the beginning of July. In the study of Nuortila (2007), peak flowering, when more than 40 % of the flowers were open, lasted for 10 days. The time from the first flowers opening until the last flowers started wilting covered approximately three weeks.


The flowers have enclosing petals 5 to 8 mm long that are white or a reddish hue. An inflorescence is found at the tip
of the stem in a tight raceme. Successful flowering requires favourable weather conditions and a sufficient number of pollinators. The main pollinators of lingonberry are bumblebees and mining bees.

Lingonberry has round, red and juicy berries that are slightly acidic. The berries are ready to be picked between the end of August and the beginning of October.


Where to find them

Lingonberries grow throughout Finland. It is the most common shrub in Finnish forests, a berry plant that produces its fruit the most. It typically grows in dry, semi-dry and mesic boreal forests. Lingonberry plants can also be found in boreal swamplands, broadleaf woodlands, coniferous swamplands, cliffs, tundra heaths and the edge of a field.


The lingonberry produces the largest yield of wild berries in Finland. It has been estimated that the average annual yield is 257 million kg (Turtiainen et al. 2007). Berry yields vary greatly from year to year as there are numerous factors affecting berry crops. In 1997-2018, the range of variation in total yields was from 103 to 412 million kg (Turtiainen 2021). The lingonberry flora that will garner the most yields are usually in open spaces that do not have trees overshadowing them. The best berry spots produce a yield of 100 and 500 kilograms per hectare.