The lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), above, is one of two plants that play a large role in the subsistence economy of boreal Alaska. The other is bog blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum). Institute of Arctic Biology ecologist Christa Mulder and her research team are investigating whether the presence of the invasive legume sweetclover (Melilotus officinalis) can alter the production of fruits of lingonberry and blueberry.

Like many great plants, most nurseries don’t tell the downside or the total truth …they just try to sell and don’t really care if it dies once it gets to you. We care.


There are TWO types of Mountain cranberry, also called LINGONBERRY. Both are hard to grow but one is a bit easier and that’s the one we sell: Vaccinium vitis idea minor. It is native in the northern hemisphere globally, in cool summer areas, like here in Maine and Alaska. It has a smaller leaf than the other form called ‘Major’ which is more local in its distribution but common in Scandinavia. Major has a larger leaf and berries. It is sold by many other nurseries but is very hard to grow and there are named varieties of it. Be careful, we only sell “minor” at this time as it’s much easier..

Below pic showing the cololrful fruit display. The berries are edible and nutritious.


The Lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea minus), above, is one of two plants that play a large role in the subsistence economy of boreal Alaska. The other is bog blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum). This is a highly underused plant and has real commercial value, as well as being a great groundcover, where it can be grown.



In bloom …delightful flowers, similar to blueberry flowers. (closely related)


  • Acid, naturally peaty soil, damp and or
  • Acid, sandy, gravelly soil with some natural peaty material on top
  • No clay
  • Fair amount of light, even full sun
  • No competition from other plants-mosses are ok
  • No digging around it or walking anywhere near its roots. Remember, the biggest killer of all plants in this family is soil compaction!
  • Mulch with fine gravel, shredded oak leaves, or pine needles only
  • Northern climate: Maine, Vt, NH, Mass, Coastal RI, NW CT, Michigan, Minnesota, Upper Wisconsin, cooler upstate NY, High elevation areas in NY, NW NJ, Pacific NW. Maybe the highest elevation areas in NC and TN


I just saw that Stark Bros sells it in quart pots for twenty bucks…I won’t say rip off, but … and it’s not just them, most places sell it for outrageous prices. Just as important, those other nurseries do not tell you it can’t grow well in warm climates. Also most of those plants sold by the other nurseries, well, they aren’t growing it. They have them shipped in from the pacific NW and while I love those places, West coast grown Ligonberry in general,  just doesn’t adapt well in the east …it’s a fact. The Lingonberry you get from us at Eastern Plant  is grown here in Maine, outside! 

MOUNTAIN CRANBERRY-LINGONBERRY is a a scarce evergreen creeper with edible fruit. It needs coolish summers so is great for New Eng. and upper midwest. We grow this in the ground, making it MUCH MORE adaptable than any others grown in pots-remember to ask that if you get it elsewhere-we hope you don’t. The tiny waxy shiny leaves are on multitudes of stems to 5 inches high. In late spring, dangling pink bell flowers adorn the plant, later giving way to edible red berries that are great in jams or eating raw. It is much in demand in Europe for its edible berries. Just remember, it NEEDS acid peaty soil and half sun. Thrives in New England and can be grown in zones 3-6, see the list of states above

6 inch sod $12.95  3 for $30  6 for $57  12 for $99

To order just email us easternplant@juno.com

Dr “Oz” a few years back talked about this plant on his show; discussing the plants medicinal values and edible fruit were discussed. We received many calls after that from people wanting to order it. We told everyone of its needs and only sold it to northern areas – so we actually turned away many potential sales. We care

As far as its medicinal properties, some references say the leaves are antiseptic, astringent, diuretic, used in arthritis, rheumatism, diabetes and other ailments. The leaves are gathered in early summer and dried for later use. The mature fruits are eaten fresh or dried as a remedy for diarrhea and as a treatment for sore throats, coughs and colds. NOTE WE MAKE NO CLAIMS any of these uses actually work.

Below: in Scandinavia, Lingonberry jam is a staple, used as topping on pancakes, breads and many pastries. It is available here in the U.S. if you look around. You can grow some and make your own.



ABOVE: There it is growing wild in Maine. Note how there is just a little natural mulch around it. DON’T OVER mulch as it kills most plants, but kills them slowly, so in many cases it’s hard to “make the connection.”

What vitis-idaea means is a good guess. The standard interpretation by botanists who only speak English is that it means “Cow Grape from Mt. Ida”  (in Greece.) Another view is that it means “Dark Red Grape of Mt. Ida”.   Ιδία (ee-THEE-ah) in Greek means above all and the Lingonberry, which likes to hug the arctic circle, certainly grows above all

Each Spring, when the snow melts away, one of the first plants to appear is this favorite little groundcover with a long Latin name.  Vaccinium vitis-idaea ssp. minus and we have large patches of it.  Also known as ‘northern mountain cranberry,’ you can tell by its Latin name that it is a member of the blueberry family.  Among its relatives are Vaccinium macrocarpon, the American cranberry, Vaccinium angustifolium, the lowbush blueberry,

The mountain cranberry grows in northern climates as an understory plant in a variety of forest habitats and is able to survive poor soils and harsh conditions. In its native habitat, it can often go unnoticed. It also grows in what are called heaths here in Maine. Heaths are highly acid, open areas with plants in the ericacaous family. The areas are often damp yet it also grows wild in mountainous areas: hikers and climbers usually spot it as they’re sitting on a rock, trying desperately to catch their breath, while cursing whoever it was that talked them into such a difficult climb in the first place. In the wild, the small berries of mountain cranberry are an important food source for a variety of birds and mammals.  The berries are also palatable for humans and, in Japan and Europe, the fruit is widely processed and marketed; its a staple in Scandinavian diets.
In our garden we have mountain cranberry planted in soil that contains heavy amounts of sand and gravel.  Here in our Zone 5, the plant has had no problem with the cold winters.
Look at the gorgeous fall and winter color above

The plant is evergreen and at this time of the year, the foliage of mountain cranberry takes on a wonderful burgundy tint.  As for warm summer days plantings don’t seem to be bothered at all with summer heat here in Maine. They are all in full sun, with a good mulch of pea gravel which helps to retain adequate moisture.

 Mountain cranberry is very low growing (2-4 inches) and grows in dense rhizomatous colonies that typically form mats.  The roots are extremely fine, fibrous, and shallow growing and so, until established do not let it dry out.  Flowering occurs in late May. It’s not the kind of plant that will stop photographers in their tracks, but the small, pinkish, bell-shaped flowers are quite attractive as they appear in little clusters at the end of branch tips; fruit ripens in late August, early September.
This is a polite plant that minds its manners, is easy to control. Once established, mountain cranberry makes a beautiful spreading evergreen groundcover that brings with it both flower and fruit. The key is leaving it alone, not walking near it, and giving it the right soil

Because Lingonberries are plentiful in the forested areas of the Swedish inland, they are widely collected for jam. It has always been very popular with traditional dishes. Today, Lingonberries are often served as jam, for instance with oven-made thick pancakes, or they may be served as a relish with meat courses, they are even served with fried herring. The jam is also often used on mashed potatoes and the traditional oatmeal porridge, sometimes together with cinnaomon and perhaps, a little sugar.

Here are some Lingonberry jam tidbits: Fine Lingonberry jam is prepared only with berries, sugar and, optionally, a small amount of water. Cheaper varieties are diluted with apples and/or pectin. The finest Lingonberry “jam” is prepared fresh by just mixing berries and sugar, without boiling; this is called rårörda lingonor rørte tyttebær (raw-stirred lingonberries). Before the use of refined sugar became common in Sweden, lingonberry jam was prepared with lingonberries as the only ingredient. Because of the Benzoic acid, which is found in high amounts in Lingonberries, the berries keep well without any sugar or other preservatives.

6 inch sod $12.95  3 for $30  6 for $57  12 for $99

To order just email us easternplant@juno.com