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Vaccinium vitis-idaea (Lingonberry)
Hampton, Nan

Vaccinium vitis-idaea

Vaccinium vitis-idaea L.

Lingonberry, Northern Mountain-cranberry, Cowberry

Ericaceae (Heath Family)


USDA Symbol: vavi

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N), GL (N), SPM (N)

A low, creeping, diffusely branched shrub with leathery, oval, evergreen leaves. Pinkish, nodding, bell-shaped flowers occur in small, terminal clusters and are followed by red, edible berries.

The acidic fruits, sometimes called lingonberries, are somewhat bitter. They often overwinter on the plant and become sweeter by the time the snow melts.


From the Image Gallery

13 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Berry
Size Notes: Mat-forming, up to about 6 inches tall.
Fruit: Red

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul
Bloom Notes: Pinkish white.


USA: AK , CT , MA , ME , MI , MN , NH , VT , WI
Canada: AB , BC , NB , NS , PE , QC
Native Distribution: Greenland to AK, s. at high elevations to New England, n. MN & in the west to B.C.
Native Habitat: Bogs; rocky areas

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
Soil Description: Acid, peaty or rocky soils.
Conditions Comments: Commonly grown as a ground cover in the Pacific Northwest.


Use Food: The acid fruits are somewhat bitter but can be used as a substitute for regular cranberries when cooked. (Niering)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Native Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


Description: Vaccinium species are propagated by seeds, cuttings and rooted suckers of offshoots.
Seed Treatment: Dormancy varies. Cold-moist stratification may be necessary.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Advice on planting Korean dogwood (Cornus kousa) in Vancouver, BC
October 26, 2007
I live in the Vancouver, BC - Pacific Northwest area and the front of our yard faces south to southwest. If I were to plant a tree other than an evergreen, would the Korean Dogwood thrive in this are...
view the full question and answer

National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1990 VOL. 7, NO.2 - Preservation Blooms in Recreated Prairies, New Wildflower Center Prairie Welcome...

Additional resources

USDA: Find Vaccinium vitis-idaea in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Vaccinium vitis-idaea in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Vaccinium vitis-idaea


Record Modified: 2023-03-01
Research By: TWC Staff

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