Vaccinium vitis-idaea

Common Name: lingonberry 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Ericaceae
Native Range: Temperate Northern Hemisphere
Zone: 3 to 7
Height: 0.25 to 1.00 feet
Spread: 1.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: April to May
Bloom Description: White with pink blush
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Medium
Suggested Use: Ground Cover
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Evergreen
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy, Edible
Other: Winter Interest


Best grown in evenly moist, acidic, well-draining, peaty loams in full sun to part shade. Plant in full sun for best fruiting. Fertilize lightly in spring. Avoid disturbing the roots. Intolerant of foot traffic. Hardy in Zones 3-7. Will struggle to thrive in climates with long, hot summers and cold winters lacking sufficient snow cover.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Vaccinium vitis-idaea, commonly called lingonberry, is a short, mat-forming, evergreen shrub native to boreal pine forests, rocky barrens, bog edges, heaths, arctic tundra, and mountain slopes in the northern reaches of Europe, Asia, and North America. Mature plants will reach up to 1' tall and spread by underground rhizomes to form colonies of 3' wide or more. The glossy, dark green, oval leaves are held on thin, wiry stems and can reach around 0.5" long and 0.25" wide. Loose, terminal clusters of 3-10 small, nodding, white to pink blushed, urn-shaped flowers bloom in spring and are followed by small, bright red, round, tart berries. The berries are eaten by birds including grouse, ravens, and migrating songbirds as well as mammals including voles, chipmunks, foxes, and black bears. The foliage is an important winter food source for moose, caribou, and hares.

The genus name Vaccinium comes from an ancient Latin name apparently derived from a prehistoric Mediterranean language. Its origin and meaning are generally considered to be lost to time.

The specific epithet vitis-idaea comes from Latin meaning "vine of Mount Ida". Mount Ida was a sacred mountain in Greek mythology.


Generally pest and disease free. Susceptible to phytophthora root rot.


A low maintenance, evergreen ground cover in the right climates and growing conditions. The berries are used in many culinary traditions around the globe. They can be eaten raw or cooked in jams, jellies, and preserves.