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Latvian Lingonberry
Latvian Lingonberry
Latvian Lingonberry
Latvian Lingonberry
Latvian Lingonberry
Latvian Lingonberry

Latvian Lingonberry

Regular price $4.25 Sale

Vaccinium vitis-idaea

 Origin: Latvia

Improvement status: Unknown

Seeds per packet: ~50

BOTANICAL SAMPLE - NOT GERMINATION TESTED

Life cycle: Perennial

Also called bearberry, cowberry, beaverberry, cougarberry, mountain cranberry, or partridgeberry, this pretty creeping evergreen groundcovering sub-shrub in the heather family makes tasty round red cranberry-like fruit every fall. In fact, the flavor is nearly indistinguishable from cranberries, though lingonberries will get sweeter than cranberries if left on the plant into winter. The plant is generally associated most with northern Europe in the popular imagination — especially Scandinavia ("lingon" is the Swedish name for the species), where they're a common side-dish served with meatballs, poultry, reindeer and other game, and blood pudding (see photo) — but it's actually native to boreal forests from Europe through Asia and across northern North America as well. Indigenous peoples in Alaska and Canada have a long history of utilizing lingonberries as a critical source of winter nutrition preserved in a dry state or as jam, sauce, or liquid. Many peoples make alcoholic drinks with them. 

In the continental US, lingonberries can be found growing wild in northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan, as well as New England (especially Maine) south to the Berkshires and possibly still Connecticut (thought the species may be locally extinct in the wild there). Lingberries don't much like heat, but they can survive down to -40 degrees, especially when protected under snow. They hold their leaves even through the coldest winters, unlike most of their Vaccinium cousins (blueberries and cranberries), which is an unusual trait for broad-leaved plants. Planted in a protected spot with partial shade, lingonberries can thrive far south of their natural range. They're considered most at home in USDA zones 2 through 6.

These seeds come from frozen berries imported from Latvia and found in an Eastern European market in Northeast Philadelphia.

GROWING TIPS: Pretreatment of the seeds should lead to a higher germination rate, but it may not be strictly necessary (particularly because our seeds were stored frozen in the fruit for a few months). It's recommended to put seeds in a container with slightly damp sand and keep at room temperature for 2-4 weeks before putting in the fridge for 1.5-3 months. Alternatively, you could plant directly in the ground in fall or very early in spring. Young plants should be protected from predators and weed pressure. Prefers full sun in cooler parts of the country, but will want partial shade in warmer areas.