Lingonberries are small, pea-sized berries that grow on small, evergreen shrubs. At most, the bush will grow up to 16 inches (40cm) tall. Its waxy leaves are a dark green. The plant is native to both Northern Europe and North America, but does not grow well in areas that have hot summers. It propagates itself via underground roots. The bush produces white flowers (unlike the Cranberry bush, to which it is often compared, which has pink flowers.)
The bush will start being fruit in its second year of growth. It blooms in early spring and again in summer, allowing it to bear two crops of fruit equalling about a pound (450g) of berries a year. The final crop of the year will ripen in early fall.
The berries are still generally harvested from the wild, though attempts are being made at cultivation. Some North American farmers are looking at getting into the business of cultivating Lingonberries owing to the growing red tape around growing cranberries (which requires water usage permits, etc.) Commercially, the berries are harvested using berry rakes. In Germany, testing is now (2004) underway on mechanical harvesting.
The berries are similar to Cranberries in shape, colour and texture, though they are not as tart as Cranberries. They are usually sold as juice, syrups or preserves.
Lingonberry varieties include Koralle, Sanna, Splendor, Sussi, Red Pearl, Regal and Dwarf Lingonberry
"Vaccinium vitis-idaea var. vitis-idaea L." is the scientific name of the European version of Lingonberries; "Vaccinium vitis-idaea var. minus Lodd." is the North American version.
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