Northern mountain cranberry

Prepared by Jennifer L. D’Appollonio, Assistant Scientist, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469. Updated February 2018.

Scientific name: Vaccinium vitis-idaea L. ssp. minus (Lodd.) Hultén

Common name(s): northern mountain cranberry, mountain cranberry, lingonberry

Links: USDA PLANTS Profile, NPIN Profile, Go Botany

Images: (to see enlargements [PC]: click on image, then right click and choose “view image”)

Vaccinium vitis-idaea ssp minus1
on wooded edge of blueberry field, mid-July



-low creeping evergreen

-dominant understory plant

-spreads by rhizomes

-reproduces by seeds

-thick simple obovate leaves

  • turn purple in the fall



-can survive in harsh areas

-exposed sites

-rocky ledges


-occurs in early successional areas


-important browsing species for livestock and wildlife

  • berries and foliage
  • utilized by moose

-Poor fruit production due to

  • lack of pollinators
  • cold damp weather
  • late spring frost
  • too much shade


– susceptible to herbicides such as 2,4-D and 2,4,5-T

Natural History:

-berries can be eaten raw or made into a tart jam

-leaves were used to treat bladder problems



U.S. Forest Service. “Fire Effects Information System (FEIS).” Vaccinium Vitis-Idaea, 2020,