Lingonberries (Vaccinium vitis-idaea)

I stumbled across these little fellas on a walk across Burbage just a few days ago, seems unbelievable now that they should still be there in the midst of our snowy hills and grey skies. The flowers are still providing food for bees and other insects while the berries are a great source of nutrition for our over-wintering birds. The berries are edible for humans too and many people will have come across them in this country as sold by IKEA. They are a favourite in Scandinavian countries, especially in Finland, where they are used in a wide variety of savoury and sweet dishes.

Like bilberries and cranberries, lingonberries are a member of the heather family and are found growing on moorland areas. The berries contain significant amounts of vitamins A and C as well as magnesium, flavonoids and lignans which have a high antioxidant activity.

Lingonberry has been trialled for treatment of urinary tract infections, along with cranberry, and has been found to reduce the occurrence of these. Compounds in the berries may inhibit the bacterium E Coli, a common cause of the infection, from attaching to the bladder wall. The berries also contain anti inflammatory compounds such as quercetin which may be beneficial for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and the additional astringency of the herb may soothe inflammation of the digestive tract as well.