Vaccinium vitis-idaea 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 spread by underground rhizomes to form colonies of 3' wide or more. The glossy, dark green, oval leaves are held on thin, wiry stems. 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 quite tart, so they are often cooked and sweetened before eating in the form of lingonberry jam, compote, juice, smoothie or syrup. The raw fruits are also frequently simply mashed with sugar, which preserves most of their nutrients and taste.