What does a lingonberry plant look like - garden, wild, botanical description
Each gardener tries to plant as many healthy and tasty crops as possible on his plot. Surely, everyone grows raspberries, currants, gooseberries, but not many people know about such a culture as lingonberries. This wonderful plant, which has excellent decorativeness and wonderful fruits, has not yet been sufficiently studied by gardeners, although it deserves the best praise.
Lingonberry - Botanical Description
Today lingonberries are not often found in summer cottages. This is due to the fact that they have been cultivating it not so long ago and few people know that this forest plant can be planted in a personal plot. Meanwhile, garden varieties, as a result of the work of breeders, perfectly take root, adapt to different climatic conditions and give good yields.
Now the cultivation of new varieties is being carried out by scientists from countries such as Russia, Belarus, the USA, Holland, Germany, Poland, etc. It has been noticed that the yield of lingonberries on cultural plantations is much higher (about 20 times) compared with its thickets in the wild and makes from 3 c from 1 hectare and above.
Which family belongs to
Lingonberry belongs to the Vereskovs family, representatives of which grow in groups and often form continuous thickets remotely resembling a lush carpet. Culture is one of the few in this family that has edible fruits, and also quite useful ones. Today, lingonberries, along with cranberries, blueberries are grown not only in private gardens, but also on an industrial scale. This is due to the medicinal properties of heather, which are used not only in folk, but also in traditional medicine.
Another feature of the plants of this family is their love for moist acidic soils.
Despite many years of selection work, lingonberries still retained their requirements for soil composition and, probably, it is not possible to change this. The fact is that, like all heather, lingonberry closely coexists with mushrooms - its roots are literally braided with thin mushroom mycelium, which is able to develop normally only in an acidic environment.
Appearance, leaves, flowers, root system
Lingonberry is a small shrub with branched shoots, the height of which barely reaches 20 cm. The bush has one peculiarity - if in the process of growth it has to overcome difficult areas, for example, to grow through the bark of a rotten stump, its height can reach 1 m. Young stems have a dark green color, which acquires a gray hue closer to autumn.
Did you know? The lower plane of the foliage has a point formation, in the cells of which contains a mucous substance that absorbs water. Thus, the bush literally drinks, since water droplets falling on the upper leaf cover drain onto their opposite side, fall into formations and are absorbed by the plant.
Shoots are densely covered with leathery leaves on short petioles. Platinum sheets up to 3 cm long and about 1.5 cm wide are mostly elliptical with curved edges. The color of the leaves on top is dark green, glossy, and below - light green, matte. At the end of spring, a period of bud blooming begins - the bushes are covered with small white or pale pink bell-shaped flowers with four lobes slightly deflected to the sides. They are collected in apical brushes of 10–20 pcs. During flowering, corollas wilted to hide pollen from moisture.
The lingonberry root system is creeping, grows horizontally in the soil, gives underground shoots with sleeping buds. It lies quite close to the surface of the earth at a depth of 3-5 cm. The roots are completely braided with mycelium of mushrooms - thin white threads. In this case, interchange of nutrients occurs - mushrooms feed on the juice produced by the plant, and in return give it useful micro and macro elements obtained from the soil.
In August - September, the fruit ripens, when the bushes are covered with small, up to 8 mm in diameter, round berries. They are red in color and gleam slightly in the sun. Fruits are of considerable value to humans - they contain a large complex of useful biologically active substances. The berries contain vitamins of groups B, A, E, C, organic acids (malic, citric, acetic, etc.), as well as macrocells: phosphorus, iron, potassium, manganese.
Important! Lingonberry has the ability to accumulate radioactive substances. You can eat only those fruits in which you are sure that they are collected in safe places, and not along highways or near landfills with industrial waste.
The high content of tannins positively affects the work of the gastrointestinal tract, and the antiseptic glycoside arbutin contained in the berry improves recovery processes after various diseases. The use of lingonberry berries strengthens the immune system, the cardiovascular system, helps to improve the functioning of the nervous system, normalizes metabolism. No wonder cranberries were called the berry of immortality.
Lingonberry flavor is characterized as sweet and sour, but it may vary depending on the place of growth.
Berries at the beginning of ripening, in addition to sweetness, they have a bitter-tart flavor that disappears with time. Garden varieties, bred by breeders, for the most part lack such an aftertaste, since one of the tasks facing scientists was to improve the taste characteristics of the culture.
Bright red lingonberry berries in the wild attract various birds and animals, which, using them as food, carry seeds in this way, propagating the culture. Young green stalks peck at the beginning of summer.
At home, gardeners use several methods to increase their lingonberry plantation by propagating the variety they like:
- Seeds. This method is rarely used in simple gardening, but still there are cowberry lovers who want to receive a large amount of new material in one go. Indeed, reproduction in this way has a big plus in that you can get a lot of new bushes. However, keep in mind that this work is quite lengthy and time-consuming. In addition, according to experts, the bushes grown from seeds will not outperform the varietal characteristics of the mother plant. After collecting the berries, seeds are extracted from them and placed for stratification for 4 months in a cool place with a temperature of + 3 ... + 5 ° С. In the spring they are sown in a prepared greenhouse (you can take a regular pot and cover it with polyethylene). Sprinkle with soil on top is not worth it - the seeds germinate in the light. In a month and a half, 4-5 leaves will appear on seedlings and it will need to be transplanted into a spacious container, keeping a distance of 5 cm from each other. So the plants should develop until next spring, and only then they can be transplanted into the open ground.
- Cuttings. Lingonberries can be propagated with green or lignified cuttings about 6-7 cm long. The first are harvested in the middle of summer, and the second in April, when the period of swelling begins. The material is planted in fertilized soil to a depth of 3-4 cm so that a few centimeters remain visible above the surface of the earth. Planting can be carried out in the open ground or organize a greenhouse. Cuttings should preferably be treated with a stimulant before planting, for example, "Kornevin"- so they will take root faster.The first roots begin to appear in about a month, and the final rooting will occur after another couple of months. During all this time, the landing should be watered and sprayed. For winter, the bed is covered with mulch and covered (with polyethylene, spanbond or other covering material). Next spring, the bushes can be transplanted into separate beds for growing.
- Root offspring. This type of reproduction is practiced in the autumn. An adult lingonberry bush needs to be slightly dug up and a part of the rhizome, on which there is a kidney and growth shoots, is separated. The material must be immediately planted in a new landing pit so that the roots do not begin to dry out. Digging holes for planting at a distance of about 50 cm, each of them should have a depth of 30 cm and a diameter of about 25 cm. First, you need to add a mixture of horse peat, sand and needles in a ratio of 5: 1: 1, you can add 20 –25 g of sulfur - lingonberry treats it very positively. They plant the planting, pour 5-7 liters of water and mulch with pine bark, peat.
In the process of growing lingonberries, you need to constantly maintain proper soil moisture, periodically apply complex mineral fertilizers (for example, “Activin») At the rate of 20-30 g per 1 m². Do not forget to mulch the soil with peat - it will help preserve the soil moisture, protect it from overheating, and also give the soil additional recharge of substances useful for lingonberry.
Lingonberry belongs to frost-resistant plants and grows mainly in those areas where harsh winters and summers are pretty cool. There are no special soil requirements. In the wild, the plant can grow both on fertile soils and on poor ones with a low content of mineral components, however, it loves the soil to have high acidity. On the territory of Russia, you can often find lingonberry thickets in the forests of the Far East and Western Siberia, as well as in the regions of Yakutia, Karelia, Altai and the Urals.
In addition, the natural environment of the culture are peat bogs, coniferous forests, rocky soil and open meadows.
Lingonberry forest, features
Forest lingonberries can grow on a large carpet, for example, in the tundra, or in small areas that are popularly called lingonberries. Wild plants are modest in size, reaching a height of not more than 20 cm. The fruits are also quite small - no more than 7-8 mm in diameter. Nevertheless, it does not occupy useful properties - it is not for nothing that it has been used for centuries by folk healers to treat various ailments.
Important! In the forests you can find a poisonous plant - red nightshade, the fruits of which are very similar to lingonberries, but their use will lead to severe poisoning. Collect only those fruits in which you are sure.
Wild lingonberries in nature propagated by seeds and root offspring. Moreover, seed germination is quite high, reaching 90–95%, while seedlings very quickly form overground and root offspring. Due to the speed of processes, lingonberries are able to grow rapidly, “conquering” large areas.
Forest lingonberry hails from the northern latitudes, it has excellent frost resistance, calmly surviving temperature drops to -35 ° C without cover. At the same time, the plant does not take root well in the territories of the southern regions - here it can be found extremely rarely.
Garden lingonberry: differences from forest, characteristic
Lingonberry cultivation as a garden culture began not so long ago - about 50 years ago. But over this time period more than 20 varieties have been bred, which have gained considerable popularity. The main tasks that were set for breeders were to increase the yield of lingonberries, to improve its survival in different climatic conditions, so that the crop could be safely grown in the southern regions. Also, the work was aimed at improving the taste and healthy qualities of the fruit.
Did you know? Lingonberry is pollinated with bumblebees. To attract them to the bush, some gardeners apply spraying of plants with a honey solution (per 10 l of water 80–100 g of honey).
It should be noted that scientists were able to translate many positive characteristics into new varieties. For example, varieties capable of taking root in the southern regions and withstand drought (“Red pearlsand", "Coral"). Garden lingonberries are often represented by taller shrubs whose stems reach 40–50 cm in height, such as, for example, the Fleece Belyavsky variety. The fruits of some varieties are quite large, their diameter is 12-14 mm, which is practically not found in the wild.
Under the sun, plants are less sick and bear fruit better, and berries have a more pleasant dessert taste and aroma than wild fruits.
Compliance with the rules of agricultural technology is also of no small importance - regular feeding of shrubs, mulching, thinning of dense thickets - all this gives the best conditions for obtaining a good harvest. This garden lingonberry differs sharply from forest. The presence of bushes in well-lit areas is one of the basic conditions that a gardener must observe.
Despite the division of lingonberries into garden and forest, we can say with confidence that both are equally useful. The high decorative qualities of shrubs deserve attention: forest trees serve as decoration of forest edges, meadows, and garden ones are frequent elements of landscape design of house plots giving beauty all year round.