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Empetrum nigrum

The crowberry used to be one of the most important berries that the Sámi picked. Therefore, it was simply called muorji, that is, “the berry”. It could be added to bread dough, porridge, fish liver or fish eggs. However, it was usually eaten fresh. It was used as a cure for fever, headache and exhaustion as well as protection against scurvy, a disease caused by a shortage of vitamin C. Crowberry bushes were used for wiping the cleaned fish and burnt as a protection against mosquitoes. Crowberries can be made into a delicious juice by simmering or with the help of citric acid. The crowberries that are preserved for winter by freezing are picked before they turn soft.

In the Nordic countries, there are two subspecies of the crowberry: the crowberry and the Northern mountain crowberry (Empetrum hermaphroditum). The latter one, which is common in Northern Finland, yields a lot of berries almost every year, whereas the southern subspecies seldom produces berries. The Northern mountain crowberry favours forest soils, marshlands and treeless fell areas.