Rubus chamaemorus

Cloudberry, photo: Arne Ader

Cloudberries can withstand –40 °C, but is sensitive to salt and dryness. They prefer damp sunny places with acidic soil. In Estonia, cloudberries can, at times, grow massively. They grow in bogs, transitional bogs, and bog forests, usually with pine-trees and peat moss. They prefer places that are low in nutrients. The stem is upright; usually, 2–4 round/kidney-shaped dark green leaves with 5–7 lobes, which are slightly folded, are attached to it. The flowers are homogenous, with 4–6 white petals. The flowers are situated individually at the top of the stem. Even though the fruits of cloudberries are usually called berries, it is actually a cane fruit. The cane fruit can contain 5–25 ‘seeds’, each of which contains a pit. The spherical fruit is, at first, hard and red; but as it becomes ripe, it becomes yellow and soft. Its fruit is fragrant and delicious. It contains sugars, citric acid, and vitamin C. The fruits also contain benzoic acid, which is a natural preservative, hence why the fruits preserve well. Fresh berries have a unique sour taste. Over-ripe berries become creamy and their taste resembles yoghurt. In folk medicine, the fruit and the whole plant have been used in the treatment of cough, tuberculosis, rheumatism, and diseases of urinary bladder and heart. Sailors and Nordic peoples have used cloudberries to avoid scurvy (a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency).