SCISUN: Have yourself a Little Berry Christmas   Leave a comment

Young ReindeerAs you can see, this Reindeer (Rangifer tarandus) doesn’t have a red nose. The only reindeer we know of that always has a red nose, is Rudolph; but we suspect there’s a story behind that.

In the area of the Arctic Circle and above – all the way to the North Pole, the top of the world – wherever there’s land, and not just ice and ocean, there are reindeer. And there’s not much for reindeer to eat, so they usually live on moss and lichen and other slight, modest, grow-close-to-the-ground-type plants. Even the largest plant in the area, the Lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea), only grows to about 12 inches at it’s tallest. Every fall, each ligonberry plant produces hundreds of small ligonberries (not like it would grow any other types of berries) that almost all Arctic animals gorge themselves on whenever they come across the plant. The lingonberry is closely related to the blueberry and cranberry, so you know they’re good for snacking. But the most interesting fact about these lingonberries is, they have a curious affect on reindeer; who, if they eat too many, become playful and mellow and basically just want to lay back and chill. And the berries can also make blood vessels slightly widen and the blood become more visible under the skin – which means the nose and other parts of the reindeer that aren’t covered with fur temporarily take on a reddish coloring.

Lingonberry WIKI

Lingonberries. Great by themselves, or as a delicious topping for lichen!

Reindeer (and their nearly-identical cousins, the Caribou), are the only deer that live all year in the far northern hemisphere, and  in fact are one of the few herbivores – animals that eat only plants – of all animals in the Arctic, so it’s not known if lingonberries would have a similar effect on other deer, or other herbivores, or even on other types of animals. But we suspect that Rudolph, with his nose-so-bright and sled-leading-tonight abilities, might just have found a secret supply of lingonberries that keeps him going all year.

Reindeer run WIKI

“I’ve eaten like thousands of lingonberries, but I still can’t get this flying part to work”


Michonne Says: Having a red nose must be really embarrassing. One time I found a burst-berry plant and I ate so many my lips turned red. But I don’t think that’s the same thing.  If the leegone-berries taste anything like blackest-berries or burst-berries or spiny-berries, I don’t care what color my nose is!

Posted December 23, 2012 by ECOVIA eco-adventure® in SciSun

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