Harvesting Berries In Norway: All You Need To Know

The Norwegian summer and autumn is filled with lots of delicious berries that anyone can freely pick and eat as they please. It’s pretty common for Norwegians to go on a berry hike (bærtur) with the intention of filling up big buckets of berries with delicious, edible berries of different sorts.

So, let’s take a look at everything you need to know about harvesting berries in Norway!

You can freely pick as many berries you want anywhere in the wild in Norway, with the exception of cloudberries in the northernmost regions of Norway. Other than that, feel free to harvest as many berries as you can carry, but make sure you only eat the safe ones.

Most Norwegians are well-aware of which berries you can pick and eat, and which to stay away from, but this is usually not that clear to tourists. Luckily we got you covered, so keep reading for a short introduction to the most common berries you will find in Norway, and which to pick.

PS. the final part of the article will be about the laws for foraging wild berries in Norway, so make sure to check that out to make sure you stay on the right side of the law with your berry-picking.

Berry bowl
A bowl with different berries. Photo published with permission.

The most common edible berries in Norway

Below is a short introduction to the most common edible wild berries we have here in Norway. These will cover most of the berries you come across on your visit to Norway, but as always when eating things in the wild, make sure you don’t mix them up with another species.

There are not really any berries that are considered dangerous and can be easily confused by the good ones on the list, so you don’t need to worry much. However, there are some poisonous plants and berries in Norway, so don’t run around and eat anything without looking close at it.

Bilberry (blåbær)

Bilberries are the pride and joy of the Norwegian forest during the autumn, and you will find that the entire forest floor can be covered with bilberry bushes that are bulging with ripe bilberries. You can usually pick as much as you like, because you won’t ever be able to pick the forest clean from bilberries, so just enjoy yourself and pick as much as you like.

You will occasionally see people with several 10 liter buckets fill them up with bilberries in the autumn, either to freeze or to make bilberry jam from.

Bilberries are often referred to as blueberries, which has to do with the fact that the Norwegian word blåbær literary translates to blue berry. Cultivated blueberries are a bit different from bilberries, but most Norwegians are adamant that bilberries have a much better taste than cultivated blueberries.

You can use the bilberries to eat or make jam. It’s very rich in nutrients, and tastes sweet. It’s the perfect snack when on a hike, and goes well with a lot of cakes and other sweets.

When to pick bilberries: July and August, and during most of September.

Where to pick bilberries: Anywhere in the forest. Bilberries are found all over Norway from the lowlands to the mountains. Look for spruce and pine forests to find bilberry shrubs. You are likely to see bilberries all over if you are in the forest.

Bilberries. Photo by B.navez / CC BY-SA 2.5.

Lingonberry (tyttebær)

Lingonberries are a type of acidic berry that are best suited for making jam (with lots of added sugar), because they are too sour to eat by themselves.

I don’t really think ligonberries are that popular for tourists to pick, but they are important to the Norwegian people since lingonberry jam is part of the traditional Norwegian Christmas food. So you will see some people go out to pick bilberries in the autumn to make jam that is stored until Christmas Eve.

When to pick lingonberries: Late autumn from September to October.

Where to pick lingonberries: Lingonberries are found all over Norway, and you can typically find it in places where other plants won’t be able to grow due to lack of nutrients in the soil.

Lingonberries. Photo by Philip Gabrielsen / CC BY-SA 4.0.

Cloudberry (multer)

Cloudberries are usually the most sought-after berry in Norway, and is known for its creamy and sweet taste. You can use the cloudberry to make jam or as a dessert, and the berry is very expensive to buy at the grocery store.

However, it’s not very easy to harvest cloudberries, and they are typically found up in the mountains. Each plant only produces a single cloudberry each year, and many plants don’t even produce every year.

It can be difficult to find cloudberries in the mountain, and people are usually very secretive about where they find their cloudberries. But if you come across some, feel free to harvest them and have a taste of their amazing creaminess.

You can harvest the cloudberries when they are orange or yellow. Don’t pick the red ones, because they are not ripe yet, and will not taste good. It used to be illegal to harvest red cloudberries (!), but this has since been changes. You should still not pick the unripe ones though.

Special rules for picking cloudberries in Nordland and in Troms og Finnmark:

Keep in mind that you can harvest cloudberries in all of Norway freely, with the exception of in Nordland and in Troms og Finnmark. The person who owns the ground has the option to forbid you from harvesting it in these regions, but only if they have put of signs to forbid it. Also be aware that you can pick them and eat them right there and then if you want, but you will not be allowed to harvest them and bring them home if there’s a sign (and you are in one of these counties).

When to pick cloudberries: August to September.

Where to pick cloudberries: In the mountains. Look for swampy areas with mossy cover.

Cloudberry. Photo published with permission.

Raspberry (bringebær)

There are lots of wild raspberries in Norway, and these are typically a bit smaller than commercial raspberries, but just as good when it comes to the taste. The raspberries grow on brambles, so you can often find lots of raspberries at the same place if you come across a field of bushes, and you might even be able to pick several liters of raspberries from a single area.

Raspberry bushes seem to thrive in deforested areas with a lot of sun, and you can often find them next to smaller roads where the vegetation has been cleared next to the road.

Wild raspberries
Wild raspberries grow all over Norway. Photo by Nicklas Iversen / thenorwayguide.com.

When to pick raspberries: July and August.

Where to pick raspberries: Wild raspberries are found in the lowlands, and if you find a bush, chances are you will find plenty of them close by. The brambles thrive in nutrient rich soil, and I often find them in areas that have been logged a few years back.

Raspberries. Photo by Per / CC BY 2.0.

Wild strawberry (markjordbær)

Norway has a lot of wild strawberries that you can pick. These are very small (nothing like the big commercial strawberries), but have a very sweet taste.

Wild strawberries are usually harvested by children who wants to eat something sweet, since you will need to pick about 1.400 berries to get 1 liter of jam. Practically no one harvests these for long-term storage since they are small and often scattered. But feel free to pick some and eat if you come across a few plants!

When to pick wild strawberries: June and July.

Where to pick wild strawberries: Wild strawberries are found in the lowlands, but they are often scattered and not found in large quantities at the same place. You can often find them along roads, trails and close to buildings, and don’t need to go to the forest.

Wild strawberries
Wild strawberries. Photo published with permission.

Crowberry (krekling)

Crowberries are a pretty weird little berry that is definitely an acquired taste. These grow far up in the mountains, and will often cover the entire ground for miles and miles during the autumn.

The berry itself is very acidic and sour, so most people don’t eat them, but they can be good for using in drinks.

The good thing about crowberries is that they are usually found in huge quantities, and tend to dominate the mountain in the autumn. So it’s very easy to get as much crowberries as you want, even if you want several liters.

The berries themselves are pretty small, but they are easy and fast to harvest from the plant. Keep in mind that the plant they grow from only grow 5 – 10 cm up fro the ground, so look down to the ground to find them.

When to pick crowberries: August to September.

Where to pick crowberries: Up in the mountains above the tree line.

Crowberries. Photo by H. Zell / CC BY-SA 3.0.

Cranberry (tranebær)

Cranberries are not actually that popular to forage here in Norway, but some people love collecting cranberries to make jam for autumn meals. The cranberries in Norway are found in acidic bogs, so you might need to search a while before you find a suitable place for them to grow, but once you find a good spot, you can return to it every year to fill up your bucket.

It’s recommended to pick cranberries after the first frost night (where the temperature has gone below zero) to make it easy to pick them.

When to pick cranberries: September to December.

Where to pick cranberries: In acidic bogs and swamps, often a bit up in the mountains.

Cranberries in a bog. Photo by Christian Fischer / CC BY-SA 3.0.

Blackberry (bjørnebær)

The blackberry is actually not a single berry species, but rather a group of many. There are at least 20 different species of blackberry in Norway, and they are all edible. You only find blackberries in the southern part of Norway, so a good place to look is in Agder county.

The berry itself will look a lot like a compact raspberry, and will either be black, red or a deep red. Make sure to be careful if you are going to pick blackberries, because the brambles to have thorns on them.

When to pick crowberries: August and September.

Where to pick crowberries: South of Norway, in very sunny areas.

Blackberries. Photo by Ivar Leidus / CC BY-SA 4.0.

Bog bilberry (blokkebær)

Bog bilberry is a type of bilberry that is actually pretty common in Norway, but it’s far from as popular as most of the other berries on this list.

There are very few people that actually harvest bog bilberries. They are a bit acidic and bitter, and most people count them as the “bad cousin” to regular bilberries. However, there are some people that enjoy harvesting these, so it’s worth having them on this list, at least to let you guys know what they are.

Despite the name bog bilberries, they can be found in the forest as well. You might find that they grow right next to the regular bilberries, and that it often can be a bit tricky to tell them apart from each other. However, look at the stem. The bog bilberries will have a brown stem, while regular bilberries will have a (partly) green stem.

Another way to tell them apart is to open a berry. Bog bilberries are white on the inside like a blueberry, while a real bilberry will have a deep blue or even purple inside.

When to pick big bilberries: July and August.

Where to pick bog bilberries: Anywhere in the forest, preferably in pine and spruce forest.

Bog bilberries
Bog bilberries. Photo published with permission.

Laws and regulations to follow when you are picking wild berries in Norway

You will find that there are berries all around you when you visit Norway in late summer or autumn, and the good news is that you can generally pick as much as you like for free. Feel free to taste and harvest any berry you find in the wild, and even bring a bucket with you to fill up and bring home with you if you want to.

This is legal because of a law called “Friluftsloven §5” that gives anyone access to harvest berries, mushrooms, flowers, plants and nuts as they want. This is part of the Norwegian freedom to roam principle, which gives everyone lots of rights when it comes to the nature.

The requirement is that it is in the wild (utmark in Norwegian, meaning that you should be at least 200 meters away from housing or buildings), and that you do not over-harvest.

Read more: What exactly is and isn’t utmark?

Keep in mind that this law has an exempt with the cloudberries in a few selected regions, as mentioned in the section above about cloudberries.

Nature reserves can also be exempt from the right to harvest law, so keep that in mind when you visit any nature reserve. If this is the case, it will be clearly indicated on signs when you enter the reserve. This is not very common, but it does happen in some places.

You are not allowed to pick berries from someone else’s used property, so don’t go into their yard to pick their strawberries or raspberries. If there’s buildings or any sign of activity that this is a used place (innmark), then stay away.

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