Åkerbär is a small berry belonging to the Rubus genus including e.g. raspberries and blackberries Unlike these relatives it thrives only in the Arctic regions, depending heavily on both the long White summernights for its proper development and ripening. Being a small herb the plant is not very competitive compared to other plants. This means that the åkerbär plant depends heavily on human Culture for being able to grow in any numbers. Historically grazing animals on the Arctic pastures provided a perfect ground for the herb to grow. In addition the harsh Winters also meant that nature had to restart every spring, which was strongly benefical for the åkerbär. With climate change being a reality and modern farming at hand – and in many places even farming disappearing from the Arctic locations the åkerbär is at great threat.
Ever since the appearance of the first description of the åkerbär in the scientific literature in 1658 by Olof Rudbeck Sr. of Uppsala University in Sweden, this berry has fascinated the people, who encounter its extraordinarily flavourful and complexly aromatic taste. The Russian name – knyazhenika – means the “berry of the princes” indicating the status that this berry has had since old days in Russia. The unique qualities of the arctic bramble made it a good choice for the provincial flower of the Norrbotten county of Sweden.
The arctic bramble has limited availability, is difficult to pick, requires a great deal of cleaning effort, and is hard to store for a long time; however, it has an absolutely delicious flavour. The diminutive plant has inspired artists and craftsmen in paintings, textile art, poetry, sculpture, pottery and silversmithing.
Cultivars of the wild berry are being cultivated at some places in Finland.
The berry is used for jams, jellies, and liqueurs, as well as a flavouring agent in candies, mineral water, and vodka. Extracts have even been added to perfumes.