Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)

Since I mentioned wintergreen in my last post, I thought I would give it a little more space on the blog today.

Wintergreen (otherwise known as Eastern teaberry) is native to Eastern woodlands from Canada to the mountains of Georgia and Alabama. It is an evergreen ground cover, which produces white bell-shaped flowers in early summer, and stunning red berries in the early winter.

Both the leaves and the berries have oil of wintergreen, which I mentioned before was used to flavor gum and toothpaste. The berries are edible, but are a bit mealy, so probably aren’t desirable to anybody who isn’t terribly hungry. They are however, tasty to squirrels, deer, pheasant and grouse and make a welcome meal in the winter when food is scarce.

Wintergreen can grow in deep shade, making it a useful ground cover in difficult areas. It prefers rich, acidic soil. It can grow in full sun if it is kept moist. It can grow a foot tall, but I’ve never seen it more than about 4″ tall.

I like to use it to give a woodland feel to a planting. And of course it is a stunning way to add a splash of color to a winter planter.