Northern Ontario Plant Database
Gaultheria procumbens L.
En: wintergreen, eastern teaberry, checkerberry, creeping wintergreen
Ericaceae (Blueberry Family)
General: A low evergreen shrub, growing from a slender creeping rhizome. The flowering branches erect, to 15 cm tall, and bearing leaves towards the apex. The leaves of G. procumbens are quite fragrant, especially if broken, smelling strongly of wintergreen. The specific epithet "procumbens" means "lying on the ground" and refers to the creeping nature of the plant.
Leaves: Alternate, simple, evergreen, coriaceous, glabrous, short-petioled; leaf blade elliptic to obovate, to 5 cm long, paler beneath; leaf bases narrowing (cuneate) to rounded, apices blunt (obtuse) to pointed (acute), leaf margins slightly revolute and finely serrate, with bristle tipped teeth.
Flowers: Pendant, usually solitary in the leaf axils; calyx white, with 5 short, triangular lobes; corolla white, sympetalous, urn-shaped (urceolate), to 1 cm long, shallowly 5–lobed; stamens 10, anthers release pollen through apical pores; ovary superior, style hollow. Flowering July to August.
Fruits: A globose, bright red, berry-like fruit, to 1 cm wide, with the actual fruit (a capsule) enclosed within the fleshy red calyx, the lobes of which are still visible at the tip of the mature fruit; edible, but mealy in texture, strongly wintergreen-flavoured. Usually ripens in September.
Habitat and Range: Conifer or mixedwood forests. Native to eastern North American and widespread in Ontario, extending north to about 50� N latitude (Soper & Heimburger 1982).
Internet Images: The Gaultheria procumbens webpage from Walter Muma's Wildflowers of Ontario website.
The Gaultheria procumbens webpage from Michael Hough's Flora of the Northeastern United States website.
- written by Derek Goertz
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