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Gaultheria procumbens L.

Figure 121.—Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
Other common names.—Gaultheria, spring wintergreen, creeping wintergreen, aromatic wintergreen, spicy wintergreen, checkerberry, teaberry, partridgeberry, grouseberry, spiceberry, chickenberry, deerberry, groundberry, hillberry, ivyberry, boxberry, redberry tea, Canadian tea, mountain tea, ivory plum, chinks, drunkards red pollom, rapper dandies, wax cluster.

Habitat and range.—This small native plant frequents sandy soils in cool, damp woods, especially under evergreen trees in Canada and the northeastern United States.

Description.—Wintergreen is an aromatic, evergreen plant with an underground or creeping stem producing erect branches not more than 6 inches in height, the lower part of which is smooth and naked, while near the ends are borne the crowded, leathery, evergreen leaves. From June to September the solitary, white, waxy, somewhat urn-shaped flowers are borne at the axils of the leaves. These are followed by roundish, somewhat flattened berries, which after they ripen in autumn, are bright red, mea]y, and spicy, and remain on the plant sometimes until spring. All parts of the plant are aromatic.

Part used.—The herb or leaves, collected in the autumn. The plant when distilled with steam yields oil of wintergreen. The distillation of this oil is an established industry in some localities where the plant grows in sufficient abundance.*

*Information on the extraction of volatile oils from plants is contained in the following publication: Sievers, A.F. Methods of extracting volatile oils from plant material and the production of such oils in the United States. U.S. Dept. Agr. Tech. Bul. 16, 36 p. illus. 1928.

Sievers, A.F. 1930. The Herb Hunters Guide. Misc. Publ. No. 77. USDA, Washington DC.
Last update Friday, April 3, 1998 by aw