- Gaultheria, for Jean Franois Gaultier (1708-1756), Canadian
physician and botanist who made botanical studies of the Quebec region
with Swedish botanist Peter Kalm (1716-1779). Kalm, an associate of
Linnaeus, named the genus Gaultheria in honor of Gaultier in
- procumbens, from the Latin, "prostrate"
- Common Name from its evergreen leaves.
- Other common names include Box Berry, Checkerberry, Deerberry, Eastern
Teaberry, Ground Holly, Mountain Tea, Creeping Wintergreen, Ground Tea,
Partridge-Berry, Petit the du bois (Quebec, "little tea of
the woods"), Redberry Wintergreen, Spice Berry, Teaberry, Winisibugons
(Ojibwe, "dirty leaf")
- Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
- Division Magnoliophyta, the Angiosperms (flowering plants)
- Class Magnoliopsida, the Dicotyledons
- Subclass Dilleniidae
- Order Ericales
- Family Ericaceae, the Heaths, with Bog Rosemary
polifolia var. glaucophylla), Bearberry
uva-ursi), Leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne
calyculata), Bog Laurel (Kalmia
polifolia), Labrador Teas (Ledum
spp.), and the blueberries, bilberries, and cranberries
- Genus Gaultheria, with Creeping Snowberry
- Taxonomic Serial Number: 23657
- Also known as Pyrola umbellata, Gaultheria repens, Brossea procumbens
- Assigned by some to Family Pyrolaceae, the Pyrolas (Shinleafs).
- A ¼, ½, ¾, º, é
- Ovary superior (within blossom) inferior (below
- A broadleaf evergreen shrublet.
- Leaves thick, toothed, glossy, lanceolate, 4 "- 8".
- Flowers white, bell-like, often with a touch of pink,
in 2 or 3 flower umbels.
- Fruit a berry, reddish violet, globose, 6-9 mm long;
minty, with a rather spongy texture.
- Seeds many, orange-yellow, wedge shaped, 1-1.3 mm
long, 0.8-1 mm wide, wingless.
- Identifiable as
- Distinguished from
- Field Marks
- Alaska to Newfoundland,
- Open shade
- Dry or moist sites in pine woods
- Sandy, acid soil (pH 5 to 6)
- Dry to wet woods and clearings; white pine woods, sandy, peaty pine/oak
scrub, sphagnum bogs, pine barrens, swamps. Dry and moist upland peat
and wet sphagnum peat.
- Trees: Balsam Fir (Abies
balsamea), Red Maple (Acer
rubrum), Paper Birch (Betula
papyrifera), White Spruce (Picea
glauca), Black Spruce (Picea
mariana), Jack Pine (Pinus
banksiana), Red Pine (Pinus
resinosa), White Pine (Pinus
strobus), Large Leaf Aspen (Populus
grandidentata), Quaking Aspen (Populus
tremuloides), Pin Cherry (Prunus
pensylvanica), Red Oak (Quercus borealis), Northern
Pin Oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis)
- Shrubs: Green Alder (Alnus
crispa), Juneberries (Amelanchier
spp), Pipsissewa (Chimaphila
umbellata), Sweet Fern (Comptonia
peregrina), Bunchberry (Cornus
canadensis), Round Leaf Dogwood (Cornus rugosa), Beaked
cornuta), Low Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla
lonicera), Trailing Arbutus (Epigea repens), Creeping
hispidula), Common Juniper (Juniperus
communis), Twinflower (Linnaea
borealis), Fly Honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis),
Late Low Blueberry (Vaccinium
angustifolium), Velvet Leaf Blueberry (Vaccinium
- Herbs: Wild Sarsaparilla (Aralia
nudicaulis), Large Leaf Aster (Aster
macrophyllus), Blue Bead Lily (Clintonia
borealis), Gold Thread (Coptis
trifolia), Moccasin Flower (Cypripedium acaule), Dwarf
Rattlesnake Plantain (Goodyera
repens), Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum
canadense), Bracken Fern (Pteridium
aquilinum), Shinleaf (Pyrola spp.), Pale Pea (Lathyrus
ochroleucus), Three Part Bedstraw (Galium
spp.), Starflower (Trientalis
borealis), Violets (Viola spp.)
- Ground Covers: Reindeer Mosses (Cladonia
spp.), Dicranum Mosses (Dicranum spp.), Clubmosses
(Lycopodium spp.), Running Club Moss, Lycopodium
clavatum), Ground Pine Clubmoss (Lycopodiumobscurum),
Schreber's Feathermoss (Pleurozium
schreberi), Hair Cap Moss (Polystrichum commune)
- Wildlife: Fruit is eaten by a variety of mammals
and birds including: chipmunks, deer, grouse, and partridge. Leaves
browsed by deer and moose.
- Used by Native Americans to brew a tea
- Mohawks, as well as Ojibwes, and others, knew the tea as medicinal
as well as a healthful beverage. It contains methyl salycliates, the
active painkilllers of asprin, useful for colds, headaches, and to bring
down fevers. Such names as "teaberry" emphasize importance as a year-round
beverage, and as a food flavoring for meat and fish cooked with fermented
- Source of "wintergreen oil," which was used as a flavoring in candies,
chewing gum, and some medicine. The berries are cooked into pies and
eaten raw during the winter by some tribes. The leaves are used as a
tea called mountain tea
- Oil of Gaultheria, or wintergreen oil, is derived via steam distillation.
It contains methyl salicylate, which is antiseptic, analgesic, carminative,
and antirheumatic. Overdoses of wintergreen oil can be toxic.
- Medicine: A tea from the leaves eased symptoms of
rheumatism. Oil of wintergreen has aspirin-like properties.
- Food: The leaves were used as a potherb or eaten
as a snack. Bright red berries ripen in autumn and improve with freezing
so harvest them in the winter or spring.
- Sexually by seed
- Assexually by
- Reproduces by seed and vegetatively by rhizomes
- Flowers July/August. Small, bell-like white flowers in early to mid-summer
- Birds and rodents eat the berries in the winter.
- Pollination by Bumblebees (Bombus spp).
Flowers most commonly visited by Bombus species (B. bimaculatus,
B. griseocollis, B. impatiens, B. perplexus,
B. ternarius, B. terricola, B. vagans) but
also visited by Apis mellifera. Autogamy is possible but usually
not very effective.
- Seed dispersal by animal consumers
- By seed, started in July in a mix of acid peat and sand in cold frame.
- By division in early spring
- Hardy to USDA Zone 3 (average minimum annual temperature -40ºF)
- Cultural Requirements
- Size 12"-18"W x 12"-18"H
- Growth rate
- Good for
- Cultivars include
- Cultivars and species available by mail order from specialty suppliers
or at local nurseries
- Partial shade and acidic soil with plenty of organic matter.
- Spreads by stolons at an approximate rate of 4"-6" annually.
Last updated on
29 August, 2004