Wintergreen is a low-growing creeping plant that spreads via underground vines. Leaves are dark green and shiny and remain evergreen in winter, but can sometimes turn red or burgundy as the weather turns colder.
Tiny white bell-shaped flowers that dangle beneath the leaf axils (the joints where leaves grow from the stems) appear in late spring to early summer. The berries follow in early fall as light green, then mature to a brilliant red.
– Partial sun to partial shade
– Grows 6″ H x 24″ W
– Flowers in late July
– Berries in late August to early September
– Zones 3-9
The ripe red berries persist throughout winter and are edible with a pleasant wintergreen flavour, said to be more flavourful in the spring than fall.
In the past, the leaves were used to make tea, or wintergreen oil was extracted form the foliage for flavourings of candy or medicine. Some sources have noted that large doses of wintergreen oil can be toxic.
Wild Adirondacks, Wildflowers of the Adirondacks: Wintergreen, April 26, 2023: https://wildadirondacks.org/adirondack-wildflowers-wintergreen-gaultheria-procumbens.html