Gaultheria procumbens, commonly called wintergreen, is a rhizomatous, creeping, woody, evergreen groundcover of the heath family that is native to woodlands in Eastern North America. The foliage, when pinched has a strong wintergreen fragrance like Spearmint gum, causing big smiles and wide eyes. Oblong, shiny dark-green leaves contrasting with the red berries in winter make this plant just right for the holidays. In the garden, the plants will spread over time to form an attractive ground cover. In early summer, the waxy, nodding, bell-shaped flowers appear and then give way to edible bright red berries (3/8" diameter) that persist through winter. The berries are an excellent winter food for some wildlife such as pheasant, grouse and squirrels. The leaves can be dried and used for making tea. Fruits may be eaten raw or added to pastries and salads.
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