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Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens), also known as Checkerberry and Eastern Teaberry, is an aromatic, evergreen plant that creeps along the ground. Its single, white flowers develop into bright red berries which deer and grouse consume with relish. Not surprisingly, these berries taste like oil of wintergreen. The active ingredient in this oil is synthesized and used as a flavoring in chewing gum, toothpaste, breath fresheners, candy, and medicines, including Pepto Bismol. This same ingredient, methyl salicate, is related to aspirin, which explains why Native Americans chewed and made a tea from the leaves and berries of winterberry to alleviate pain.

One response

  1. Etienne

    Oh how I adore the scent of wintergreen! As a child we (sibling/friends) would nibble the berries as we explored the woods behind our home in western MA. The scent brings me back to that time – a time when we felt peaceful and so very content. Today I share these lovely wooded wanderings with my 4 yr. old and we often nibble the branches of our beloved Black Birch – oh heaven! These treats are far superior than anything store bought and just make us so much closer to our beautiful earth. Thanks for the memory trigger! 🙂

    December 6, 2011 at 2:13 pm

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