Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens), also known as Checkerberry and Eastern Teaberry, is an aromatic, evergreen plant in the heath family (Ericaceae) that creeps along the ground. This plant loves acid soil, and you can often find it growing alongside Blueberry (Vaccinium sp.). Its single, white flowers develop into bright red berries which Ruffed 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 Wintergreen to alleviate pain.
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