Overview

Distribution

Occurrence in North America

     AL  CT  DE  GA  IL  IN  KY  ME  MD  MA
     MI  MN  NH  NJ  NY  NC  OH  PA  RI  TN
     VT  VA  WV  WI  MB  NB  NF  NS  ON  PE
     PQ

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Wintergreen occurs from Newfoundland and New England south in the
mountains to Georgia and west to Minnesota [13,32].
  • 13.  Fernald, Merritt Lyndon. 1950. Gray's manual of botany. [Corrections        supplied by R. C. Rollins]
  • 32.  Robinette, Sadie L. 1974. Checkerberry wintergreen (Gaultheria        procembens L. In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M., compiler (also        revised). Shrubs and vinesfor northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep.        NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,        Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 20-22.  [10109]

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Physical Description

Morphology

Description

More info for the terms: capsule, shrub

Wintergreen is a spreading, evergreen, rhizomatous shrub which grows 4
to 8 inches (10-20 cm) tall [5,11,28].  Wintergreen creeps along the
ground, forming a dense carpet of shiny leaves that are 2 to 6 inches
(5-15 cm) long.  The small flowers are less than 0.5 inches (1.2 cm)
long and are borne at the base of the leaves [27].  The fruit is
berrylike capsule with a large fleshy calyx [45].  The roots are 1 inch
(2.5 cm) or less in depth [14,31].
  • 11.  Duncan, Wilbur H.; Duncan, Marion B. 1987. The Smithsonian guide to        seaside plants of the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts from Louisiana to        Massachusetts, exclusive of lower peninsular Florida. Washington, DC:        Smithsonian Institution Press. 409 p.  [12906]
  • 14.  Flinn, Marguerite A.; Pringle, Joan K. 1983. Heat tolerance of rhizomes        of several understory species. Canadian Journal of Botany. 61: 452-457.        [8444]
  • 27.  Pivorunas, David J. 1987. Gaultheria procumbens. American Nurseryman.        166(9): 218.  [22716]
  • 28.  Radford, Albert E.; Ahles, Harry E.; Bell, C. Ritchie. 1968. Manual of        the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: The University of        North Carolina Press. 1183 p.  [7606]
  • 31.  Sperka, Marie. 1973. Growing wildflowers: A gardener's guide. New York:        Harper & Row. 277 p.  [10578]
  • 45.  Chou, Y. L. 1952. Floral morphology of three species of Gaultheria.        Botanical Gazette. 114: 198-221.  [9500]
  • 5.  Braun, E. Lucy. 1961. The woody plants of Ohio. Columbus, OH: Ohio State        University Press. 362 p.  [12914]

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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat characteristics

More info for the terms: mesic, peat

As long as the soil is acidic, wintergreen grows well on many substrates
including peat, sand, sandy loam, and coal spoils.  It has been found
growing where soil pH ranged from 3.5 to 6.9 on the surface to 4.0 to
6.9 below the surface.  However, a pH of 4.5 to 6.0 has been reported as
optimum for growth, with 7.0 the maximum wintergreen tolerates.
Wintergreen mainly occurs on moist sites but tolerates moisture
conditions ranging from dry to poorly drained [2,32].

In jack pine communities in upper Michigan, wintergreen was present on
xeric, transitional, and mesic sites with frequencies of 11, 62, and 86
percent, respectively [3].  In Nova Scotia, wintergreen is found on the
tops of ridges and knolls in very shallow soil [58].
  • 2.  Archambault, Louis; Barnes, Burton V.; Witter, John A. 1989. Ecological        species groups of oak ecosystems of southeastern Michigan. Forest        Science. 35(4): 1058-1074.  [9768]
  • 3.  Beaufait, W. R.; Brown, R. T. 1962. Phytogeography of a representative        outwash plain jack pine site. Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science,        Arts & Letters. 47: 201-209.  [7239]
  • 32.  Robinette, Sadie L. 1974. Checkerberry wintergreen (Gaultheria        procembens L. In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M., compiler (also        revised). Shrubs and vinesfor northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep.        NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,        Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 20-22.  [10109]
  • 58.  Strang, R. M. 1971. The ecology of the rocky heathlands of western Nova        Scotia. In: Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers fire ecology conference;        1970 August 20-21; Fredericton, NB. No. 10. Tallahassee, FL: Tall        Timbers Research Station: 287-292.  [5466]

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Key Plant Community Associations

More info for the terms: bog, codominant, shrub

Wintergreen is commonly found in the understory of pine (Pinus spp.) and
hardwood forests of New England.  In western Nova Scotia and the Great
Lake States, it occurs in jack pine (P. banksiana) and spruce-larch
(Picea spp.-Larix spp.) forests [4,20,53,59].  It is a common understory
species in maple-oak (Acer spp.-Quercus spp.) forests of upper Michigan
[52].  It is a dominant understory shrub of oak-poplar/fern (Quercus
spp.-Populus spp./Pteridium spp.) communities of southern New York [60].

Wintergreen is named as a dominant or codominant understory species in
the following classifications:

Habitat classification system field guide:  northern Lake States Region
  (Upper Peninsula of Michigan and northeast Wisconsin) [8]
Forest-type studies in the Adirondack Region [19]
Field guide to forest habitat types of northern Wisconsin [21]
Vegetation of the Great Smoky Mountains [42]

Understory species commonly associated with wintergreen include
huckleberries (Gaylussacia spp.), blueberries (Vaccinium spp.),
raspberries (Rubus spp.), grapes (Vitis spp.), mountain-laurel (Kalmia
latifolia), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), witchhazel
(Hamamelis virginiana), bog Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum),
partridgeberry (Mitchella repens), and lily-of-the-valley (Maianthemum
canadense), [7,24,35,42].
  • 19.  Heimburger, Carl C. 1934. Forest-type studies in the Adirondack Region.        Memoir 165. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, Agricultural Experiment        Station. 122 p.  [21495]
  • 20.  Kittredge, J., Jr. 1934. Evidence of the rate of forest succession on        Star Island, Minnesota. Ecology. 15(1): 24-35.  [10102]
  • 21.  Kotar, John; Kovach, Joseph A.; Locey, Craig T. 1988. Field guide to        forest habitat types of northern Wisconsin. Madison, WI: University of        Wisconsin, Department of Forestry; Wisconsin Department of Natural        Resources. 217 p.  [11510]
  • 24.  Kurmis, Vilis; Webb, Sara L.; Merriam, Lawrence C., Jr. 1986. Plant        communities of Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota, U.S.A. Canadian        Journal of Botany. 64: 531-540.  [16088]
  • 35.  Trimble, George R., Jr.; Patric, James H.; Gill, John D.; [and others]
  • 4.  Braun, E. Lucy. 1950. Deciduous forests of eastern North America.        Philadelphia, PA: Blakiston Books. [pages unknown]
  • 42.  Whittaker, R. H. 1956. Vegetation of the Great Smoky Mountains.        Ecological Monographs. 26(1): 1-79.  [11108]
  • 52.  Crow, T. R.; Mroz, G. D.; Gale, M. R. 1991. Regrowth and nutrient        accumulations following whole-tree harvesting of a maple-oak forest.        Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 21: 1305-1315.  [16600]
  • 53.  MacLean, David A.; Wein, Ross W. 1977. Changes in understory vegetation        with increasing stand age in New Brunswick forests: species composition,        cover, biomass, and nutrients. Canadian Journal of Botany. 55:        2818-2831.  [10106]
  • 59.  Weatherbee, Pamela B.; Crow, Garrett E. 1992. Natural plant communities        of Berkshire County, Massachusetts. Rhodora. 94(878): 171-209.  [19726]
  • 60.  Wilm, H. G. 1936. The relation of successional development to the        silviculture of forest burn communities in southern New York. Ecology.        17(2): 283-291.  [3483]
  • 7.  Cain, Stanley A. 1931. Ecological studies of the vegetation of the Great        Smoky Mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee. Botanical Gazette. 91:        22-41.  [10340]
  • 8.  Coffman, Michael S.; Alyanak, Edward; Resovsky, Richard. 1980. Field        guide habitat classification system: For Upper Peninsula of Michigan and        northeast Wisconsin. [Place of publication unknown]

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Habitat: Cover Types

More info on this topic.

This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):

     1  Jack pine
    12  Black spruce
    13  Black spruce - tamarack
    14  Northern pin oak
    15  Red pine
    16  Aspen
    17  Pin cherry
    18  Paper birch
    19  Gray birch - red maple
    20  White pine - northern red oak - red maple
    21  Eastern white pine
    23  Eastern hemlock
    24  Hemlock - yellow birch
    25  Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch
    26  Sugar maple - basswood
    27  Sugar maple
    28  Black cherry - maple
    30  Red spruce - yellow birch
    32  Red spruce
    33  Red spruce - balsam fir
    37  Northern white-cedar
    38  Tamarack
    39  Black ash - American elm - red maple
    40  Post oak - blackjack oak
    42  Bur oak
    43  Bear oak
    45  Pitch pine
    46  Eastern redcedar
    53  White oak
    55  Northern red oak
    57  Yellow-poplar
    60  Beech - sugar maple
    62  Silver maple - American elm
    73  Southern redcedar
    75  Shortleaf pine
    79  Virginia pine

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Habitat: Plant Associations

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This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):

   K082  Mosaic of K074 and K100
   K093  Great Lakes spruce - fir forest
   K095  Great Lakes pine forest
   K099  Maple - basswood forest
   K100  Oak - hickory forest
   K101  Elm - ash forest
   K102  Beech - maple forest
   K103  Mixed mesophytic forest
   K104  Appalachian oak forest
   K106  Northern hardwoods
   K107  Northern hardwoods - fir forest
   K108  Northern hardwoods - spruce forest
   K110  Northeastern oak - pine forest
   K111  Oak - hickory - pine forest

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Habitat: Ecosystem

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This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):

   FRES10  White - red - jack pine
   FRES11  Spruce - fir
   FRES13  Loblolly - shortleaf pine
   FRES14  Oak - pine
   FRES15  Oak - hickory
   FRES17  Elm - ash - cottonwood
   FRES18  Maple - beech - birch
   FRES19  Aspen - birch

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Associations

Flower-Visiting Insects of Checkerberry in Illinois

Gaultheria procumbens (Checkerberry)
(this plant is also called Wintergreen; bees suck nectar; observations are from Reader)

Bees (long-tongued)
Apidae (Bombini): Bombus spp. sn, Psithyrus sp. sn

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Foodplant / mycorrhiza / endomycorrhiza
mycelium of Oidiodendron maius is endomycorrhizal with live root of Gaultheria procumbens

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General Ecology

Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire

More info for the term: prescribed fire

The following Research Project Summaries provide information on prescribed

fire use and postfire response of plant community species, including wintergreen,

that was not available when this species review was originally
written:

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Plant Response to Fire

More info for the terms: cover, density, fern, frequency, litter, prescribed fire

The response of wintergreen to fire and its role in fire related
succession seems to be highly variable.

In southwestern Nova Scotia, wintergreen survived a July fire.  The
following summer density (stems/9 sq ft) and frequency (%) on covered
and uncovered quadrats were as follows [26]:

               covered           exposed
   Density       0.3                0
   Frequency    20                  0

In southeast Manitoba, five plots were burned in April.  No prefire data
were given.  Results from the end of August showed the average frequency
of wintergreen was 54 percent and the average cover was 3.8 percent.
Different levels of shade (0-100 %) had little or no effect [46].

Percent frequency of wintergreen was monitored for 2 years after a fall
(September) prescribed fire on a jack pine clearcut in northern
Michigan.  Little change occurred, at least in the first year.  Results
are given [1]:

          Unburned blocks         Burned blocks

            % frequency           % frequency
   1980          5.6                   5.4
   1981          4.6                   0.8

Some research indicates that wintergreen is sensitive to fire.  A spring
controlled fire was conducted on bracken fern (Pteridium
aquilinum)-grassland in Wisconsin.  Sampling was done in July and August
of the year of the fire.  The average frequency of wintergreen decreased
by 25.8 percent [38].  In the Pine Barrens of northern Wisconsin,
wintergreen average frequency decreased from 28 to 14 percent 1 year
after a spring fire [39].  In the New Jersey Pine Barrens, wintergreen
became less important with increasing fire frequencies.  Fire
frequencies ranged from annual to 15-year intervals [44].  Wintergreen
in this area exploit fire-generated gaps in litter through clonal
propagation [50].

Other studies indicate that fire may favor wintergreen.  In northwest
Minnesota, a severe May fire burned only the uppermost centimeters of
the forest floor.  Wintergreen cover in unburned stands was 0 to 5
percent.  After fire it was present in several associations and
increased through the sixth year following fire to a maximum cover of
6.2 percent.  Biomass increased after fire, more in dry than moist
stands, but leveled off after the second year, perhaps because of the
low-bush growth form of wintergreen [51].
 
In a survey of the burned-over forest lands in southwestern Nova Scotia,
frequencies of wintergreen related to years since fire were as follows
[48]:

   postfire yr      % frequency
       1                10.5
       2                16.6
       9                 4.0
      22                40
      29                48.2
      40                40
  • 1.  Abrams, Marc D.; Dickmann, Donald I. 1984. Floristic composition before        and after prescribed fire on a jack pine clear-cut site in northern        lower Michigan. Canadian Journal of Forest Research. 14: 746-749.        [7236]
  • 26.  Martin, J. Lynton. 1955. Observations on the origin and early        development of a plant community following a forest fire. Forestry        Chronicle. 31: 154-161.  [11363]
  • 38.  Vogl, R. J. 1964. The effects of fire on the vegetational composition of        bracken-grassland. Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. 53:        67-82.  [9142]
  • 39.  Vogl, Richard J. 1971. Fire and the northern Wisconsin pine barrens. In:        Proceedings, annual Tall Timbers Fire ecology conference; 1970 August        20-21; New Brunsick, Canada. No. 10. Tallahassee, FL: Tall Timbers        Research Station: 175-209.  [2432]
  • 44.  Buell, Murray F.; Cantlon, John E. 1953. Effects of prescribed burning        on ground cover in the New Jersey pine region. Ecology. 34: 520-528.        [9262]
  • 46.  Hoefs, M. E. G.; Shay, Jennifer M. 1981. The effects of shade on shoot        growth of Vaccinium angustifolium Ait. after fire pruning in        southeastern Manitoba. Canadian Journal of Botany. 59: 166-174.  [4977]
  • 48.  Martin, J. Lynton. 1956. An ecological survey of burned-over forest land        in southwestern Nova Scotia. Forestry Chronicle. 32: 313-336.  [8932]
  • 50.  Matlack, G. R.; Good, R. E. 1989. Plant-scale pattern among herbs and        shrubs of a fire-dominated coastal plain forest. Vegetatio. 82: 95-103.        [9829]
  • 51.  Ohmann, Lewis F.; Grigal, David F. 1979. Early revegetation and nutrient        dynamics following the 1971 Little Sioux Forest Fire in northeastern        Minnesota. Forest Science Monograph 21. Bethesda, MD: The Society of        American Foresters. 80 p.  [6992]

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Immediate Effect of Fire

Fire top-kills wintergreen [15].  Surviving rhizomes may sprout
[16,30,33,54].
 
  • 15.  Flinn, Marguerite A.; Wein, Ross W. 1977. Depth of underground plant        organs and theoretical survival during fire. Canadian Journal of Botany.        55: 2550-2554.  [6362]
  • 16.  Flinn, Marguerite Adele. 1980. Heat penetration and early postfire        regeneration of some understory species in the Acadian forest. Halifax,        NB: University of New Brunswick. 87 p. Thesis.  [9876]
  • 30.  Sidhu, S. S. 1973. Early effects of burning and logging in        pine-mixedwoods. II. Recovery in numbers of species and ground cover of        minor vegetation. Inf. Rep. PS-X-47. Chalk River, ON: Canadian Forestry        Service, Petawawa Forest Experiment Station. 23 p.  [8227]
  • 33.  Ross, S. Rachel. 1978. The effects of prescribed burning on ground cover        vegetation of white pine and mixed hardwood forests in southeastern New        Hampshire. Durham, NH: University of New Hamshire. 151 p. Thesis.        [20674]
  • 54.  Matlack, G. R.; Gibson, D. J.; Good, R. E. 1993. Clonal propagation,        local disturbance, and the structure of vegetation: Ericaceous shrubs in        the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Biological Conservation. 63: 1-8.        [20098]

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Post-fire Regeneration

More info for the terms: rhizome, secondary colonizer

   Rhizomatous low woody plant, rhizome in organic mantle
   Secondary colonizer - off-site seed

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Fire Ecology

More info for the term: litter

Wintergreen is not well-adapted to fire that removes litter and/or the
organic layer of soil.  Rhizomes are restricted to the upper 0.8 to 1.2
inches (2-3 cm) of the organic layer, and wintergreen usually does not
survive if the organic layer is removed by fire [15].  The rhizomes are
especially vulnerable to severe fire [54].  If wintergreen survives, the
fire was probably of short duration or light enough that the fire
removed only aboveground vegetation and little litter [14].

Wintergreen rhizomes can tolerate brief exposure to high temperatures.
In one study its rhizomes were collected in spring, summer, and fall and
subjected to wet heat.  Maximum shoot growth and number of stems
occurred after spring-collected rhizomes were placed in a water bath at
131 degrees Fahrenheit (55 deg C) for 5 minutes.  Rhizomes died when
subjected to a 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 deg C) bath for 5 minutes
[14].
  • 14.  Flinn, Marguerite A.; Pringle, Joan K. 1983. Heat tolerance of rhizomes        of several understory species. Canadian Journal of Botany. 61: 452-457.        [8444]
  • 15.  Flinn, Marguerite A.; Wein, Ross W. 1977. Depth of underground plant        organs and theoretical survival during fire. Canadian Journal of Botany.        55: 2550-2554.  [6362]
  • 54.  Matlack, G. R.; Gibson, D. J.; Good, R. E. 1993. Clonal propagation,        local disturbance, and the structure of vegetation: Ericaceous shrubs in        the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. Biological Conservation. 63: 1-8.        [20098]

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Successional Status

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: bog, climax, cover, frequency, succession

Facultative Seral Species

Wintergreen is shade tolerant.  Fruiting, however, usually occurs in
openings [23,32,50].  It is a common understory species in the
Northeast [9].  In a Minnesota Norway pine (P. resinosa) forest,
wintergreen had greatest abundance of cover under intermediate light
intensities [56].

Wintergreen is found in the oldest vegetation in Grass River Bog, an
undrained sand plain in the Adirondacks [43].

Wintergreen is part of the understory vegetation in climax pine forests
of northern Minnesota [57].

In eastern hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) climax forest in northeastern
Pennsylvania, wintergreen frequency ranged from 0 to 6 percent [47].
 
In the Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, wintergreen was present in
early and climax stages of forest succession [49].  Frequency in the
birch-poplar (Betula spp.-Populus spp.) stage was 58 percent; it was
"abundant" in the pine stage.  Frequency was 36 percent in the
fir-spruce (Abies spp.-Picea spp.) stage.  Wintergreen was not present
in the sugar maple (Acer saccharum) stage, but frequency was 14 percent
in eastern hemlock climax forest [49].
  • 23.  Kudish, Michael. 1992. Adirondack upland flora: an ecological        perspective. Saranac, NY: The Chauncy Press. 320 p.  [19376]
  • 32.  Robinette, Sadie L. 1974. Checkerberry wintergreen (Gaultheria        procembens L. In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M., compiler (also        revised). Shrubs and vinesfor northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep.        NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,        Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 20-22.  [10109]
  • 43.  Bray, William L. 1920. The history of forest development on an undrained        sand plain in the Adirondacks. Syracuse, NY: New York State College of        Forestry. 47 p.  [21340]
  • 47.  Hough, A. F. 1936. A climax forest community on East Tionesta Creek in        northwestern Pennsylvania. Ecology. 17(1): 9-28.  [3460]
  • 49.  Martin, N. D. 1959. An anaylsis of forest succession in Algonquin Park,        Ontario. Ecological Monographs. 29(3): 187-218.  [19930]
  • 50.  Matlack, G. R.; Good, R. E. 1989. Plant-scale pattern among herbs and        shrubs of a fire-dominated coastal plain forest. Vegetatio. 82: 95-103.        [9829]
  • 56.  Shirley, Hardy L. 1932. Light intensity in relation to plant growth in a        virgin Norway pine forest. Journal of Agricultural Research. 44:        227-244.  [10360]
  • 57.  Stallard, Harvey. 1929. Secondary succession in the climax forest        formations of northern Minnesota. Ecology. 10(4): 476-547.  [3808]
  • 9.  Collins, Scott L.; Good, Ralph E. 1986. Canopy-ground layer        relationships of oak-pine forests in the New Jersey Pine Barrens.        American Midland Naturalist. 117(2): 280-288.  [8636]

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Regeneration Processes

More info for the term: litter

Reproduction in wintergreen is both sexual and asexual.  It typically
reproduces vegetatively from rhizomes.  Vegetative growth is initiated
as additional branching on old stems, or as new stems on creeping
rhizomes [55].  The long, infrequently branching rhizomes distribute
ramets over large areas; it exploits gaps in litter for clonal
propagation [23,50].  Bird-disseminated seeds are probably the source of
new plants colonizing old fields [32,41].

In the oak-pine upland forest of the Pine Barrens of New Jersey,
wintergreen occurrence was positively correlated (p less than 0.05) with the
presence of litter and dead wood [50].
  • 23.  Kudish, Michael. 1992. Adirondack upland flora: an ecological        perspective. Saranac, NY: The Chauncy Press. 320 p.  [19376]
  • 32.  Robinette, Sadie L. 1974. Checkerberry wintergreen (Gaultheria        procembens L. In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M., compiler (also        revised). Shrubs and vinesfor northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep.        NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,        Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 20-22.  [10109]
  • 41.  White, Douglas W.; Stiles, Edmund W. 1992. Bird dispersal of fruits of        species introduced into eastern North America. Canadian Journal of        Botany. 70: 1689-1696.  [19713]
  • 50.  Matlack, G. R.; Good, R. E. 1989. Plant-scale pattern among herbs and        shrubs of a fire-dominated coastal plain forest. Vegetatio. 82: 95-103.        [9829]
  • 55.  Mirick, Sally; Quinn, James A. 1981. Some observations on the        reproductive biology of Gaultheria procumbens (Ericaceae). American        Journal of Botany. 68(10): 1298-1305.  [10113]

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Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)

More info on this topic.

More info for the terms: geophyte, hemicryptophyte

   Hemicryptophyte
   Geophyte

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Life Form

More info for the term: shrub

Shrub

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Life History and Behavior

Cyclicity

Phenology

More info on this topic.

Wintergreen flowers from the end of May to September depending on
geographic location [10,37].  In Illinois, wintergreen flowers initiated
during June open in mid-July, with the fruit maturing in September [45].
In New Jersey and Penn Sylvia, the flowering period is from mid-July
through early August [55].  The leaves usually persist throughout the
winter [27,32].  The fruit may remain attached till the following spring
[45].
  • 10.  Dimock, Edward J., II; Johnston, William F.; Stein, William I. 1974.        Gaultheria L.  wintergreen. In: Schopmeyer, C. S., ed. Seeds of woody        plants in the United States. Agriculture Handbook No. 450. Washington,        DC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service: 422-426.  [7671]
  • 27.  Pivorunas, David J. 1987. Gaultheria procumbens. American Nurseryman.        166(9): 218.  [22716]
  • 32.  Robinette, Sadie L. 1974. Checkerberry wintergreen (Gaultheria        procembens L. In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M., compiler (also        revised). Shrubs and vinesfor northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep.        NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,        Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 20-22.  [10109]
  • 37.  Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States,        their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S.        Department of Agriculture. 362 p.  [4240]
  • 45.  Chou, Y. L. 1952. Floral morphology of three species of Gaultheria.        Botanical Gazette. 114: 198-221.  [9500]
  • 55.  Mirick, Sally; Quinn, James A. 1981. Some observations on the        reproductive biology of Gaultheria procumbens (Ericaceae). American        Journal of Botany. 68(10): 1298-1305.  [10113]

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Gaultheria procumbens

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Gaultheria procumbens

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 3
Specimens with Barcodes: 9
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: G5 - Secure

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Management

Management considerations

More info for the term: shrubs

Wintergreen is ordinarily plentiful in the woodlands of the Northeast,
and no special care is needed to perpetuate it.  Seedlings or clones are
established by plantings beneath taller shrubs or in other partially
shaded sites.  When plants have established, fruit production is
stimulated by thinning timber stands and removing overtopping vegetation
[32].

Wintergreen can be controlled by phenoxy herbicides [32].
  • 32.  Robinette, Sadie L. 1974. Checkerberry wintergreen (Gaultheria        procembens L. In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M., compiler (also        revised). Shrubs and vinesfor northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep.        NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,        Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 20-22.  [10109]

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Economic Uses

Uses: MEDICINE/DRUG

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Importance to Livestock and Wildlife

Wintergreen is not taken in large quantities by any species of wildlife,
but the regularity of its use enhances its importance.  Its fruit
persists through the winter and it is one of the few sources of green
leaves in winter [32].  White-tailed deer browse wintergreen throughout
its range, and in some localities it is an important winter food.  Other
animals that eat wintergreen are wild turkey, sharp-tailed grouse,
northern bobwhite, ring-necked pheasant, black bear, white-footed mouse,
and red fox.  Wintergreen is a favorite food of the eastern chipmunk, and
the leaves are a minor winter food of the gray squirrel in Virginia
[26,37].
  • 26.  Martin, J. Lynton. 1955. Observations on the origin and early        development of a plant community following a forest fire. Forestry        Chronicle. 31: 154-161.  [11363]
  • 32.  Robinette, Sadie L. 1974. Checkerberry wintergreen (Gaultheria        procembens L. In: Gill, John D.; Healy, William M., compiler (also        revised). Shrubs and vinesfor northeastern wildlife. Gen. Tech. Rep.        NE-9. Upper Darby, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,        Northeastern Forest Experiment Station: 20-22.  [10109]
  • 37.  Van Dersal, William R. 1938. Native woody plants of the United States,        their erosion-control and wildlife values. Washington, DC: U.S.        Department of Agriculture. 362 p.  [4240]

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Other uses and values

The leaves of wintergreen are used to make oil of wintergreen [27]
  • 27.  Pivorunas, David J. 1987. Gaultheria procumbens. American Nurseryman.        166(9): 218.  [22716]

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Wikipedia

Gaultheria procumbens

"Mountain tea" redirects here. For herbal infusions, see herbal tea.

Gaultheria procumbens (eastern teaberry, checkerberry, boxberry, or American wintergreen) is a species of Gaultheria native to northeastern North America from Newfoundland west to southeastern Manitoba, and south to Alabama.[1] It is a member of the Ericaceae (heath family).[2]

Growth habit[edit]

G. procumbens fruit

It is a small low-growing shrub, typically reaching 10–15 centimeters (3.9–5.9 in) tall. The leaves are evergreen, elliptic to ovate, 2–5 cm long and 1–2 cm broad, with a distinct oil of wintergreen scent. The flowers are bell-shaped, 5 mm long, white, borne solitary or in short racemes. The berry-like fruit is actually a dry capsule surrounded by fleshy calyx,[3] 6–9 mm diameter.

It is a calcifuge, favoring acidic soil, in pine or hardwood forests, although it generally produces fruit only in sunnier areas.[4] It often grows as part of the heath complex in an oak-heath forest. [5][6]

G. procumbens spreads by means of long rhizomes, which are within the top 20–30 mm of soil. Because of the shallow nature of the rhizomes, it does not survive most forest fires, but a brief or mild fire may leave rhizomes intact, from which the plant can regrow even if the above-ground shrub was consumed.[4]

This plant has gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.[7]

Edibility[edit]

19th century illustration

The fruits of G. procumbens, considered its actual "teaberries," are edible, with a minty flavor,[8] and the leaves and branches make a fine herbal tea, through normal drying and infusion process. For the leaves to yield significant amounts of their essential oil, they need to be fermented for at least 3 days.[9]

Teaberry is also an ice cream flavor in regions where the plant grows. It also inspired the name of Clark's Teaberry chewing gum.

Wildlife value[edit]

Wintergreen is not taken in large quantities by any species of wildlife, but the regularity of its use enhances its importance. Its fruit persist through the winter and it is one of the few sources of green leaves in winter. White-tailed deer browse wintergreen throughout its range, and in some localities it is an important winter food. Other animals that eat wintergreen are wild turkey, sharp-tailed grouse, northern bobwhite, ring-necked pheasant, black bear, white-footed mouse, and red fox. Wintergreen is a favorite food of the eastern chipmunk, and the leaves are a minor winter food of the gray squirrel in Virginia.[10]

Common names[edit]

Other common names include: American mountain tea, boxberry, Canada tea, canterberry, checkerberry, chickenberry, chinks, creeping wintergreen, deerberry, drunkards, gingerberry, ground berry, ground tea, grouseberry, hillberry, mountain tea, one-berry, partridge berry, procalm, red pollom, spice berry, squaw vine, star berry, spiceberry, spicy wintergreen, spring wintergreen, teaberry, wax cluster, youngsters, [11][7]

While this plant is also known as partridge berry,[12] that name more often refers to the ground cover Mitchella repens.

Traditional use[edit]

The plant has been used by various tribes of Native Americans for medicinal purposes.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Germplasm Resources Information Network: Gaultheria procumbens
  2. ^ Dwelley, Marilyn J. (1977). Summer & Fall Wildflowers of New England. Down East Enterprise, Inc. p. 60. ISBN 0-89272-020-4. Retrieved 2008-08-10. 
  3. ^ Yü-Liang Chou 1952. Floral morphology of three species of Gaultheria: Contributions from the Hull Botanical Laboratory. Botanical Gazette 114:198–221 First page free
  4. ^ a b Gaultheria procumbens, Fire Effects Information System
  5. ^ The Natural Communities of Virginia Classification of Ecological Community Groups (Version 2.3), Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation, 2010
  6. ^ Schafale, M. P. and A. S. Weakley. 1990. Classification of the natural communities of North Carolina: third approximation. North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation.
  7. ^ a b http://apps.rhs.org.uk/plantselector/plant?plantid=842
  8. ^ Borealforest: Gaultheria procumbens
  9. ^ Gibbons, Euell. "Stalking the Healthful Herbs." New York: David McKay Company. 1966. pg. 92.
  10. ^ This section incorporates text from Gaultheria procumbens, Fire Effects Information System, a public domain work of the US government.
  11. ^ Lust, John (1974). The Herb Book. Bantam Books. p. 404. ISBN 0-553-26770-1. Retrieved 2008-08-10. 
  12. ^ Hall, Joan Houston (2002). Dictionary of American Regional English. Harvard University Press. p. 47. ISBN 0-674-00884-7. Retrieved 2007-11-16. 
  13. ^ http://books.google.com/books?id=h3Xcj5lw4rIC&pg=PA79&lpg=PA79&dq=%22Gaultheria+procumbens%22+%22native+american%22&source=bl&ots=4Zh29vnBcA&sig=sYuJaeJNg5mUBiTd7MIPmHj83o4&hl=en&sa=X&ei=25jnUMaXJvKN0QGVtoGgDg&ved=0CF8Q6AEwBjgK#v=onepage&q=%22Gaultheria%20procumbens%22%20%22native%20american%22&f=false
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Names and Taxonomy

Taxonomy

Common Names

wintergreen
teaberry

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The currently accepted scientific name for wintergreen is Gaultheria
procumbens L. (Ericaceae) [18]. There are no recognized subspecies,
varieties, or forms.
  • 18.  Gleason, Henry A.; Cronquist, Arthur. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of        northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. 2nd ed. New York: New        York Botanical Garden. 910 p.  [20329]

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