Wintergreen is a
hardy woodland plant that bears white flowers. It grows in almost all parts of the
Northern Hemisphere and received its name because its leaves remain green all winter. The
name also applies to other plants of this type. The wintergreen is a low-growing shrub
with creeping, or subterranean, stems. Its glossy oval leaves cluster at the top of short,
erect reddish branches. Its attractive flowers are shaped like urns. They cannot be seen
easily because the plant's leaves hide them. The plant produces a bright red berry.
Wintergreen provides a pleasant-smelling, pleasant-tasting oil. Wintergreen oil serves as
a flavoring for candy, medicine, chewing gum, and tooth powder.
Scientific classification. Wintergreen is in the heath family, Ericaceae. It is Gaultheria
Contributor: James L. Luteyn, Ph.D., Curator of Botany, New York