Hardy berry

Wintergreen fruit

These guys are pretty impressive in the low maintenance department, definitely the toughest, hardiest potted plants I’ve known. They arrived out of the blue last January, about 20 of them. After a bit of coddling under the fluorescent lights along with the spring seedlings, I set them outside in front of the Milkhouse, and there they’ve sat, untended, in 4″ (10cm) plastic pots, for the last seven months. In recent weeks, they’ve been basically frozen solid in their pots for much of the time.  And here they are, leaves glossy, setting a couple of berries… Cool!

Wintergreen in 3" pots

What are they? Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens), aka teaberry, a small, creeping evergreen shrub with minty, wintergreen-tasting berries (the leaves and stems can be made into a medicinal tea, and the plant also produce wintergreen oil, used as a flavoring). They’re healthy, but they’ve only set a couple of berries amongst the remaining six plants (I gave away the rest). Hmmm… I’m comfortable with the many varieties I grow of 40 or so veggies and herbs, I’m still getting used to several varieties of a dozen types of cut flower, and I’m working on ID-ing ALL of the various grasses and weeds around here. WINTERGREEN is barely on the map… So many names, so much to know…! UPDATE: Case in point… Thanks to comments below, these guys were properly identified, I’d thought they were winterberry… I’ve corrected the post!

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6 Responses to “Hardy berry”

  1. Gaultheria procumbens, AKA teaberry, is another fun and obscure small fruit to play around with. It needs an acidic soil like blueberries – teaberry is in the Ericaceae. It’s unlikely to produce like blues do. But fun. I first tried it as I came across a wild population in the mountains of West Virginia. I then discovered that a dairy-farm-owned creamery/ice cream shop offered teaberry ice cream. The berries have a camphor zest to their almost minty sweetness.

    More here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teaberry

  2. MangoChild says:

    I’ve never heard of that berry before! Do you know how long it lasts through the cold? For some reason the more unknown berries seem to have the most unique flavors.  You are so right though, all this learning about veg, fruit, grasses, its overwhelming! But to see pictures like these, well, its inspiring to keep going.

  3. Karen says:

    John above is correct in his identification.  It also goes by the common name wintergreen.  and when a leaf is chewed it yields the characteristic wintergreen flavor of some brands of chewing gum.  The leaves can be brewed yielding a tea with that is tasty as well.  Medicinally the tea is used to treat headaches and sore throats.

  4. Mike (tfb) says:

    John, Karen: Oh, cool, thanks! I wasn’t quite sure what they were, but I was told they were winterberry, and they looked pretty close in the photos I checked out… I did taste the berries when I got the plants, they have a kind of mushy texture and a great wintergreen taste. I corrected this post, and the other mentions in the blog!

  5. Mary Jane says:

    I really never heard of that berry before as well. It’s look like amazing. I highly appreciate toughest maintenance guys to produce such unique berry. Thanks :)

  6. george t says:

    just looking at that bright red berries are cool and refreshing. Imagine how it will be to eat it. God Bless Canada and all other countries where this fruit grows.

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