Wintergreen is a groundcover typically growing to about five inches in height. It is an ornamental, a medicinal and a flavoring herb. The name wintergreen derives from the fact that the plant remains green throughout the winter. The glossy green foliage is aromatic, and its essential oil is used as a flavoring in teas, toothpastes, candies and gums. The active ingredient that gives the plant its flavor is called methyl salicylate. An infusion made of 1 teaspoon of leaves is used medicinally for a variety of ailments including stomach problems and arthritic pain. The plant’s shiny red berries are a favorite food of deer and other animals. They too contain good concentrations of methyl salicylate and resemble those of the holly tree, another glossy-leaved evergreen. The berries survive throughout the winter with white bell-shaped flowers forming from May through September.
Growing Information: Sow your seeds outdoors in fall or early spring. Press into the surface of soil. Wet, acidic soil is preferred. Soil can be made more acidic by adding peat. Provide full sun to partial shade for best results. By nature, germination tends to be slow and irregular.
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