On a south facing bank where the sun had melted away much of the snow, I found a rather large patch of Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens), a low, evergreen plant that spreads through slender, underground runners.
Flowers appear on Wintergreen in July and August (as early as May or as late as September, depending on climate). Once the berries set, they remain on the plant throughout the winter and spring, unless someone finds and eats them… The young leaves can also be nibbled, or tossed into a salad. It’s a lovely, fresh flavor, and I love finding it in the woods.
Also known as “Eastern Teaberry”, it is found in most states east of the Mississippi. Other common names include checkerberry, creeping wintergreen, and mountain-tea.
From the Forest Service site:
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.
By the way, back in January, I posted a photo of Wintergreen, but wasn’t sure what it was. Two readers, Dave W. and cestoady pointed me in the direction of the correct ID. So today’s post is for them! Thanks!
What did you find in the woods today?