Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: wintergreen from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Any of a group of plants belonging to the heath family, especially the species G. procumbens of northeastern North America, which creeps underground and sends up tiny shoots. Oil of wintergreen, used in treating rheumatism, is extracted from its leaves. Wintergreen is also the name for various plants belonging to the wintergreen family Pyrolaceae, including the green pipsissewa C. maculata of northern North America, Europe, and Asia. (Genus Gaultheria, family Ericaceae; also genera Pyrola, Chimaphila, Orthilia, and Moneses, family Pyrolaceae.)

The common wintergreen (P. minor), with rounded white flowers, is a woodland plant.

Summary Article: wintergreen
from The Columbia Encyclopedia

or checkerberry, low evergreen plant (Gaultheria procumbens) of the family Ericaceae (heath family), native to sandy and acid woods (usually of evergreens) of E North America and frequently cultivated. It has a creeping stem, erect branches, glossy, oval leaves, and small, waxy, white flowers followed by crimson fruits. The aromatic leaves and fruits are edible; the leaves are a source of wintergreen oil (now mostly obtained from the sweet, or black, birch, Betula lenta, or synthetically). The oil is used in medicine and as a flavoring. A tea has often been made from the leaves, whence two of the many names of the plant, mountain tea and teaberry. There are other species of Gaultheria found in W America and elsewhere; one of these, G. shallon, is called salal or shallon. Some pipsissewa species, of the family Pyrolaceae, are sometimes called wintergreen. True wintergreen is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Ericales, family Ericaceae.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, © Columbia University Press 2018

Related Articles

Full text Article WINTERGREEN
Cambridge World History of Food

A native of eastern North America, wintergreen ( Gaultheria procumbens ) has aromatic leaves and spicy, edible, red berries. Oil of wintergreen...

Full text Article wintergreen
Dictionary of Food: International Food and Cooking Terms from A to Z

United States A native evergreen plant, Gaultheria procumbens , with deep green aromatic leaves and edible spicy berries used as a flavouring....

Full text Article wintergreen
The Penguin English Dictionary

noun 1 any of various perennial evergreen plants related to the heathers: genus Pyrola and other genera. 2 a an low...

See more from Credo