American Wintergreen Plant - Gaultheria Procumbens
American wintergreen, gaultheria procumbens, is a small perennial and evergreen herb native to North and Central America. The name "Chimaphila" means lover of winter, maybe because the plant is visible during autumn and winter. Other common names of the plant are striped-wintergreen, striped prince's pine, or ratsbane. Spotted wintergreen is attractive in winter and summer because of the leaves' mottled dark green and white appearance; hence, its "spotted" and "striped" nicknames. Spotted wintergreen is also an ornamental plant for its attractive foliage and blooms.
The foliage takes on a purplish color during winter. It blooms in early to late summer with small clusters of nodding, waxy pink or white flowers appearing at the top of a tall, woody stalk or slender stem that emerged from creepy rhizomes. Its flower has a mild, delicate fragrance. The plant's leaves are edible, whereas others use them as remedies for some ailments since it has a long history of healing purposes. The common diseases used to treat this plant are abrasions and wounds and some more severe illnesses, such as arthritic conditions and urinary tract diseases.
American Wintergreen Plant Adds Beauty To Woodland Setting as A Ground-cover
It grows naturally in dry woods, which increase vegetatively and by seedling reproduction following light wildfires. It also adds beauty to the woodland setting as a ground cover or under shrubs that provide color and variegated leaves. Spotted wintergreen grows from 6 to 12 inches tall and 6 to 9 inches wide. It has ten stamens, and the fruits are generally dry and split open when ripe. Wintergreen plants have edible berries that are bitter-tasting and mint-scented leaves.
The bright red berries and reddish-bronze leaves are a beautiful sight in the winter when there is not much to look at in the landscape. Growing spotted wintergreen requires very well-drained soil. Native to the shady woods, this plant prefers dry, sandy substrate underneath neutral, slightly alkaline, or slightly acidic soil. It thrives well in partial to medium shade. It is low maintenance since the plant is relatively small, thus, eliminating the need for cutting every year or even pruning. This slow-growing plant grows only a couple of inches each year. Bees are the plant's primary pollinator, and the deer generally avoids this plant while the foliage is toxic to sheep.
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