Gaultheria Species, American Wintergreen, Boxberry, Checkerberry, Eastern Teaberry,

Gaultheria procumbens

Family: Ericaceae (er-ek-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Gaultheria (gol-THAIR-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: procumbens (pro-KUM-benz) (Info)
Synonym:Brossaea procumbens



Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Partial to Full Shade


Grown for foliage



Foliage Color:




under 6 in. (15 cm)


12-15 in. (30-38 cm)


USDA Zone 3a: to -39.9 C (-40 F)

USDA Zone 3b: to -37.2 C (-35 F)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Late Spring/Early Summer

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

Direct sow as soon as the ground can be worked

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing

Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Hereford, Arizona

Gilroy, California

Oakhurst, California

Oxford, Connecticut

Wilmington, Delaware

Decatur, Georgia

Elgin, Illinois

Elkhart, Iowa

Cumberland, Maryland

Hyattsville, Maryland

Millersville, Maryland

East Brookfield, Massachusetts

Mashpee, Massachusetts

Bay City, Michigan

Saint Helen, Michigan

West Branch, Michigan

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Dunellen, New Jersey

Mount Laurel, New Jersey

Buffalo, New York

Ithaca, New York

New York City, New York

Flat Rock, North Carolina

Bowling Green, Ohio

Cincinnati, Ohio

Uniontown, Ohio

Portland, Oregon(7 reports)

Roseburg, Oregon

Bear Creek, Pennsylvania

Downingtown, Pennsylvania

Milford, Pennsylvania

Millersburg, Pennsylvania

Tidioute, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Wakefield, Rhode Island

Clinton, Tennessee

Germantown, Tennessee

Toone, Tennessee

Fort Worth, Texas

Burlington, Vermont

Blacksburg, Virginia

Leesburg, Virginia

Richmond, Virginia

East Port Orchard, Washington

Marysville, Washington

Parkwood, Washington

Port Orchard, Washington

Puyallup, Washington

Vancouver, Washington

Falling Waters, West Virginia

Stevens Point, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On May 14, 2017, beeplo from Ithaca, NY (Zone 5a) wrote:

Very lovely, albeit slow growing groundcover. As others mention, it is fussy about its conditions but if you give it what it wants (shady acid area with pine loam) it requires no special attention. Smells nice when you rub the leaves. Reminds me of holly or mistletoe but in low-growing, creeping form.


On Dec 4, 2013, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

Even though I am now living in the East Coast Region of se PA with normally acid soils, I know Wintergreen will not grow well in my good quality but all clay soil that is barely acid in my yard. It would probably be successful where I made a berm of the soil modified by incorporating lots of coarse sand, peatmoss, and some sulfur/iron sulfate pellets for the Bearberry, that is doing well. I decided instead to just plant one plant in my big pot with the two dwarf blueberry plants. My blueberry plants showed chlorosis last year, so I added acid admendment of sulfur/iron sulfate pellets and now all the plants are happy at pH 4.0 to 6.0. Otherwise, this plant is doing well as a common, wild groundcover up in the Poconos region of Pennsylvania in the sandy acid soils of the forest up there.


On Jul 9, 2013, DonnaMack from Elgin, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

This plant is fabulous if you give it the conditions it requires. I do not have acid soil, so I put three in with soil conditioner and compost, and then used the kind of fertilizer you use with azaleas. I also watered them for the first couple of weeks. I installed them in April 2013. By May they were expanding and now in July there are little white flowers. I have it in a shade area with mertensia, bergenias, geranium Bevans Variety and hostas. I think that fairly exacting conditions on establshment are critical. After that it requires little care.


On May 14, 2013, dmith7777 from East Brookfield, MA wrote:

This plant absolutely must be planted in acidic woodland debris type soil, It will not tolerate, lime, fertiliser, ashes, manure, city water, mineralized well water, or full hot sun, subjecting this plant to any of these things will kill it fairly rapidly.
Also this plant is not poisonous by any means, I have eaten thousands of the leaves, stems and berries with no problems.


On Oct 26, 2009, MissyMc from Germantown, TN wrote:

An evergreen creeper with small white flowers in the spring and lovely red berries in the fall - a very nice accent plant. However, this is a very particular plant, and once it's gone it's gone. In one area of my yard it's spreading and doing great and in another I cannot keep them alive. But I like the look, so I keep trying.


On Mar 11, 2009, grrrlgeek from Grayslake, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

Eastern Teaberry is native to the eastern US and Canada. It is listed as endangered in Illinois.


On May 14, 2008, stormyla from Norristown, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:

Even though I amended my clay soil, all of these died. I had two different sets, over two years and no success with any of them.


On Dec 5, 2007, MossyHillManor from Hyattsville, MD wrote:

So far, so good. I planted a patch in spring. They grew nicely, so added a few more in the fall. They are growing, but very slowly-- sending up a few runners. It's now December, and they have berries and are turning a bit purple. They are very, very pretty.

Unfortunately, I have clay soil. I ammended the soil at planting, and I have mulched with pine bark. I plan to add compost this coming spring.

After all the stories I have heard about how hard it is to grow, I am especially pleased at their appearance and growth. We'll see how they continue. They are native to this area (Maryland) so I at least have that going for me.

Got to say that I smile just about every time that I look at 'em. If you are hesitant, I'd say go ahead and give them... read more


On Oct 26, 2004, tcfromky from Mercer, PA (Zone 5a) wrote:

An evergreen groundcover. White flowers in spring followed by red berries in fall. Leaves are used for making tea. Prefers shade and rich acidic soil.


On Aug 14, 2004, henryr10 from Cincinnati, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

I had absolutely no luck w/ this plant.
I first tried it 5 years ago.
It came on strong then gradually wasted away.
As we had the perfect light conditions for it,
I knew that couldn't be the problem.

In an old 1908 English gardening book I found the problem.
Growing it in heavy clay or limey soil is a sentence to a slow death.
It has to be in very acid soil.

We pulled the plants, potted them up in a topsoil/peat mix and planted the pot.
This was 3 years ago.
We've had no problems since.


On Aug 12, 2004, kente from Oakland, CA wrote:

This plant used to grow wild in the woods in New Hampshire when I was growing up. We used to pick the berries and chew them, and sometimes we just admired the little star shape on the bottom of the berries. They were used in terrariums around the holidays and also decorated fresh wreaths. Since they grew wild, no one cultivated this plant in gardens. I am looking forward to trying it in my Northern California garden next year.


On Aug 11, 2004, MN_Darren from Saint Paul, MN wrote:

I have three happy clumps of this that are spreading quickly in soil that is adjacent to spruce trees and artificially acidified. I also mulched the area with pine bark mulch. It's low growing (3-6"), attractive, and the berries are quite interesting--the texture is similar to an apple, but the taste is...well...wintergreen. Even the leaves have the flavor. They are found in Northern Minnesota, and seem to do very well in Southern Minnesota given acidic soil.


On Apr 24, 2004, deekayn from Tweed Coast,
Australia wrote:

I use very small amounts of the essential oil from the leaves, for muscle rubs in my clinic. Very effective.
It has been/is used for flavouring in toothpaste, chewing gum, root beer, Coca-Cola, and other soft drinks.


On Apr 17, 2004, Pollygardening from RICHMOND, VA (Zone 7b) wrote:

It is mid - April here in zone 7b and I await a wakening;
it must be a late starter


On Aug 31, 2001, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Evergreen shrublet, creeping, to about 6 inches (15 cm) tall, stoloniferous and in time providing a dense ground cover. Leaves simple, crowded at branch tips, elliptic to elliptic-obovate, 2-5 cm by 1-2 cm, dark green, glossy above. Flowers urn-shaped, 7 mm, white or pinkish, single or rarely in small racemes. Fruits globose, 8-15 mm, red, very aromatic when rubbed, persistent from October to late spring.