1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Wintergreen
WINTERGREEN, known botanically as Gaultheria procumbens, a member of the heath family (Ericaceae), is a small creeping, evergreen shrub with numerous short erect branches bearing in the upper part shortly-stalked oval, thick, smooth shining leaves with sharp-toothed edge. The flowers are borne singly in the leaf axels and are pendulous, with a pale pink waxy looking urn-shaped corolla. The bright crimson-red sub-globular, berry-like fruit consists of the much-enlarged fleshy calyx which surrounds the small thin-walled many-seeded capsule. The plant is a native of shady woods on sandy soil, especially in mountainous districts, in southern Canada and the northern United States; it is quite hardy in England. The leaves are sharply astringent and have a peculiar aromatic smell and taste due to a volatile oil known as oil of winter green, used in medicine in the treatment of muscular rheumatism (for the therapeutic action see Salicylic Acid). An infusion of the leaves is used, under the name mountain or Salvador tea, in some parts of North America as a substitute for tea; and the fruits are eaten under the name of partridge or deer berries. Other names for the plant are tea-berry, checker-berry, box-berry, jersey tea, spice-berry and ground holly.