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Common Shrub Species of the Northwest Forest

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HERBS

GRAMINOIDS

FERNS & FERN-ALLIES

BROPHYTES & LICHENS

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Terminology | Pictorial

   
Gaultheria procumbens
Wintergreen
Ericaceae (Heath Family)

Description

General - a broadleaf evergreen shrublet, less than 15 cm high; rhizomatous stem spreading along or just below ground level; leafy, hairless stems erect, single or forming patches.

Wintergreen Leaves - alternate; at the top of the upright stems; thick, toothed, glossy, lanceolate, dark green and shiny above, paler beneath; margins rolled under.

Flowers - single or in in 2 or 3 clusters from the leaf angles; white, bell-like, often with a touch of pink, approx. 5 mm long, appearing in June.

Fruit - berry, reddish violet, globose, 6-9 mm long; minty, with a rather spongy texture, ripening in September, often persisting through the winter.

Habitat

Circumboreal; in NW Ontario, primarily in southern areas of the region between Thunder Bay and Lake of the Woods, also near Lake Superior. Dry to wet woods and clearings; white pine woods, sandy, peaty pine/oak scrub, sphagnum bogs, pine barrens, swamps. Dry and moist upland peat and wet sphagnum peat.

Notes

The Wintergreen might be confused with the Flowering Wintergreen when flower is not present but its distinct wintergreen taste and odour make identification easier.

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