The Ericaceae family includes the evergreen wintergreen plant, which only reaches a height of six inches above the ground. Wintergreen is renowned for its year-round greenery, white blooms in the spring, and vivid red berries. Deerberries are another name for these berries. For several hundred years, wintergreen has been a popular addition to teas. It also tastes in toothpaste, chewing gum, and root beer.
The Ericaceae family includes two types of wintergreen plants. First is Gaultheria fragrantissima, indigenous to parts of South Asia like Nepal. The second species, Gaultheria procumbens, is a native plant that may have been discovered in Eastern North America, from Georgia in the south to Newfoundland in the north. The common names of the North American species, such as eastern teaberry, creeping wintergreen, and checkerberry, are more well-known.
Growing Wintergreen Plants: A Guide
Wintergreen plants are pretty easy to grow.
Acidic soil: Wintergreen plants perform well in acidic environments, or soil with a pH of 4.0 to 6.0, much like rhododendrons. Using a soil testing kit that you can often get at any nearby garden shop or online is the quickest and most accurate method to determine the pH of your soil. Simply follow the directions on the testing kit to determine the pH of your soil (which usually include dipping pH test sheets or litmus into diluted soil samples) and then compare your findings to a chart or pH meter that came with the kit.
Ample water: Ensure that wintergreen plants are consistently damp and irrigated. During the winter, there could be enough rain to keep them moist, but in the summer, you’ll probably need to water plants each week or more.
Abundant shadow: Wintergreen plants thrive in the shade, contributing to their excellent ground cover qualities. Plant wintergreens in a location with a balance of complete shade and strong, indirect sunshine to observe their summer blooms.
Temperate regions: USDA Hardiness Classes 3 to 7 are ideal for wintergreen plants. Plant wintergreen inside a container if you reside in a freezing, hot, or dry area.
Pest control: Although the fragrant oil from the spotted wintergreen plant repels most pests, aphids may sometimes be an issue. Simply look beneath the leaves for the tiny, light-green bugs; if you see any, wash them off with a hose.
What is oil from wintergreen?
The plant’s leaves are where wintergreen oil is derived and has a minty taste and perfume. Methyl salicylate, an organic molecule often used with menthol for topical pain treatment, is the active component in wintergreen essential oil. The only essential oil naturally containing the active component methyl salicylate is birch. The most typical method for obtaining wintergreen oil is steam distillation.
Wintergreen: Toxic and Safety Tips
While wintergreen berries and leaves are acceptable to eat, wintergreen essential oil should never be used undiluted. When engaging with wintergreen, keep in mind these safety recommendations.
1. Prevent using wintergreen dental products in your mouth. Wintergreen oil is sometimes included in toothpaste and mouthwash to prevent plaque accumulation and eliminate germs that cause foul breath. Avoid ingesting toothpaste or mouthwash containing wintergreen oil to prevent nausea. If you are nursing or pregnant, please refrain from using any products containing wintergreen oil.
2. For aromatherapy, dilute wintergreen oil. Pure essential oils may irritate the skin. To make a secure essential oil mix for topical treatments, always dilute pure essential oils—such as wintergreen, eucalyptus oil, rosemary, peppermint, or tea tree eucalyptus—with essential oils like olives or jojoba oil. Before adding a small amount of wintergreen oil into the diffuser, check the dilution instructions or your doctor.
3. Safely store wintergreen oil. Keep wintergreen oil inside a glass container and out of children’s reach in a cold, dry location.
Wintergreen essential oil is very aromatic and used to treat rheumatism, arthritis, tendonitis, and backaches, muscular spasms, such as low back discomfort.
- All who have experienced muscle and joint discomfort and have found relief from it appreciate and admire its advantages.
- American wintergreen helps to improve muscular tone by reducing pain due to the analgesic effects of methyl salicylate.
- It is rubbed in the sore areas after diluting, perhaps with olive oil, Arnica oil, or another oil derived from plants.
In short, the American wintergreen is very effective in reducing inflammation and improving digestion. Another advantage is that the tannin in it has anti-diarrheal properties. The leaves of American wintergreen are used to make essential oil. It is used to make liniments to treat neuralgia and muscular pain, including sciatica. Other uses for this essential oil include flavoring toothpaste, beverages, and medications.