Maine State Herb


Maine State Herb: Wintergreen

(Gaultheria procumbens)

Adopted in 1999

Wintergreen was adopted by the legislature of 1999 as the state herb. Wintergreen grows in wooded areas and in some clearings from Canada to Georgia. The low growing, glossy leafed herb provides an attractive ground cover; in particular from fall to winter when red berries adorn the plants. In July, the plants bloom, producing white bell shaped flowers.

Traditionally wintergreen has been used for its soothing qualities providing relief from a variety of ailments. Native Americans crushed the leaves and applied them in order to relieve strained muscles and inflammations. Additionally, teas made from wintergreen relieve internal discomforts like sore throats and upset stomachs. Some early colonists even substituted wintergreen for their regular tea, which was heavily taxed during the American Revolution. Today wintergreen is used to flavor gum, candy, and toothpaste.

Maine State Herb: Wintergreen

Wintergreen is a group of plants. Wintergreen once commonly referred to plants that remain green (continue photosynthesis) throughout the winter. The term evergreen is now more commonly used for this characteristic.

Most species of the shrub genus Gaultheria demonstrate this characteristic and are called wintergreens in North America, the most common generally being the Eastern Teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens).

Wintergreen berries, from Gaultheria procumbens, are used medicinally. Native Americans brewed a tea from the leaves to alleviate rheumatic symptoms, headache, fever, sore throat and various aches and pains. During the American Revolution, wintergreen leaves were used as a substitute for tea, which was scarce

Maine Law

The law designating the herb wintergreen as the official Maine state herb is found in then Maine Revised Statutes, Title 1, Chapter 9, Subchapter 1, Section 214.

§221. State herb
The herb wintergreen (gaultheria procumbens) is the official state herb. [1999, c. 27, §1 (new).]
Section History:
PL 1999,  Ch. 27, §1 (NEW).

Taxonomic Hierarchy: Wintergreen

Kingdom: Plantae - Plants
    Subkingdom: Tracheobionta - Vascular plants
Superdivision: Spermatophyta - Seed plants
     Division: Magnoliophyta - Flowering plants
Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
     Subclass: Dilleniidae -
Order: Ericales -
Family: Ericaceae - Heath family
Genus: Gaultheria L. - snowberry
Species: Gaultheria procumbens L. - eastern teaberry

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