Common Names: Eastern teaberry, checkerberry, boxberry, American wintergreen
Sub-category: Heath family
A small, low-growing shrub, typically reaching 10 to 15 cm tall. The leaves are evergreen, elliptic to ovate, 2 to 5 cm long and 1 to 2 cm broad, with a distinct oil of wintergreen scent. The flowers are bell-shaped, 5 mm long, white, borne solitary or in short racemes. The red, berry-like fruit is actually a dry capsule surrounded by fleshy calyx, 6 to 9 mm diameter.
Edible Notes: The fruits are considered its actual "teaberries", are edible, with a taste of mildly sweet wintergreen. The leaves and branches make a fine herbal tea, through normal drying and infusion process. For the leaves to yield significant amounts of their essential oil, they need to be fermented for at least three days. Teaberry is also a flavor of ice cream in regions where the plant grows. It likewise inspired the name of Clark's Teaberry chewing gum.
Warnings: Teaberry tends to resemble young mountain laurel plants which are extremely toxic. They also tend to grow in the same habitat and are often found in close proximity, growing together. It is critical to be able to identify the difference between teaberry and mountain laurel for this reason.