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The Teaberry Plant | A Native to New England

The Teaberry Plant | A Native to New England
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teaberry

The teaberry plant is also commonly referred to as wintergreen or checkerberry.

Teaberry plants are almost everywhere in New England and are usually at their peak in mid-October! If you have ever spent time walking in the woods in New England, chances are you have stumbled across or even walked upon teaberry plants. If you are native to New England, you may even have fond memories of searching for and gathering the mild tasting berries that grow from the small groundcover plants. Teaberries were used commercially in the making of Teaberry chewing gum — one of the first chewing gums marketed in the United States at around 1900 —which is still available today. For centuries Teaberries have also been used medicinally and as a flavoring for candies, herbal remedies, tea and even wine.

The Teaberry plant is an evergreen species native to New England as well as other areas of the North Eastern parts of the United States and Canada. It grows in shady and wet woodland areas where ferns, mushrooms and moss thrive. It has small, rounded semi-shiny leaves and bears tiny bell shaped white flowers that mature into red berries that sometimes have a pinkish hue. The berries are typically the size and shape of a pea, though they are firmer than most berries and have a mealy texture with a light, yet fragrant scent and an understated berry flavor with a hint of a warm mint and spice undertone.

This versatile and easy growing plant is being used more and more in landscapes, particularly in New England and other areas to which it is native. Perfect for gardeners who want to mimic their natural surroundings and grow plants in their gardens that incorporate and work with their environment seamlessly.

Because the Teaberry plant stores moisture and grows best in shaded areas, it requires very little if any watering once established. The trailing leaves can also be easily trained to climb around stakes or garden statues. Teaberry plants are also a great choice for a terrarium plant.

 Teaberry Planting and Growing Instructions

  1.  Planting time for the Tea Berry is in the late spring.
  2. Choose a partially shaded area with well drained, yet rich soil.
  3. Transfer healthy, newly dug up plants with a generous root system to the shaded area and plant as deep as the roots allow without being stretched. If you are planting from seeds instead -plant the seeds 2-3 inches deep and be sure to leave at least 4 inches of space for growth in between the seeds.
  4. Keep the soil consistently moist. Expect germination to begin in approximately 6-8 weeks.

 

Once established, the Teabrry will spread on it’s own and require little if any care.

 

Shelley Wigglesworth

Author:

Shelley Wigglesworth

Biography:

Shelley Fleming-Wigglesworth is a certified Maine Master Gardener and award winning newspaper columnist from Kennebunk, Maine. She has been writing for the York County Coast Star for more than a decade as a freelance columnist and features writer. In 2010 she began writing her own gardening column “The Master Gardener’s Notebook” for Tourist News. She also teaches gardening classes at local schools and colleges

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One Response to The Teaberry Plant | A Native to New England

  1. Barbara Dakin November 12, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    My Dad introduced me to teaberries – although growing up in Maine we called them checkerberries, in our walks through the woods when I was a little girl in. I always loved their flavor and the scent of the leaves when you crushed them. A nice memory!

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