Maine designated wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens) as the official state herb in 1999. Also called eastern teaberry, wintergreen grows in wooded areas and some clearings from Canada to Georgia. Wintergreen has attractive glossy leaves and produces white bell-shaped flowers in summer which in turn produce red berries in the fall.
Wintergreen has medicinal soothing qualities - native American Indians used crushed leaves to relieve strained muscles and inflammations. Teas made from wintergreen can relieve sore throats and upset stomachs. Some early colonists substituted wintergreen for regular tea (which was heavilly taxed during the American Revolution). Today wintergreen is used to flavor gum, candy, and toothpaste.