Plant wintergreen in your garden and you've got a natural pain reliever, anti-inflammatory and tasty base for herb tea. Native peoples and early American settlers relied on wintergreen teas and oil to relieve fever, reduce inflammation and even prevent tooth decay. This hardy herb grows wild throughout Canada and much of the central and eastern United States. Its leaves have a minty, refreshing taste and can be brewed into a tea or munched on fresh. Eat the red berries fresh or bake them into pies and jams.
Plant wintergreen from seed, nursery plants or native cuttings in a damp spot in your garden that receives full to partial shade. Water newly-planted wintergreen frequently so the soil stays moist, but not soggy. Once wintergreen is established, it can survive on less water.
Pick the wintergreen berries off the stems when they've turned bright red in late fall.
Harvest all the wintergreen berries at once, or leave some on the bushes. They'll remain until spring and you can harvest them all winter.