This specimen of eastern teaberry (Gaultheria procumbens), also called American wintergreen, was collected on July 12, 1963 by Leroy Henry (Carnegie Museum Curator of Botany at the time) and Dean Ross in a cranberry bog in Somerset county, Pennsylvania.
It is perhaps best known by many as a unique wintergreen flavor of chewing gum and ice cream, especially in Pennsylvania. Atlas Obscura says Teaberry ice cream: “sometimes looks like Pepto-Bismol and smells like Bengay.” Penn State Berkey Creamery calls it the “best treat of a bygone era.”
Teaberry is in the heath (blueberry) family, Ericaceae. It is a small shrub growing along the ground, found across the Eastern US and has distinctive evergreen leaves.
Find a high resolution image of this teaberry specimen (and more) online at midatlanticherbaria.org.
Check back for more! Botanists at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History share digital specimens from the herbarium on dates they were collected. They have embarked on a three-year project to digitize nearly 190,000 plant specimens collected in the region, making images and other data publicly available online. This effort is part of the Mid-Atlantic Megalopolis Project (mamdigitization.org), a network of thirteen herbaria spanning the densely populated urban corridor from Washington, D.C. to New York City to achieve a greater understanding of our urban areas, including the unique industrial and environmental history of the greater Pittsburgh region. This project is made possible by the National Science Foundation under grant no. 1801022.
Mason Heberling is Assistant Curator of Botany at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Museum employees are encouraged to blog about their unique experiences and knowledge gained from working at the museum.