Additional notes (click to expand)


It was named for the French physician and botanist, Jean-François Gaultier (1708–56). He was born in France, practised medicine in Paris and became physician to the king in 1741. He was friendly with the botanists from the Académie Royale des Sciences in Paris, Antoine de Jussieu (1686– 1758) and Bernard de Jussieu (1699–1777), and it may well be that his interest in botany was already evident then. He sailed to Canada in 1742 where he became involved in plant collecting and the fur trade, practising medicine in Quebec at the Hôtel-Dieu Hospital. He set up the fi rst meteorological station in Canada (1742), but his major botanical work was a 400-page manuscript on the plants of Canada in preparation for a six-volume book on the flora of North America. This was never published because of the war between the French Canadians and the English. He helped the botanist Pehr Kalm to explore the area around Quebec (1749), and the grateful Kalm named Gaultheria in his honour. By 1752, his income from his salary and the fur trade was considerable and he married a rich widow who (or which) made him very happy. General Montcalm’s arrival in Quebec to fi ght the British brought with it typhus; Gaultier contracted it and died (Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online).
Oakeley, Dr. Henry. (2012). Doctors in the Medicinal Garden. Plants named after physicians. Royal College of Physicians. p. 68 link


In the family Ericaceae, Gaultheria procumbens is a slow growing, dwarf, evergreen shrub which thrives in North American forests. In the Medicinal Garden it edges a raised bed where it brightens the border in the coldest months with its shiny, red, aromatic berries. Male and female flowers are born on separate plants, so both are necessary to produce the fruits. In spring and summer pink-tinged white, bell-shaped fl owers appear. Like other members of the family Ericaceae, it requires humus-rich, acidic soil. It is fully hardy, but prefers a sheltered site and does not like to dry out. We keep it well watered in summer and mulch annually with leaf mould in spring (Clare Beacham).
Oakeley, Dr. Henry. (2012). Doctors in the Medicinal Garden. Plants named after physicians. Royal College of Physicians. link


Cyclooxygenase inhibitor. Contains methyl salicylate used topically, as Oil of Wintergreen, for musculoskeletal conditions, which is converted in the body to salicylic acid. Latter used for removing warts and corns.
Oakeley, Dr. H.F. (2013). Medicines from RCP plants label list 5-2013.docx.

An infusion of the leaves and berries, under the name of Checkerberry or Partridgeberry tea, was used in North America for treating dropsy (heart failure) at the end of the 18th century.
Samuel Stearn's American Herbal or Materia Medica (1801) Page 100


The compound methyl salicylate was first isolated (from the plant Gaultheria procumbens) in 1843 by the French chemist Auguste André Thomas Cahours (1813–1891), who identified it as an ester of salicylic acid and methanol.[4][5] (accessed 27 May 2019)


"Methyl salicylate is potentially deadly, especially for young children. A single teaspoon (5 ml) of methyl salicylate contains approximately 6 g of salicylate,[21] which is equivalent to almost twenty 300 mg aspirin tablets (5 mL × 1.174 g/mL = 5.87 g). Toxic ingestions of salicylates typically occur with doses of approximately 150 mg/kg body weight. This can be achieved with 1 ml of oil of wintergreen, which equates to 140 mg/kg of salicylates for a 10 kg child (22 lbs).[22] The lowest published lethal dose is 101 mg/kg body weight in adult humans,[23] (or 7.07 grams for a 70 kg adult). It has proven fatal to small children in doses as small as 4 ml.[12] A seventeen-year-old cross-country runner at Notre Dame Academy on Staten Island died in April 2007 after her body absorbed methyl salicylate through excessive use of topical muscle-pain relief products.[24] Most instances of human toxicity due to methyl salicylate are a result of over-application of topical analgesics, especially involving children. Salicylate, the major metabolite of methyl salicylate, may be quantitated in blood, plasma or serum to confirm a diagnosis of poisoning in hospitalized patients or to assist in an autopsy.[25] " (accessed 27 May 2019)

Leaves possibly toxic. Oil of Wintergreen definitely toxic by mouth.
Professor Anthony Dayan, 2022

Gaultheria procumbens L. 'Gaubi'

Genus: Gaultheria
Species: procumbens L.
Cultivar: 'Gaubi'
Common names: Checkerberry; Teaberry; Creeping wintergreen
Distribution summary: North America
Conservation status (IUCN Red List): Not Evaluated
Habit: Shrub
Hardiness: H5 - Hardy; cold winter
Garden status: Not currently grown
Flowering months: July, August
Reason for growing: Medicinal, other use, toxic

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