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State Herb - Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens)
Adopted by the legislature of 1999 as the state herb. Wintergreen grows in wooded areas and in some clearings from Canada to Georgia. The low growing, glossy leafed herb provides an attractive ground cover; in particular from fall to winter when red berries adorn the plants. In July, the plants bloom, producing white bell shaped flowers.
Traditionally wintergreen has been used for its soothing qualities providing relief from a variety of ailments. Native Americans crushed the leaves and applied them in order to relieve strained muscles and inflammations. Additionally, teas made from wintergreen relieve internal discomforts like sore throats and upset stomachs. Some early colonists even substituted wintergreen for their regular tea, which was heavily taxed during the American Revolution. Today wintergreen is used to flavor gum, candy, and toothpaste.
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