Herb: Fragrant Wintergreen

Latin name: Gaultheria fragrantissima

Synonyms: Gaultheria ovalifolia

Family: Ericaceae (Heath Family)

Medicinal use of Fragrant Wintergreen:

The essential oil obtained from the leaves is antiseptic, aromatic, carminative and stimulant. It is used in the treatment of rheumatism, scabies and neuralgia. It is also taken internally in the treatment of hook worms. The juice of the leaves is used in the treatment of coughs. Both the juice and the whole leaves are usd as an anthelmintic that is effective against hookworms. The unripe fruits are chewed or made into a juice to treat stomach troubles.

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

to May


Habitat of the herb:

Forests and shrubberies, usually on dry slopes, at elevations of 1200 - 2700 metres in the Himalayas.

Edible parts of Fragrant Wintergreen:

Fruit - raw or cooked. The purplish-blue fruit is about 8mm in diameter. Leaves - raw. Chewed (to relieve thirst?). An essential oil obtained from the leaves is used as a flavouring. A tea is made from the leaves.

Other uses of the herb:

The leaves yield around 1.25% of an essential oil, this is a wintergreen substitute and it is used in perfumery, as a hair oil and medicinally.

Propagation of Fragrant Wintergreen:

The seed requires a period of cold stratification. Pre-chill for 4 - 10 weeks and then surface sow in a lime-free compost in a shady part of the greenhouse and keep the compost moist. The seed usually germinates well, usually within 1 - 2 months at 20C, but the seedlings are liable to damp off. It is important to water them with care and to ensure that they get plenty of ventilation. Watering them with a garlic infusion can also help to prevent damping of. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are about 25mm tall and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer. The seedlings are susceptible to spring frosts so might need some protection for their first few years outdoors. The leaves remain very small for the first few years. Cuttings of half-ripe wood 3 - 6cm long, July/August in a frame in a shady position. They form roots in late summer or spring. A good percentage usually take. Division in spring just before new growth begins. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring. Layering.

Cultivation of the herb:

Forests and shrubberies, usually on dry slopes, at elevations of 1200 - 2700 metres in the Himalayas.

Known hazards of Gaultheria fragrantissima:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.