Friday, October 28, 2011
They're very small plants, usually only growing a few inches off the ground. They are common plants in pine forests. They are evergreens - although sometimes you find them with a dark red leaf. This seems to happen when the leaf is not getting sun because something is covering it. The fruits last through the winter, as well. The plant is a source of food for squirrels, chipmunks, deer, bears, turkeys, and some other animals.
Teaberry is an edible plant for humans as well, both berries and leaves. Best picked after the first frost, the berries have a mild minty flavor. They can be added to pies, cakes, and jams, if you're able to get enough of them. The leaves, when crushed, give off a strong wintergreen scent. The leaves can be eaten right from the plant (young leaves seem to have a nicer flavor). They can also be dried and used to make a mild mint tea. To get any stronger flavor, the leaves must actually ferment in warm water for several days. This water can also be used as a flavoring in other drinks. The essential oil can also be used to flavor foods. (If you've ever heard of Clark's Teaberry gum - which is making a bit of a come back these days - that's an example of a candy flavored with Teaberry, as you might guess by the name.)
Medicinally the plant can be used to treat minor aches, as well as being an anti-inflammatory. A salve can be made from the oil which can be applied to sprains and other such aches. Historically Teaberry was also used to aid troubled breathing. Teaberry tea can also help upset stomachs and nausea. The essential oil of the plant, in large doses, is toxic - so if you do plan to use it, please do your research and watch your dose carefully. (This really goes for ANY plant.)
Magically the plant can be used as an aid in protection workings, as well as bringing good fortune and harmony to the home.