Gaultheria hispidula (L.) Muhl. ex Bigelow
Chiogenes hispidula (L.) Torr. & A. Gray
Creeping Snowberry, Moxie-plum
These North American native plants are partial to swamps, marshes, and bogs in cedar and spruce forests, in shaded locations. Snowberry’s range is restricted to the northern US and Canada, though it was previously found further south.
Plants: These are dense, creeping vines rarely more than an inch in height, with flowers or berries scattered thinly, often nestled on or near sphagnum moss. Vines are woody, with scaly hairs. The vines develop new roots, producing large mats over time.
Leaves: Evergreen, alternate, entire, elliptical to nearly round. Each leaf is ¼-⁵/₁₆" (6.3-8.4 mm) × ⅛-¼" (3.2-6.3 mm) wide, with smooth edges often sprouting tiny hairs. Leaf undersides are covered with brown bristles.
Flowers: Pale, greenish-white flowers are four-parted, bell-shaped, and about ⅛" (3.2 mm) in size. They appear from May to June.
Fruits: White, egg-shaped or nearly rounded berries are about ¼" (6.3 mm) around. If you look closely, you’ll notice they are covered with thinly scattered short brown hairs. Berries appear from August to September.
Edibility: Creeping snowberry is related to wintergreen, and the leaves and fruits have a mild wintergreen flavor, used by tribes as a preserve or tea. Fruit and leaves are both edible. Berries can be eaten fresh, with cream and sugar.
Gaultheria hispidula at the U.S. Forest Service Celebrating Wildflowers site
Gaultheria hispidula at Minnesota Wildflowers
Gaultheria hispidula on wildadirondacks.org
Gaultheria hispidula on gobotany.nativeplanttrust.org
Gaultheria hispidula on Wikipedia
Gaultheria hispidula on Plants for a Future
Gaultheria hispidula description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 7 Sep 2020.