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Common Wintergreen

Common Wintergreen is one of 3 very similar looking Wintergreens. It is an evergreen perennial, hence the name. Wintergreens grow in pine and birch woods, open moorland scattered around Scotland, and can sometimes be found in coastal sand dunes. In olden days the leaves of Wintergreen were used to treat bladder or kidney infections, and also wounds, because they have both diuretic and disinfectant properties. 

A cluster of broad glossy basal leaves form a loose rosette, with a few scattered up the stem. Usually 25 to 40mm in length, the leaves are oval and blunt with tiny rounded teeth along the edges and grow on short stalks. Both leaves and stems are hairless. 

The flowering stems stand upright well above the leaves and are slightly scaly. They support the flowers in a crowded spike, with anything from 5 to 17 flowers on a spike. Each flower is a tiny globe of pinkish white with 5 rounded petals, nodding from a short stalk the same length as the flower.  Flowers are 5 to 6.5mm long and inside the globe-like cups are 10 short yellow stamens and a 5-lobed stigma on a style which is shorter than the petals. Two other varieties of Wintergreen have slightly different features. Intermediate Wintergreen (P.Media) has a long straight style protruding from the petals, and Round-leaved Wintergreen (P.Rotundifolia) has a long curved style and more open flowers.

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