EASTERN TEABERRY Gaultheria procumbens

The Sermon on the Mount, recorded in chapters 5, 6, and 7 of Matthew, contains many profound insights. The humble, merciful and peaceful are blessed in the beginning. Modesty, self control, generosity and devotion are applauded, while judgmental, vindictive and self-righteous attitudes are pointedly disapproved.

The response of the people who heard this discourse by Jesus contains the key word for today’s wildflower. In Matthew 7:28 we read, “The result was that when Jesus had finished these words, the multitudes were amazed at His teaching.”

The word is “amazed,” and I am truly amazed at the wonders we can observe in the natural world that God has created for us. This week’s wildflower illustrates that point as well as the diversity of cultures that new residents bring to the east metro communities.


Gaultheria procumbens

The teaberry is also called checkerberry and wintergreen, but the source of those names seems to be lost. Teaberry has its source from its social and medicinal usages. Its oil was used to relieve headaches because the plant contains methyl salicylate which is related to aspirin. The social source of the name comes from the use of the leaves to brew a very aromatic tea.

The tiny blooms are white and point downward, measuring 3/16 inch diameter at the top and about 1/16 inch at the opening. They are only 1/4 inch long. The leaves are upright on red stems while the flowers droop on pale pedicels, as illustrated. There are five very short “petals” at the base of the urn-shaped structure. Inside are 10 stamens and a pistil.

Teaberry is an evergreen and thus is technically classified as a shrub. It rarely stands taller than 6 inches, while the stem runs along the ground as a vine. It is rare to find the teaberry this far south. It is generally found in the woodlands of Northeastern U.S. Their secondary location has been the Appalachians where it is much less common. (Adams and Casstevens)

About 10 years ago, my wife transplanted a cluster of teaberry plants from a mountain near her birthplace in southwestern Virginia. For about five years the plants appeared dormant as they established their root system. They are by no means prolific, but they bloom from April to June.

The diversity of the wildflower kingdom reminds me of the cultural diversity that is developing in the east metro area. May we come to celebrate that diversity as a gift from God and welcome newcomers who enrich our lives. The image of the final judgment that Jesus gave to his disciples included eternal blessing for those people who helped the needy. Jesus said, “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in . . .” (Matt. 25:35). The good people asked “When did we do that for you?” He replied, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” (v.40).

Orrin Morris is a retired Baptist minister, local artist and art teacher. To purchase a two-volume set of books featuring his wildflower columns, visit The Sketching Pad in Olde Town Conyers, or call 770-929-3697 or text 404-824-3697. Email him at


I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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