French Name—Gautiere rampante.
Officinal Names—Gaultheria, Gualtheria.
Vulgar Names—Partridge-berry, Grouse-berry, Deerberry, Spiceberry, Teaberry, Redberry, Wintergreen, Redberry-tea, Mountain-tea, Groundberry, Ground Ivy, Ground holly, Hillberry, Box-berry, Chequer-berry, &c.
Synonyms—Gualtheria or Gaultheria procumbens of many Botanists, &c.
Authorities—Lin. Schoepf, Kalm, Duh. Colden, Mich. Pursh, Eaton, Torrey, W. Bart. fig. 15. Coxe, Zollickoffer, Big. fig. 22 bad ("bad"? Heh. Rafinesque stole his image from Bigelow ... -Henriette) and Seq.
Genus GAUTIERA—Calix campanulate five cleft persistent with two scales at the base. Corolla oval five toothed. Stamina ten equal, on the base of the Corolla, filaments hairy, anthers bifid above, ten scales alternate with the filaments. Germen free round, style filiform, stigma obtuse. Fruit a round berry formed by the persistent calix become globulous, fleshy, five toothed, inclosing a Capsul five celled, five valved, many seeded.
Species G. REPENS—Root creeping, Stems erect, leaves few, terminal, conferted, evergreen, petiolate, obovate, mucronate. Flowers few, terminal, with drooping peduncles.
Description—Root horizontal, creeping, slender, yellowish, with few fibres. Stems several, upright, few inches high, slender, base naked with a few scales. Leaves terminal, nearly fasciculate, unequal, few, three to five on short petiols, scattered, coriaceous oval or oboval, pale beneath, acute, with some short mucronate teeth.
Flowers few, terminal, subaxillary, on drooping downy peduncles. Calix double, external bifid, scaly, interior campanulate five cleft, changing afterwards into the fleshy covering of the fruit. Corolla ovate, white or flesh colored, with five teeth. Ten Stamina of a rose color, filaments plumose, bent on the base of the corolla, alterne with ten small scales, anthers oblong orange color, bilobe two-horned, dehiscent outside, pollen white. Germ round, depressed resting on a ring which bears the ten scales or teeth. Style erect, filiform. Stigma obtuse, moist. The fruit is a small five celled five valved and many seeded capsul, inclosed within the fleshy calix, which assumes the appearance of a round scarlet perforated berry, of the size of a pea.
Locality—On hills and mountains, in shady woods, Pine woods, rocky and sandy soils, from Maine to Carolina and Indiana; unknown in rich alluvial or limestone plains.
History—Dedicated to Dr. Gautier of Canada by Kalm, wrongly mispelt Gaultheria and Gualtheria by many; but errors ought not to be copied forever, thus the misname of procumbens given to it must at last be changed into G. repens, since it is creeping and not procumbent. It belongs to the Natural family of ERICINES or BICORNES, and to Decandria monogynia of Linnaeus.
The whole plant has long been known and used as a pleasant common drink in the country by the name of mountain-tea. The berries have a peculiar grateful flavor, and are eaten by children, although rather dry. They are eaten greedily by Game and birds, Deer, Rabbits, Partridges, Grouse, &c. and impart a fine flavor to their flesh, in the fall and winter, when ripe. The plant blossoms from June to September. It is known by a multitude of local names.
Qualities—The whole plant has a peculiar taste and smell, aromatic and sweet. It contains sugar, tannin, mucilage and an essential Oil, in which reside the taste, smell and properties. This Oil is very singular and peculiar, it is very heavy, sinking in water, yet volatile, perfectly transparent of a greenish white, aromatic, sweet and highly pungent, containing a peculiar principle Gautierine.
Properties—Stimulant, anodyne, astringent, menagogue, antispasmodic, diaphoretic, lacteal, cordial, &c. A popular remedy in many parts of the Country. It is generally used as a tea, but the essence and Oil possess eminently all the properties, and are kept in shops. The tea is used as a palliative in asthma, to restore strength, promote menstruation, also in cases of debility, in the secondary stage of diarrhoea, and to promote the lacteal secretion of the breast, &c.: it is a very agreeable and refreshing beverage, much preferable to imported China Teas. The Oil and Essence prepared by dissolving it in Alcohol, are employed whenever warm and cordial stimulants are required. The Oil cures the tooth-ache or allays the pain of carious teeth, like other strong essential Oils. The Indians made great use of this plant as a stimulant, restorative, cordial, &c. It is injurious in fevers.
Substitutes—Monarda Sp.—Panax or Ginseng—Laurus benzoin—Aristolochia serpentaria—Asarum canadense, &c. &c.
Remarks—All the plants which have more or less the smell and taste of Gautiera, contain the same Oil and principle, and may probably be available equivalents. They are Gautiera hispidula and Spirea ulmaria, roots of Polygala paucifolia and Spirea lobata, bark of Betula lenta or Sweet Birch tree, &c. They are called Pollom by the Indians.
The Oil of Gautiera is now used in all the secret officinal Panaceas to disguise or cover the taste of the other ingredients, which are generally common articles such as Guayacum, Solanum dulcamara, Sarsaparilla, Mezereon, Stillingia sylvatica, Snake roots, Spikenards, &c.
Additions and corrections
40. GAUTIERA REPENS—The Southern Indians are said to esteem this plant highly, and to use it even in fevers and breast complaints, although too stimulant; but it is useful in cough and catarrh. The oil of this plant has a powerful smell, very fragrant, and yet approximating to Noyau: does it contain an atom of prussic acid?
Medical Flora, or Manual of the Medical Botany of the United States of North America, 1828, was written by C. S. Rafinesque.