Both our species are flavored with wintergreen in all parts (even the flowers) and are aromatic when bruised. The fruit is composed largely of the fleshy calyx, the lobes of which are visible at the apex; small bractlets at the base of the fruit might easily be mistaken for a calyx.
1. Leaf blades less than 1 cm long, with scattered dark bristles beneath; flowers 4-merous, ca. 2–3 mm long, open May–June; fruit pure white, ripe July–August; stem prostrate, with appressed dark bristles.
1. Leaf blades (1.5–) 2–4.5 (–5) cm long, without bristles beneath (though on margins of young leaves); flowers 5-merous, 6–9.5 mm long, open late July–August; fruit red, ripe late in the fall (but over-wintering); stem with ± erect shoots bearing incurved whitish hairs or glabrate.
All species found in Gaultheria
MICHIGAN FLORA ONLINE. A. A. Reznicek, E. G. Voss, & B. S. Walters. February 2011. University of Michigan. Web. January 25, 2021. https://michiganflora.net/genus.aspx?id=Gaultheria.