Checkerberry is an evergreen sub-shrub which spreads into mats about 15 cm high by sending out runners. It has decorative leaves, flowers and berries. The leaves are oval, entire, dark green and shiny. The small bell-shaped white flowers appear in early summer in the leaf axils, either singly or in small clusters of 2-3. In autumn, bright red decorative berries ripen which last through the winter.
Checkerberry grows naturally in the forests and mires of eastern North America, where it is called Wintergreen; the aromatic “wintergreen oil” of the leaves and berries is a popular flavour in chewing gum.
Checkerberry, a recent newcomer in Finland, has been sold as a Christmas season potted plant. This large-berried form is of southern origin and may not be hardy planted outdoors. The smaller-berried northern forms of wild origin seem to be thriving at Mustila.