E-Flora BC: Electronic Atlas of the Flora of British Columbia

Gaultheria ovatifolia A. Gray
western tea-berry (Oregon wintergreen; western teaberry)
Ericaceae (Crowberry family)

Introduction to Vascular Plants

© Brian Klinkenberg  Email the photographer   (Photo ID #21602)

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Distribution of Gaultheria ovatifolia
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Species Information

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Low, spreading shrub, to 5 cm tall; stems slender, to 20 cm long, very fine brownish-hairy.
Alternate, evergreen, leathery, egg-shaped to almost heart-shaped, (1.5) 2-4 cm long, (1) 1.5-3 cm wide, tips pointed; margins usually conspicuously sharp-toothed and thickened.
Solitary in leaf axils; flower stalks short, with bractlets; corollas white or pinkish, bell-shaped, 5-lobed, 3.5-5 mm long; calyces brown, about 2 mm long, reddish brown-hairy; anthers opening by terminal pores, without awns.
Berrylike, bright red, globe-shaped, 6-8 mm wide.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia

Habitat / Range

Mesic to wet coniferous forests, heath, and high-elevation bogs in the montane and subalpine zones; frequent in S BC south of 52degreeN; S to N CA and ID.

Source: The Illustrated Flora of British Columbia


Ecological Framework for Gaultheria ovatifolia

The table below shows the species-specific information calculated from
original data (BEC database) provided by the BC Ministry of Forests and Range.
(Updated August, 2013)

Site Information
Value / Class




Elevation (metres) 41 942 2100
Slope Gradient (%) 0 30 150
Aspect (degrees)
[0 - N; 90 - E; 180 - S; 270 - W]
0 196 360
Soil Moisture Regime (SMR)
[0 - very xeric; 4 - mesic;
8 - hydric]
0 3 8
Modal Nutrient Regime
Number of field plots
 species was recorded in:
Modal BEC Zone Class
All BEC Zones (# of stations/zone) species was recorded in: BWBS(2), CWH(86), ESSF(46), ICH(332), IDF(10), MH(78), MS(9), SBS(3)

Ecological Indicator Information

A shade-tolerant/intolerant, montane to subalpine, Western North American evergreen shrub distributed less in the Pacific than the Cordilleran region. Occurs predominantly in continental subalpine boreal and cool temperate climates on very dry to moderately dry, nitrogen-poor soils. Scattered in coniferous forests on water-shedding sites on eastern Vancouver Island and in the coast-interior ecotone; its occurrence increases with increasing continentality. Commonly associated with Pleurozium schreberi, Rhytidiopsis robusta, and Vaccinium membranaceum. An oxylophytic species characteristic of Mor humus forms.

SourceIndicator Plants of Coastal British Columbia (Information applies to coastal locations only)


The climate type for this species, as reported in the: "British Columbia plant species codes and selected attributes. Version 6 Database" (Meidinger et al. 2008), is montane boreal & cool temperate.

Taxonomic and Nomenclatural Links

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General References