Brossaea hispida (R.Br.) Kuntze
Common Name: Snowberry
Gaultheria hispida is an evergreen shrub, usually growing 60 - 90cm tall but occasionally reaching 200cm[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food.
Australia - Tasmania
Mountains; at elevations up to 1,200 metres. Usually found in wet eucalyptus forests in the montane and sub-alpine zone[
Gaultheria hispida can tolerate fairly harsh winters with temperatures falling as low as -5 to -10°c, but really requires a warmer climate if it is going to thrive[
Prefers a moist but not boggy humus rich soil in shade or semi-shade[
]. A peat and moisture loving species, it requires a lime-free soil[
The plant is sometimes temperamental in cultivation[
Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. Somewhat bitter[
]. Not unpleasant, they taste somewhat like gooseberries when cooked but with a slight bitterness[
]. The white, globose fruit is about 8 - 12mm wide[
The plant is said to be useful in the treatment of cancer[
The seed requires a period of cold stratification. Pre-chill for 4 - 10 weeks and then surface sow in a lime-free compost in a shady part of the greenhouse and keep the compost moist[
]. The seed usually germinates well, usually within 1 - 2 months at 20°c, but the seedlings are liable to damp off. It is important to water them with care and to ensure that they get plenty of ventilation. Watering them with a garlic infusion can also help to prevent damping of[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are about 25mm tall and grow them on in light shade in the greenhouse for at least their first winter[
]. Plant them out in late spring or early summer. The seedlings are susceptible to spring frosts so might need some protection for their first few years outdoors. The leaves remain very small for the first few years[
Cuttings of half-ripe wood 3 - 6cm long, mid summer in a frame in a shady position. They form roots in late summer or spring[
]. A good percentage usually take.
Division in spring just before new growth begins[
]. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on in a cold frame until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the spring.