Gaultheria japonica bears a close resemblance to Gaultheria hispidula (L.) Bigelow of N. America and is sometimes treated as a variety or subspecies of the latter. Gaultheria japonica, however, has a calyx much longer than the bracteoles, ovate and acute calyx lobes, and shorter anther projections. In Gaultheria hispidula the calyx is as long as or slightly longer than the bracteoles, the calyx lobes are broadly ovate and obtuse or subacute, and the anthers have distinct projections[
Arbutus filiformis Lam.
Arbutus thymifolia Aiton
Chiogenes hispidula (L.) Torr. & A.Gray
Chiogenes serpyllifolia Salisb.
Gaultheria serpyllifolia Pursh
Glyciphylla hispidula (L.) Raf.
Lasierpa hispidula (L.) Torr.
Oxycoccus hispidulus Pers.
Phalerocarpus hispidulus Heynh.
Phalerocarpus serpyllifolia G.Don
Schollera hispidula Steud.
Vaccinium hispidulum L.
Common Name: Creeping Snowberry
Gaultheria hispidula is an evergreen plant with stems that are more or less woody and persist. A creeping, mat-forming plant with stoloniferous roots, it grows up to 14cm tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine - the fruit is sometimes sold in local markets[
].. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental in gardens, where it can be used as a ground cover.
Northern N. America - British Colombia to Newfoundland, south to Washington and Idaho in the west, Minnesota to West Virginia and Maryland in the east
Coniferous forests and mountains in the alpine and sub-alpine zones[
]. Cold wet woods and bogs[
]. Sphagnum bogs, fens and mossy, coniferous woodland forests and swamps, often on moss-covered or rotting logs; at elevations from 30 - 1,400 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
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[
A fast growing plant[
The plant can make a good nesting place for mice, these mice then eat the bark of the stems in winter causing die-back.
Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[
Fruit - raw or cooked. Pleasantly acid and refreshing[
], with a delicate flavour of wintergreen[
]. An agreeable sub-acid taste, similar to Gaultheria shallon[
]. They can be made into delicious preserves[
]. The white fruit is about 3 - 6mm in diameter[
Leaves - raw or cooked[
The leaves are used to make a tea[
]. A mild flavour of wintergreen[
]. Said to be superior to china tea[
The plant is said to remove the cancerous taint from the body[
An infusion of the leaves has been used as a tonic for a person who has overeaten[
A useful fast growing ground cover plant for shady positions.
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.