Brossaea myrsinites (Hook.) Kuntze
Gaultheria myrsinites Hook.
Vaccinium humifusum Graham
Vaccinium obtusum Pursh
Common Name: Alpine Spicy Wintergreen
Gaultheria humifusa is an evergreen perennial plant with stems that become more or less woody and persist. A creeping, mat-forming plant with stoloniferous roots, the slender stems can be 10 - 20cm tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental in gardens, where it can be used as a ground cover.
Western N. America - British Colombia to Alberta, south to California, Nevada, Utah and Colorado.
Coniferous woodlands and in moist soils along stream banks, subalpine to alpine wet meadows, rocky mountain slopes; at elevations from 900 - 3,700 metres[
]. Moist alpine and sub-alpine slopes[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Prefers a moist but not boggy humus rich soil in sun or semi-shade[
]. This species requires a lot of shade[
]. A peat and moisture loving species, it requires a lime-free soil[
The plant can make a good nesting place for mice, these mice then eat the bark of the stems in winter causing die-back.
Grows well in a rock garden[
This species is closely allied to Gaultheria ovatifolia[
Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. Aromatic and delicious[
] with a flavour of wintergreen. Often used in preserves[
]. The red fruit is around 5 - 7mm in diameter[
Leaves - raw[
]. Used as a wayside nibble[
]. The young tender leaves are especially suited for use as greens[
]. They have a delicate flavour of wintergreen.
A tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves[
A ground cover plant for positions in the sun or light shade.
A black dye has been made from the plant[
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.