Arbutus furiens Hook.
Gaultheria furiens (Hook. & Arn.) Hook. & Arn.
Hippomanica insana Molina
Pernettya furiens (Hook. & Arn.) Klotzsch
Pernettya insane (Molina) Gunckel
Pernettya melanocarpa Phil.
Pernettya punctata (Hook. & Arn.) Klotzsch
Pernettya vernalis (Poepp. & Endl.) Phil.
Gaultheria insana is an evergreen shrub usually growing 60 - 120cm tall[
The leaves, fruits and the nectar from the flowers contain the toxin andromedotoxin. When consumed in quantity they can cause a sensation of drunkenness, together with watering of the mouth, eyes, and nose; a sensation of cold; abdominal pain; tingling of the skin; convulsions; and paralysis. They can be fatal[
S. America - S. Chile, Argentina.
Open fields or clearings in woods[
Gaultheria insana is slightly tender in Britain and does not succeed in the colder parts of the country[
Prefers a cool moist but not boggy humus rich soil in sun or semi-shade[
]. A peat and moisture loving species, it requires a lime-free soil[
]. Prefers full sun but tolerates light shade[
Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[
Most members of this genus have more or less edible fruits, but it is unwise to eat the fruits of this species. See below under medical uses for more information.
The fruits cause intoxication when consumed[
]. The person becomes confused, often suffers delirium and, if the fruit is taken in excess, a permanent mental condition that mimics insanity can be caused[
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.