Gaultheria japonica bears a close resemblance to Gaultheria hispidula (L.) Bigelow of N. America and sometimes treated as a variety or subspecies of the latter. Gaultheria japonica, however, has 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[
Chiogenes hispidula japonica (A.Gray) T.Shimizu
Chiogenes japonica A.Gray
Common Name: Creeping Snowberry
Gaultheria japonica is an evergreen shrub with slender, loosely-branched, prostrate stems 20 - 60cm long[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and a medicine. Sometimes grown as an ornamental, it can be used tp provide ground cover.
E. Asia - central and northern Japan.
Mossy grounds under conifers; at elevations from 1,600 - 2,000 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[
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.
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 6 - 10mm 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.