Common Name: Mountain Checkerberry
Gaultheria ovatifolia is an evergreen shrub with decumbent stems; growing 15 - 30cm tall from a rhizomatous rootstock, it forms a spreading clump[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, It is sometimes grown as an ornamental, where it can be used as a ground cover.
Western N. America - British Columbia, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and California.
Relatively dry, mixed hardwood and coniferous forests, damp streamsides and moist soils, rocky slopes; at elevations from 300 - 1,600 metres[
].Various habitats from fairly dry yellow pine forests to sub-alpine bogs[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Prefers a moist but not boggy humus rich soil in shade or semi-shade[
]. This species prefers considerable shade[
]. A peat and moisture loving species, it requires a lime-free soil[
Closely related to Gaultheria humifusa[
Reputed to be rather difficult in cultivation[
], it does not grow well in southern England[
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[
]. Very spicy and delicious[
]. The bright red fruit is around 5 - 7mm in diameter[
A useful ground cover for shady places.
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, 7cm with a heel, mid summer in a shady frame. Rather slow, it usually takes 12 months for the roots to form[
Division in early spring. 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.
Layering in September/early autumn. Takes 12 months.