Arbutus rigida Bertero ex Colla
Pernettya bridgesii Phil.
Pernettya mucronata mutica Hook. & Arn.
Pernettya racemulosa DC.
Pernettya rigida (Bertero) DC.
Drawing of the plant - Fig E only (as Pernettya rigida)
Photograph by: Voyage au Pole Sud 1853
Gaultheria racemulosa is a low-growing, evergreen shrub, suckering to form a thicket of growth[
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food.
S. America - Juan Fernández Islands
Exposed and barren ridges, often forming low impenetrable thickets[
Gaultheria racemulosa is native to the Juan Fernández Islands of S. America. The climate there is subtropical Mediterranean, with only occasional frosts being experienced at the higher elevations. Annual rainfall varies from 318 - 1,698mm, averaging 1,081mm.
Prefers a cool moist but not boggy humus rich soil in shade or semi-shade[
]. A peat and moisture loving species, it requires a lime-free soil[
]. Plants are found in the wild in very windy situations[
Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[
A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if fruit and seed are required[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
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 when new growth is about 7cm tall. 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.