Ancistrum barbatum Lam.
Empetrum pinnatum Lam.
Margyricarpus imberbis C.Presl
Margyricarpus laevis Willd.
Margyricarpus setosus Ruiz & Pav.
Common Name: Pearl Berry
Photograph by: Sten
Margyricarpus pinnatus is a low-growing evergreen shrub that generally sprawls along the ground rooting as it goes. It can reach a height of 30cm, but is often lower.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and a medicine. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental, where it can be used to form a ground cover.
S. America - Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, southern Brazil,, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile.
Sterile and arid lands, mainly in the coastal zone of Chile. Grassland and coastal forest in southern Brazil.
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Margyricarpus pinnatus is found in the mediterranean-type climate of Chile where it grows at elevations from sea level up to 2,000 metres in coastal mountains, and also at moderate elevations in tropical South America. The summers in Chile are hot and mainly dry and the winters are cool and moist. The dry season can last for 3 - 5 months and the rainfall is within the range 400 - 800mm. The plant is not very cold-hardy, but can tolerate short periods with temperatures falling to around -5°c[
]. It succeeds at higher elevations in the tropics and at lower elevations in the subtropics and warm temperate areas.
Prefers a lime-free soil that is not too rich[
], with some shade at the hottest part of the day[
]. Requires a sunny position and a well-drained soil[
]. Requires a sheltered position[
Plants are low-growing and have done very well in our exposed maritime site in Cornwall[
This species is said to be hardy to about -5°c[
]. It is our opinion that the plants are hardier than this[
], they have grown outdoors in many parts of Britain that experience colder winters, and have survived all but very severe winters[
The plants do not fruit well in cool wet summers[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. Pleasant but mild with a slightly acid flavour[
]. The fruit can hang on the plant for a long time in good condition if it is not eaten by birds etc[
]. The fruit is a small white berry about 7mm in diameter with a single seed[
]. Very attractive to look at, but the flavour is very mild and you need to spend quite a while picking just to get one mouthful[
]. Children really love the fuit, however, and this makes it an ideal plant to get them out of your hair for a while. Simply tell them that they can have as much of the fruit as they want and they will be there for half an hour or more picking it[
An infusion of the herb, according to one report[
], or a decoction of the leaves according to another[
] is used as a diuretic in the treatment of various disorders[
The aerial parts of the plant are widely used in folk medicine for their antiinflammatory and antiviral properties[
A decoction of the fresh flowers is drunk as a relaxant and to treat stomach pain and hepatic pain[
The plant can be used as a ground cover in poorer soils[
Seed - sow late winter or early spring in a greenhouse[
]. The seed can be rather slow to germinate and probably needs a short period of cold stratification[
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. When the plants are large enough, plant them out in late spring or early summer and consider giving them some protection from the cold for their first winter outdoors[
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 4 - 5 cm with a heel, mid summer in a frame[