Gaultheria antipoda depressa (Hook.f.) Hook.f.
Common Name: Mountain Snowberry
Gaultheria depressa is a creeping, mat-forming, evergreen shrub with much-branched, interlacing stems that root as they grow; the plant is seldom more than 10cm tall[
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.
Australia - Tasmania, to New Zealand
Montane to alpine zone in open places in grassland, herbfield and boggy land; at elevations up to 1,800 metres, in North South and Stewart Islands from 39° southwards[
|Other Uses Rating
Gaultheria depressa is found at elevations up to 1,800 metres on South Island in New Zealand and should be fairly cold tolerant. It has only proved to be hardy in very mild regions, it is not very winter-tolerant in Britain and also tends to be short-lived in cultivation[
Prefers a moist but not boggy humus rich soil in sun or semi-shade[
]. A peat and moisture loving species, it requires a lime-free soil[
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[
]. Sweet and juicy but apt to become rather dry later in the season[
]. The capsule is 3 - 4mm in diameter, surrounded by an enlarged, fleshy, white or red calyx that can be up to 16mm in diameter[
A ground-cover for areas in sun or light shade.
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.