Herbs & Plants

Gaultheria depressa

Botanical Name: Gaultheria depressa
Family: Ericaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales
Genus: Gaultheria
Species: G. depressa
Synonyms: G. antipoda depressa.
Common Names: Mountain snow berry or Alpine wax berry
Habitat: Gaultheria depressa is native to rocky area of Australia – Tasmania, to New Zealand. It grows on montane to alpine zone in open places in grassland, herbfield and boggy land up to 1800 metres, in North South and Stewart Islands from 39° southwards.

In Australia, Gaultheria depressa is a prostrate shrub 10 to 20 cm (4 to 8 in) high and 50 to 150 cm (19.5 to 59 in) across. It grows larger in New Zealand.It is in leaf all year. The small leaves can be oval or round and measure 0.5 to 1 cm (0.20 to 0.39 in) in length and have serrate margins. The small white tubular flowers appear from September to January and are followed by white or red fruit which is around 1 cm (0.39 in) in diameter. The berries are edible. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.


Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.
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. Plants are not very hardy in Britain and tend to be short-lived in cultivation. 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.
Through seeds. 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[78]. 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[K]. 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, July/August 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. Layering.

Edible Uses: Fruits are edible: Eaten – raw or cooked. Sweet and juicy but apt to become rather dry later in the season. The fruit is about 8 – 15mm in diameter.

Medicinal Uses: Gaultheria is known for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. It is particularly effective against muscle, ligament and joint inflammations.
Other Uses: A ground-cover for areas in sun or light shade.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

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