Botanical Name: Gaultheria fragrantissima
Synonyms: Gaultheria ovalifolia.
Common Names : Fragrant Wintergreen, Indian Wintergreen (English). Gandhupura (in hindi)
Habitat: Gaultheria fragrantissima is native to E. Asia – N. India to Sri Lanka and Malaya. It grows in the forests and shrubberies, usually on dry slopes, at elevations of 1200 – 2700 metres in the Himalayas.
Gaultheria fragrantissima is an evergreen Shrub growing to 1 m (3ft 3in). It is a robust shrub with ovate-lanceshaped evergreen leaves, and with numerous spike-like clusters of small fragrant white or pink globular flowers. Flower clusters are 2.5-8 cm long, shorter than the leaves. Flowers are short-stalked, 4 x 3 mm wide. Leaves are pointed, 5-10 cm long, smooth above, margins are bristly-toothed. It is a branched shrub up to 1.75 m tall. Berries are 6 mm, with dark violet-blue fleshy pointed sepals. Fragrant Wintergreen is found in the Himalayas, from Uttarakhand to SE Tibet and Myanmar, at altitudes of 1500-2700 m. Flowering occurs in April-May.
The bruised leaves have a powerful camphor-like scent. The flowers are scented like lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis). This species is highly variable in the size and shape of leaves. In general these varieties are the result of habitat differences. If in forest understories or at forest margins, it is a large shrub or small tree with large leaves. If on sunny slopes or among thickets, it is often a small shrub with narrow leaves.
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 full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil. Prefers a moist but not boggy humus rich soil in shade or semi-shade. A peat and moisture loving species, it requires a lime-free soil. This species is not very hardy in Britain, it only succeeds outdoors in the milder areas of the country. It grows well in Cornwall. 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. 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.
Fruits are edible , eaten – raw or cooked. The purplish-blue fruit is about 8mm in diameter. Leaves are also eaten – raw. Chewed (to relieve thirst?). An essential oil obtained from the leaves is used as a flavouring. A tea is made from the leaves.
The essential oil obtained from the leaves is antiseptic, aromatic, carminative and stimulant. It is used in the treatment of rheumatism, scabies and neuralgia. It is also taken internally in the treatment of hook worms. The juice of the leaves is used in the treatment of coughs. Both the juice and the whole leaves are usd as an anthelmintic that is effective against hookworms. The unripe fruits are chewed or made into a juice to treat stomach troubles.
Chemical composition – The essential oil is nearly 98% methyl salicylate (powerful analgesic). It may also contain contain triacontane, formaldehyde, gaultheriline and varies other aldehydes, ketones, and alcohols.
Properties – Powerful analgesic, antiseptic, emmenagogue, antibacterial, stimulant, anti-arthritic and anti-rheumatic, anti-spasmodic, dermoprotective, detoxifier, diuretic, stimulates proper blood circulation, maintains proper functioning of gall bladder, liver, kidneys, endocrinal glands, digestive system, excretory system natural emmenagogue.
Recommendation – Chronic rheumatism and arthritis, muscular pains, lower back pain, achy joints and inflammation, all kinds of spasms in the respiratory system, digestive system, nervous system, circulatory system and muscles, respiratory disorders like asthma, chest congestion, breathing problems and spasmodic coughs. Skin infections, bladder infections, hypertension, edema, obesity, irregular menstruation, uterine ulcers, dysmennorhea, blocked menses, pain in the pelvic region, hair fall, hemorrhages, fatigue, vomiting and stress related to menstruation.
Other Uses: The leaves yield around 1.25% of an essential oil, this is a wintergreen substitute and it is used in perfumery, as a hair oil and medicinally.
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.