Herbs & Plants

Gaultheria hispida

Botanical Name: Gaultheria hispida
Family: Ericaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales
Genus: Gaultheria

Common Names:Snowberry or Copperleaf snowberry

Habitat: Gaultheria hispida is native to Australia – Tasmania.. It grows on the mountains to 1200 metres. Usually in wet eucalyptus forests in the montane and sub-alpine zone

Gaultheria hispida is a small, erect multi-branched shrub that can grow up to 2 m (6 ft 7 in) in a protected site, such as a forest, but will be smaller in more exposed alpine sites. It is in leaf all year, in flower from May to June. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects. Its leaves grow to be 4–9 cm (1.6–3.5 in) long and appear dark green and glossy with depressed veins and finely serrated leaf margins, tinged copper. Stems are usually red with terminal clusters of small white, urn-shaped flowers at its apex. The plant flowers in Spring through Summer followed by distinctive snowy white sepals enclosing reddish capsules or “fruit” in Autumn. The fruit is about 8 – 10mm wide.


Suitable for: light (sandy) and medium (loamy) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils. 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. Prefers a warmer climate than Britain in order to do really well, but it is quite hardy here. It is sometimes temperamental in cultivation. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland).

Gaultheria hispida can be easily propagated from cuttings or seeds, making it a favourable garden plant. 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, 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:
The fruit of G. hispida are edible and have bitter taste. They were commonly collected by Tasmanian Aboriginal People as bushfood and were eaten by early settlers. Other members of the genus Gaultheria have been used to make teas and jellies, and even claimed to have natural anti-inflammatory properties.

Medicinal Uses: The plant is said to remove the cancerous taint from the body. An infusion of the leaves has been used as a tonic for a person who has overeaten.

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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