Herb: Alpine Wintergreen

Latin name: Gaultheria humifusa

Synonyms: Gaultheria myrsinites, Vaccinium humifusum

Family: Ericaceae (Heath Family)

Edible parts of Alpine Wintergreen:

Fruit - raw or cooked. Aromatic and delicious with a flavour of wintergreen. Often used in preserves. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter. Leaves - raw. Used as a wayside nibble. The young tender leaves are especially suited for use as greens. They have a delicate flavour of wintergreen. A tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves.

Description of the plant:


10 cm
(4 inches)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Moist alpine and sub-alpine slopes.

Other uses of Alpine Wintergreen:

A ground cover plant for positions in the sun or light shade. A black dye has been made from the plant.

Propagation of the herb:

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 20C, 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.

Cultivation of Alpine Wintergreen:

Moist alpine and sub-alpine slopes.

Medicinal use of the herb:

None known

Known hazards of Gaultheria humifusa:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.