Herb: Creeping Snowberry

Latin name: Gaultheria japonica

Synonyms: Chiogenes hispidula japonica, Chiogenes japonica, Gaultheria hispidula japonica

Family: Ericaceae (Heath Family)

Medicinal use of Creeping Snowberry:

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.

Description of the plant:


10 cm
(4 inches)

May to

Habitat of the herb:

Mossy grounds under conifers at elevations of 1600 - 2000 metres.

Edible parts of Creeping Snowberry:

Fruit - raw or cooked. Pleasantly acid and refreshing, with a delicate flavour of wintergreen. An agreeable sub-acid taste, similar to G. shallon. They can be made into delicious preserves. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter. Leaves - raw or cooked. The leaves are used to make a tea. A mild flavour of wintergreen. Said to be superior to china tea.

Other uses of the herb:

A useful fast growing ground cover plant for shady positions.

Propagation of Creeping Snowberry:

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 the herb:

Mossy grounds under conifers at elevations of 1600 - 2000 metres.

Known hazards of Gaultheria japonica:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.