Herb latin name: Gaultheria mucronata
Synonyms: Arbutus mucronata, Pernettya mucronata, Pernettya speciosa
Family: Ericaceae (Heath Family)
Edible parts of Gaultheria mucronata:Fruit - raw or cooked. The lilac-coloured fruit does not look tremendously edible, and the texture is somewhat like polystyrene - but it is juicy, almost melts in the mouth, has a very pleasant slightly sweet flavour and makes a very good dessert fruit. The fruit is up to 12mm in diameter.
Description of the plant:
Habitat of the herb:Open wet Nothfagus and Drimys forest, dominant or co-dominant with Chiliotrichum in shrub communities fringing forests above high water mark and in transition to swamps and bogs from sea level to 700m
Other uses of Gaultheria mucronata:The plant can be used to make a low hedge. A good ground cover plant for a sunny position, forming dense thickets. They are best spaced about 60cm apart each way. Plants can be cut back in the spring if they are becoming too lanky and open in growth.
Propagation of the herb:The seed requires a period of cold stratification. Pre-chill for 4 - 10 weeks and surface sow in a lime-free compost in a shady part of the greenhouse and keep moist. The seed usually germinates well, usually within 1 - 2 months at 20°C, but the seedlings are liable to damp off. Watering them with care and making sure they get ample ventilation will reduce this risk. Watering them with a garlic infusion can help to prevent damping off. 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 and so it might be wise to give them some protection in their first spring or two outdoors. 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. "Drop" the plants 12 months earlier by digging them up and replanting them deeper in the soil so that the branches are buried and can form roots. This works best in a sandy soil. It is best to pot up the divisions and grow them on in a lightly shaded position in the greenhouse until they are established. Plant them out in the summer. Layering in September/October. Takes 12 months.
Cultivation of Gaultheria mucronata:Open wet Nothfagus and Drimys forest, dominant or co-dominant with Chiliotrichum in shrub communities fringing forests above high water mark and in transition to swamps and bogs from sea level to 700m
Medicinal use of the herb:None known
Known hazards of Gaultheria mucronata:None known
Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.