Prickly Heath Seeds (Gaultheria mucronata)
Price for Package of 10 seeds.
This pretty little shrub came to Ireland from southern Chile and Argentina. In its homeland it is one of the dominant plants which grow above the tree line. It is a bushy, evergreen plant which can grow to 120 m high. Gaultheria are evergreen, often dioecious, shrubs with simple, leathery leaves and small, bell-shaped white or pink flowers, followed by long lasting fleshy fruits in various colours.
G. mucronata is a bushy evergreen shrub with small, sharply pointed dark green leaves and tiny nodding, bell-shaped white flowers followed, on pollinated female plants, by showy red, white, or pink berries
Gaultheria mucronata, known as prickly heath and in Chilean Spanish as chaura, syn. Pernettya mucronata, is a species of flowering plant in the family Ericaceae, native to southern Argentina and Chile.
It is a compact, bushy, evergreen shrub with glossy green leaves and solitary white flowers in spring, followed in autumn by showy globose berries up to 1.5 cm in diameter, in shades from deep plum purple through pink to pure white. It is dioecious, meaning that both male and female plants must be grown together in order to produce fruit. It prefers moist, shaded conditions.
Its fruits are edible when ripe, they are sweet and juicy but somewhat tasteless, hence useful as survival food. In volcanic areas of southern Chile Gaultheria mucronata is one of the dominant plant species above the tree line.
Fruit is a berry that can be consumed, raw or cooked. It is juicy and almost melts in the mouth.
Propagation - SOWING ADVICE
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.