Did you know that when Gaultheria mucronata blooms in sping, it still has a good load of the previous year's berries on all the branches?
Prickly Heath - Gaultheria mucronata
Gaultheria is a genus of about 135 species of shrubs in the family Ericaceae. These plants are native to
Asia, Australasia and North and South America. In the past, the Southern Hemisphere species were often treated as the separate genus
Pernettya, but no consistent reliable morphological or genetic differences support recognition of two
genera, and they are now united in the single genus Gaultheria.
The genus Pernettya was designated by a French botanist, Charles
Gaudichaud-Beaupe, in 1825 to honor Antoine J. Pernetty, author of Bougianville's voyage to South
America. The genus Gaultheria was created earlier, in 1735, by C. Linnaeus to honor
Dr. Gaultier, a physician of Quebec City. Some 200 years later in a review of the two genera several hybrids of Gaultheria and Pernettya were
described, however, the authors did not suggest uniting the two genera, believing that more study was
needed. In 1990 a thorough study of the two genera was published and the authors concluded that Pernettya should not be maintained as a separate
genus. This has resulted in Pernettya being merged into Gaultheria, and the former intergeneric hybrids designated ÷-Gaultheria are now included in Gaultheria.
However, in the nursery trade the Pernettya designation is still frequently used.