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Useful Tropical Plants

Gaultheria leucocarpa

Blume

Ericaceae


A variable genus, five distinct varieties are recognized[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
].

+ Synonyms

Embelia vaniotii H.Lév.

Gaultheria crenulata Kurz

Gaultheria cumingiana S.Vidal

Gaultheria laxiflora Diels

Gaultheria psilocarpa Copel.

Gaultheria yunnanensis (Franch.) Rehd.

Vaccinium yunnanense Franch.

Common Name:

Gaultheria leucocarpa
Gaultheria leucocarpa Gaultheria leucocarpa

General Information

Gaultheria leucocarpa is an erect evergreen shrub growing 50 - 200cm tall.
The plant is harvested from the wild and used in local medicine. The var Gaultheria leucocarpa yunnanensis is widely used medicinally in southern China, where it is known as 'tou gu cao', for its rich content of salicylic acid[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
].

Known Hazards

The essential oil has GRAS (generally recognised as safe) status in America, when used in very small quantities[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. However, when it is taken in large amounts methyl salicylate (the main constituent of the oil) is toxic and causes problems similar to those caused by high doses of aspirin[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Range

E. Asia - southern China, through Indo-China to Indonesia and the Philippines

Habitat

Montane forest and in open, exposed places among brushwood or shrubs at 500 - 3,300 metres[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
,
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. It is fairly common on the margins of craters, steep slopes, on stony, volcanic or sometimes peaty and generally poor soils[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Shrub
Height1.50 m
PollinatorsInsects, Self
Self-fertileYes
Cultivation StatusWild

Cultivation Details

A plant of higher elevations in the tropics, found at elevations of 500 - 3,000 metres[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
].
Prefers a moist but not boggy humus rich soil in shade or semi-shade[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
]. A peat and moisture loving species, it requires a lime-free soil[
11
Title
Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement.
Publication
 
Author
Bean. W.
Publisher
Murray
Year
1981
ISBN
-
Description
A classic with a wealth of information on the plants, but poor on pictures.
].
Plants can flower and fruit all year round in the tropics[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
Gaultheria leucocarpa yunnanensis (Franch.) T.Z.Hsu & R. C. Fang is the form most utilized for its salicylic acid in China[
266
Title
Flora of China
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://flora.huh.harvard.edu/china/
Publisher
Missouri Botanical Garden Press; St. Louis.
Year
1994
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent, comprehensive resource in 25 volumes. In addition to the botanical information the flora also gives basic information on habitat and some uses. An on-line version is also available.
].
Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

Edible Uses

Fruit - raw or cooked[
177
Title
Plants for Human Consumption.
Publication
 
Author
Kunkel. G.
Publisher
Koeltz Scientific Books
Year
1984
ISBN
3874292169
Description
An excellent book for the dedicated. A comprehensive listing of Latin names with a brief list of edible parts.
]. The fruit is about 7mm in diameter[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

The leaves and flowers of several Gaultheria species yield wintergreen oil, which has an intensely sweet-aromatic, medicinal fragrance and flavour with a creamy-fruity top note and a sweet-woody dry-out. The oil was formerly used extensively to flavour drinks, its best known use is in root beers and cola drinks[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Other products flavoured with wintergreen oil are candies, chewing gum and toothpaste[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

A herbal tea is made from the fermented leaves[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Medicinal

A decoction of the rhizomes is used to resolve clots and bruising, stimulate blood circulation and promote bone-knitting and tissue repair[
147
Title
A Barefoot Doctors Manual.
Publication
 
Author
?
Publisher
Running Press; Philadelphica.
Year
1977
ISBN
0-914294-92-X
Description
A very readable herbal from China, combining some modern methods with traditional chinese methods.
]. It is used in the treatment of liver cirrhosis, ascites, traumatic injuries, rheumatoid arthritis and pains in the joints and back[
147
Title
A Barefoot Doctors Manual.
Publication
 
Author
?
Publisher
Running Press; Philadelphica.
Year
1977
ISBN
0-914294-92-X
Description
A very readable herbal from China, combining some modern methods with traditional chinese methods.
].

A leaf paste is applied externally to ease chest complaints, while in concoctions it is occasionally used as a prophylactic before and after childbirth[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. The leaves are used in traditional medicine to treat coughing, tuberculosis, fever and pain[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

The plant contains salicylic acid (the precursor to aspirin). This is known to have analgesic and antiinflammatory activity.
The main constituent of wintergreen oil is methyl salicylate, the oil from this species containing 96% methyl salicylate[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Most plant parts contain methyl salicylate or its precursors. Fresh leaves and flowers have hardly any odour, but the characteristic odour becomes apparent when they are crushed and stored for a short time. Methyl salicylate is then formed by hydrolysis of glycosides. The oil contains minute quantities of alcohols and ketones.

The leaves and flowers of several Gaultheria species yield wintergreen oil. It is used medicinally, either as the extracted oil or as an infusion of the plant, in the treatment of rheumatism, neuralgia, sciatica and cancer and also for its carminative and anthelmintic properties. It is a mild antiseptic in mouth care products, e.g. against toothache and sore throat. It is applied in ointments and liniments for its anti-irritant properties.

Other Uses

The leaves and flowers of several Gaultheria species yield wintergreen oil, which has an intensely sweet-aromatic, medicinal fragrance and flavour with a creamy-fruity top note and a sweet-woody dry-out[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. In perfumery, traces of wintergreen oil may add natural notes to e.g. ylang-ylang, tuberose, narcissus, lily and gardenia[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. It is now rarely used in perfumery, however, because a cheap synthetic form of its main chemical component, methyl salicylate, is available[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
The oil is used to enhance the smell of finely cut leaves of Pandanus amaryllifolius Roxb. (rampeh) and to perfume clothes[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
The oil is also a component of insecticidal and insect repellent preparations[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].
The essential oil is derived by steam distillation of the leaves[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
]. Prior to distillation the leaves are steeped in warm water to promote the enzymatic hydrolysis of glycosides to form methyl salicylate[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

The seeds are used in handicrafts[
310
Title
Plant Resources of Southeast Asia
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://proseanet.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Lots of information on the uses of the plants of SE Asia.
].

Propagation

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[
78
Title
Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers.
Publication
 
Author
Sheat. W. G.
Publisher
MacMillan and Co
Year
1948
ISBN
-
Description
A bit dated but a good book on propagation techniques with specific details for a wide range of plants.
]. The seed usually germinates well, usually within 1 - 2 months at 20°c, 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[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are about 25mm tall and grow them on in light shade until large enough to plant out.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood 3 - 6cm long, in a frame in a shady position. A good percentage usually take.
Division, preferably when doemant[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
]. Larger clumps can be replanted direct into their permanent positions, though it is best to pot up smaller clumps and grow them on until they are rooting well.
Layering.

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