New York Metropolitan Flora

Gaultheria hispidula (L.) Muhl. - Creeping Snowberry

Native , Rare

By Steven Clemants

Not peer reviewed

Last Modified 01/23/2012

Back to Gaultheria

Gaultheria hispidula
This species was last recorded in our area in 1961.

Common Names

Creeping Snowberry

Field Identification

A prostrate subshrub with small elliptic leaves and white fruit.

Food uses

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for reference and historical use. We do not recommend nor do we condone the use of this species for food purposes without first consulting a physician.

(Hedrick, 1972) (Uphof, 1968)

The berries are eaten fresh, with cream and sugar and made into a preserve. Many northern tribes made a beverage from the leaves, sweetened with maple sugar.

Medicinal uses

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for reference and historical use. We do not recommend nor do we condone the use of this species for medicinal purposes without first consulting a physician.

(Hare et al., 1905)

This species is a rich source of methyl salicylate or oil of wintergreen. Oil of wintergreen has been used as an antiseptic, analgesic, flavoring agent, and carminative.


Common names

Creeping Snowberry

Moxie

Moxieplum

Oeufs de Perdrix

Pearlberry

Poisonous properties

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for reference and historical use. If you believe you have been poisoned, please contact the Poison Control Office near you (look for the number in the front of the phone book).

(Hare et al., 1905)

Overdoses of oil of wintergreen can be toxic.

Nomenclature

*Vaccinium hispidulum L., Sp. Pl. 1: 352. 1753. *Arbutus filiformis Lam., Encycl. 1: 228. 1783, nom. illeg. (Art. 52.1). *Oxycoccus hispidulus (L.) Pers., Syn. Pl. 1: 419. 1805. *Gaultheria serpyllifolia Pursh, Fl. Amer. Sept. 1: 283, t. 13. 1814 nom. illeg. (Art. 52.1). ¤Chiogenes serpyllifolia (Pursh) Salisb., Trans. Hort. Soc. London 2: 94. 1817, nom. illeg. (Art. 52.1). *Gaultheria hispidula (L.) Muhl., Cat. Pl. Amer. Sept., ed. 2, 44. 1818. *Schollera hispidula (L.) Steud., Nomencl. Bot. 1: 746. 1821, nom. illeg. (Art. 52.1). *Phalerocarpus serpyllifolia (Pursh) G. Don, Gen. Hist. 3: 841. 1834, nom. illeg. (Art. 52.1). *Lasierpa hispidula (L.) Torr., [Annual Rep. Geol. Surv. 1839] State of New York, Documents of Assembly no. 50: 152. 1840, nom. illeg. (Art. 52.1). *Chiogenes hispidula (L.) Torr. & A. Gray, ex Torr., Fl. New York. 1: 450, t. 68. 1843. *Glyciphylla hispidula (L.) Raf. ex B.D. Jacks., Index Kew. 1: 1039. 1893, nom. inval. (Art. 34.1c). TYPE: Type not designated, apparently three elements.

*Arbutus thymifolia Aiton, Hort. Kew. 2: 72. 1789. TYPE: Location and collector unknown (Holotype: BM?).

Description

HABIT perennial, evergreen, hemicryptophyte, subshrubs, autotrophic, monoclinous, with adventitious roots or with fibrous roots, 0.03-0.05 m tall, not modified.

STEMS repent, round, not winged, "regular". Prickles absent. Bark striate, not exfoliating, orange-red or dark orange-red. Branches ascending (or flat on the ground), orange-red or dark orange-red, round, not winged, 0.5-0.7 mm in diam. Twigs orange-red or dark orange-red or reddish orange or dark reddish orange, odoriferous, round, 0.5-0.7 mm in diam., smooth, hairs long and unbranched, appressed, multicellular, multiseriate, orange-yellow, moderately dense, throughout, not glabrescent, without glands. Pith present, light orange-yellow, round, continuous, nodal diaphragm absent. Thorns absent. Aerial roots absent. Sap translucent. Resin absent.

LEAVES alternate, 1 per node, spaced ± evenly along stem, divergent from stem, simple. Stipules absent. Leaves petiolate or leaves sessile, petiole "typical", 0.05-0.07 cm long, hairs long and unbranched, appressed, multicellular, multiseriate, moderately dense, throughout, not glabrescent, without glands. Leaf: abaxial surface light greenish yellow or light yellowish green, adaxial surface dark yellow or dark greenish yellow, blades elliptic or widely elliptic, revolute only at margin, symmetric, 0.3-0.8 cm long, 0.2-0.7 cm wide, coriaceous, base acute, margin ciliate, apex acute, abaxial surface hairs long and unbranched, appressed, multicellular, multiseriate, yellowish orange or light orange-yellow, sparse, throughout, not glabrescent, without glands, adaxial surface glabrous, without glands. Hyphodromous venation, veins 0. Leaf lobes absent. Spines absent.Tendrils absent.

INFLORESCENCES monomorphic, regular or, if dimorphic, female inflorescence simple, single flower, axillary. Peduncle present, 0.05-0.23 cm long. Rachis absent, with bracts. Bracts sessile, blades: abaxial surface light greenish yellow or light yellowish green, adaxial surface dark yellow or dark greenish yellow, elliptic or widely elliptic, revolute only at margin, 3-8 mm long, 2-7 mm wide, base acute, margin ciliate, apex acute, abaxial surface hairs long and unbranched, abaxial hairs appressed, multicellular, multiseriate, orange-yellow, sparse, throughout, not glabrescent, without glands, adaxial surface hairs long and unbranched, appressed, multiseriate, orange-yellow, sparse, throughout, not glabrescent, without glands. Bracteoles 2, sessile, at apex of pedicel, connate, bracteoles: abaxial surface yellowish green, bracteole: adaxial surface yellowish green, widely depressed ovate or depressed ovate, curved, 1.5-1.8 mm long, 2.1 mm wide, base truncate, margin entire, apex acute. Cupules absent.

FLOWERS serotinous, formed on short shoots, monomorphic, with sepals and petals readily distinguishable from one another, bisexual, 4-merous, 3-3.1 mm long, 2.1-3.5 mm wide, 1 flowers per inflorescence, perianth of two whorls. Calyx present, actinomorphic, crateriform, of fused sepals, persistent, abaxial and adaxial surfaces the same color, 3.1 mm long, 2.2-3.1 mm wide, fused to the ovary, accrescent in fruit. Sepals or sepal lobes 4, depressed ovate or very shallowly triangular, 0.6-1.6 mm long, 0.9-1.5 mm wide, base truncate, margin entire, apex acute, abaxial surface glabrous, without glands, adaxial surface hairs long and unbranched, appressed, multicellular, multiseriate, yellowish orange, sparse, basally, not glabrescent, without glands. Epicalyx absent. Corolla present, actinomorphic, campanulate, of fused petals, deciduous, abaxial and adaxial surfaces the same color, 2.5 mm long, 3 mm wide. Petals or petal lobes "normal", 1 mm long, margin entire. Gynoecium syncarpous. Carpels 4. Stigmas 1, capitate. Styles persistent, 1, 0.7-1.1 mm long. Ovary semi-inferior, nectiferous disk present. Locules 4. Placentation axile. Androecium obdiplostemonous. Stamens 8, 0.6-1 mm long. Opening by pores, bithecal, glabrous, awned, two awns. Filaments free, glabrous. Staminodes absent.

FRUIT an acrosarcum (the fruit is a circumscissile capsule surrounded by a white, fleshy, accrescent calyx), white, globose, 2.6-6 mm long, 3-5 mm wide, hairs long and unbranched, appressed, multicellular, multiseriate, light orange-yellow, sparse, throughout, not glabrescent, without glands.

SEEDS many, light orange-yellow or orange-yellow, irregularly wedge-shaped, 0.7-1 mm long, 0.5-0.7 mm wide, wingless, not tailed, lineolate or lineate.

Habitat

(Wherry, 1920) (Wherry, 1920)

Cedar swamps and spruce bogs. Moist and occasionally dry upland peat and wet sphagnum with a pH of 4.5-5.5.

Rarity Status

Heritage global rank -- G5

Connecticut -- threatened

New Jersey -- endangered (Heritage rank: S1)

New York -- not listed

Species Biology

Flowering

Unknown.

Pollination

(Middleton, 1991)

Autogamy.

Fruiting

July [week 3].

Dispersal

(Krefting & Roe, 1949)

Endozoochory -- The fruit is eaten by chipmunks and deer mice.

Germination

Unknown.