Gaultheria Kalm ex L. (incl. Pernettya Gaudich.)

Gaultheria is a genus with about 135 species, mostly distributed in the Americas, eastern Asia, New Zealand and Australia. It is most diverse in Central and South America where ca. 58 species occur (Mabberley 2008). Other important centers of distribution are Malesia (Sleumer 1957) and China (Ruizheng & Stevens 2005).
Molecular data demonstrated that it is most closely related to Pernettya and several other vaccinioid taxa (Kron & al. 2002) with Pernettya better included in Gaultheria (Kron & al. 1999). Both genera only differ in berry characters (respectively a berry and a capsule). The existence of spontaneous hybrids between species of both genera [e.g. Gaultheria shallon Pursh × Pernettya mucronata (L.f.) Gaudich. ex Spreng.] also indicate their close relationship. Within Ericaceae the monophyly of the ‘Wintergreen Group’, containing the genera Diplycosia, Gaultheria and Tepuia, is strongly supported (Fritsch & al. 2011).
Many species of Gaultheria are cultivated as ornamentals in European gardens. The very extensive account of Middleton (1997) cites 44 species but rather few are more or less widespread in cultivation (e.g. Roloff & Bärtels 2006, de Koning & al. 2000). A single species, Gaultheria procumbens, has been recorded in the wild in Belgium.


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Taxonomic name: 
Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith