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Chiogenes hispidula (L.) Torr. & Gray

Creeping Snowberry

Modern name

Gaultheria hispidula (L.) Muhl. ex Bigelow


Vaccinium hispidulum L.; C. serpyllifolia Salisb.; Gaultheria hispidula (L.) Muhl.

A creeping, evergreen shrub, the slender stems furnished with forward-pointing bristles. Leaves alternate, very abundant, 18 to 13 in. long, oval to nearly round, tapered at both ends, scarcely stalked; margins slightly decurved; glabrous and dark green above, pale beneath, and furnished with a few tiny, rust-coloured bristles. Flowers produced singly in the leaf-axils on short, decurved stalks; corolla 18 in. or less long, bell-shaped, deeply four-lobed, white; stamens eight; ovary half-inferior. Berry white, 13 in. across, roundish and rather bristly.

Native of N. America, from Newfoundland westward to British Columbia, and southward to N. Carolina; introduced in 1815. This plant is very rare in gardens, and the plant nearly always found under the name is one of the cranberries. These are nearly allied plants, but Chiogenes is abundantly distinct in leaf, flower, and especially the white berry. Out of flower the short, broad leaf and bristly young wood amply distinguish it. It has little garden value as an ornament, but is interesting. A moist, semi-boggy spot such as the cranberries love, should, if possible, be selected for it. The whole plant, including the berry, has an aromatic taste and odour, resembling that of Gaultheria procumbens. The Japanese species – C. japonica A. Gray – is closely allied to the American one. It is probably not in cultivation.



Other species in the genus

[No species article available]