Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

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Wikipedia

Gaultheria

Gaultheria is a genus of about 135 species of shrubs in the family Ericaceae.[1] The name commemorates Jean-François Gauthier of Quebec, an honour bestowed by the Scandinavian Pehr Kalm in 1748 and taken up by Carl Linnaeus in his Species Plantarum.[2] 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 there is no consistent reliable morphological or genetic difference to support recognition of two genera, and they are now united in the single genus Gaultheria.

Description[edit]

The species vary from low, ground-hugging shrubs less than 10 centimetres (3.9 in) tall, up to 2.5 metres (8 ft 2 in) tall, or, in the case of G. fragrantissima from the Himalaya, even a small tree up to 5–6 m (16–20 ft) tall. The leaves are evergreen, alternate (opposite in G. oppositifolia from New Zealand), simple, and vary between species from 3 millimetres (0.12 in) to 10 cm (3.9 in) long; the margins are finely serrated or bristly in most species, but entire in some. The flowers are solitary or in racemes, bell-shaped, with a five-lobed (rarely four-lobed) corolla;[1] flower colour ranges from white to pink to red. The fruit is a fleshy berry in many species, a dry capsule in some, with numerous small seeds.

Uses[edit]

Several species are grown as ornamental shrubs in gardens, particularly G. mucronata (Pernettya mucronata) from southern Chile and Argentina and G. shallon (Salal) from the Pacific Northwest of North America. Many of the smaller species are suitable for rock gardens. Like most other ericaceous plants, gaultheria does best in a peaty soil that never fully dries out.

The fruit of many Gaultheria species is edible, particularly that of salal, which makes an excellent jelly. One such, the American wintergreen or eastern teaberry, Gaultheria procumbens, is the traditional source of wintergreen flavouring; it is called the eastern teaberry because its leaves can be used to make a tea, and its berries can be eaten as are. The fruit of most other Gaultheria species is insipid in flavour and not extensively consumed.

One variety of G. leucocarpa shows anti-inflammatory properties and is used in Chinese herbal medicine for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis, swelling and pain.[3]

Species[edit]

As of March 2015, The Plant List recognises 141 species, including hybrids:[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Fang Ruizheng & Peter F. Stevens (2005). "Gaultheria Kalm ex Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 395. 1753; 白珠树属 bai zhu shu shu". In Wu Zhengyi, Peter H. Raven & D. Y. Hong. Apiaceae through Ericaceae. Flora of China 14. Beijing and St. Louis: Science Press and Missouri Botanical Garden Press. ISBN 9781930723412. 
  2. ^ Bernard Boivin (1974). "Gaultier, Jean-François". Dictionary of Canadian Biography 3. University of Toronto / Université Laval. Retrieved March 11, 2015. 
  3. ^ Dan Zhang, Rui Liu, Lan Sun, Chao Huang, Chao Wang, Dong-Ming Zhang, Tian-Tai Zhang and Guan-Hua Du (2011). "Anti-inflammatory activity of methyl salicylate glycosides isolated from Gaultheria yunnanensis (Franch.) Rehder". Molecules 16 (5): 3875–3884. doi:10.3390/molecules16053875. PMID 21555977. 
  4. ^ "Gaultheria". The Plant List. Retrieved March 11, 2015. 
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