Alpine Wintergreen Gaultheria cuneata

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Hard-care
cuneate wintergreen


The plant in question is commonly known as the alpine wintergreen. This plant is known for its dense, low-growing and ground-covering characteristics. Its leaves are typically small, leathery, and shaped like a wedge or a broad triangle with slightly serrated edges. They possess a glossy surface that tends to be a deep green shade, often with a reddish tinge, especially during the colder months which adds a touch of color to the winter landscape. The alpine wintergreen also bears dainty, bell-shaped flowers that are attractive and white, sometimes showing a pinkish hue. These flowers hang delicately from the short stems, appearing singularly or in small clusters. Following the blooming period, the plant produces small, round berries that are usually bright red or sometimes a deep shade of pink. These berries can add a decorative element to the plant and often persist through the winter, providing a contrast against snow and the evergreen foliage. The overall growth form of the alpine wintergreen gives it a compact, mounded appearance. The branches are slender and may spread out, creating a mat-like presence on the ground. When bruised or crushed, the leaves of the alpine wintergreen release a pleasant, forthright aroma reminiscent of wintergreen or mint, which is a characteristic trait of the plant. This fragrance, along with its evergreen nature, makes the alpine wintergreen an appealing choice for gardeners looking to add year-round interest and ground cover to their gardens, without concern for the actual dimensions of the plant.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Alpine Spicy Wintergreen, Alpine Waxberry, Cuneate-Leaf Checkerberry

    • Common names

      Gaultheria cuneata.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Gaultheria cuneata, commonly known as Alpine wintergreen or Snowberry, is not frequently cited as a toxic plant to humans. However, plants in the Gaultheria genus generally contain methyl salicylate, which is similar to aspirin. If ingested in large quantities, this can potentially lead to salicylate poisoning. The symptoms of such poisoning might include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, abdominal pain, and in severe cases, respiratory alkalosis or metabolic acidosis, which could be life-threatening. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid ingesting parts of this plant, especially in large amounts.

    • To pets

      Gaultheria cuneata, also known as Alpine wintergreen or Snowberry, might pose a risk to pets if ingested because it can contain methyl salicylate, which is toxic. Methyl salicylate overdose in pets can lead to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, difficulty breathing, and in severe cases, seizures, or even death. Pets should not be allowed to ingest any part of this plant due to the potential for poisoningsimilar to the effects of aspirin overdose. If you suspect your pet has ingested Snowberry, contact your veterinarian immediately.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      6 inches (15 cm)

    • Spread

      12 inches (30 cm)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area



  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Ornamental Value: Gaultheria cuneata, commonly known as White-leaf Waxberry, is appreciated for its aesthetic appeal. It can provide visual interest in gardens and landscapes.
    • Wildlife Attraction: The plant can attract birds and pollinators, acting as a food source and providing habitat support.
    • Low Maintenance: White-leaf Waxberry is known to require minimal care, making it suitable for gardeners who prefer low maintenance plants.
    • Drought Tolerance: The plant is generally tolerant of drought conditions once established, meaning it can survive with less water than some other plants.
    • Cold Resistance: White-leaf Waxberry can withstand colder temperatures, making it a good choice for gardens in cooler climates.
    • Ground Cover: Its growth habit can provide effective ground cover, helping to reduce soil erosion and suppress weed growth.
    • Edible Fruit: The plant produces edible berries that can be used in cooking and baking, though this may be less common and often not the primary reason for cultivation.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Gaultheria cuneata, commonly known as alpine wintergreen, can be used in landscaping as ground cover due to its low-growing habit and attractive foliage that offers visual interest in garden designs.
    • Its berries and leaves can be infused in oil to create fragrant potpourri or scented sachets that provide a natural pine-like fragrance to drawers, closets, and rooms.
    • The alpine wintergreen's leaves can be dried and used to craft natural wreaths and decorative elements, taking advantage of their persistent green color and pleasant aroma.
    • Native to certain areas, the plant can be integrated into ecological restoration projects where it contributes to rebuilding and stabilizing native plant communities.
    • The essential oils derived from alpine wintergreen can be used as a flavoring agent for candies and certain beverages, providing a wintergreen taste.
    • Due to its attractiveness to certain birds and small mammals, alpine wintergreen can be a beneficial addition to wildlife gardens aimed at supporting local ecosystems.
    • Its evergreen leaves provide winter interest in the garden, presenting a splash of green during the colder months when most other plants have died back or gone dormant.
    • In colder climates, the alpine wintergreen is sometimes used in Christmas decorations for its festive, aromatic foliage and red berries.
    • The bright red berries of the alpine wintergreen can be used as a natural dye, providing a subtle color to fabrics and crafts.
    • Cultivating alpine wintergreen can serve as an educational tool for botany or gardening classes, illustrating plant growth and adaptations in alpine or subalpine environments.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Gaultheria cuneata is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Gaultheria cuneata is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Healing: Many Gaultheria species, commonly known as wintergreens, have leaves that contain medicinal properties, particularly their ability to relieve pain. Therefore, Gaultheria cuneata, sharing the family's characteristics, may symbolize healing.
    • Resilience: Gaultheria cuneata, given its ability to thrive in challenging environments, can represent the capacity to endure and persist through difficult conditions.
    • Protection: The evergreen nature of the wintergreen plants, which Gaultheria cuneata is a part of, symbolizes constancy and protection throughout the year.

Every 1-2 weeks
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every 2-3 years
Spring-Early Summer
Not needed
  • water dropWater

    Also known as Chinese wintergreen, Gaultheria cuneata should be kept consistently moist but not waterlogged. Water the plant thoroughly whenever the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch, which may be roughly once a week depending on the environment. Typically, this can equate to about 16 ounces for a smaller indoor pot or up to 2 gallons for a larger outdoor shrub every week during active growth periods in spring and summer. Reduce watering in the fall and winter when the plant's growth slows down, always checking the soil moisture before adding water to prevent overwatering.

  • sunLight

    Chinese wintergreen thrives in partial shade to filtered sunlight. It is best to place the plant in a location where it can receive bright but indirect light for the majority of the day. Avoid direct sunlight, which can scorch the leaves of this plant, especially during the hot summer months. A spot with morning sun and afternoon shade is often ideal for maintaining the health and vibrant color of the foliage.

  • thermometerTemperature

    The ideal temperature range for Chinese wintergreen is between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. This plant can tolerate temperatures down to about 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but it should be protected from frost to prevent damage. High temperatures above 80 degrees Fahrenheit can stress the plant, so ensure it has adequate shade and moisture during hot weather.

  • scissorsPruning

    Prune Chinese wintergreen to maintain its shape and encourage fuller growth. Light pruning can be done at any time, but major pruning should be performed in early spring before new growth starts. Snip off any dead or damaged branches and trim the plant to the desired size and shape. This may be needed once or twice a year, depending on the plant's growth rate and the gardener's aesthetic preferences.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    Cushion Bush prefers acidic to slightly acidic soil, with an ideal pH range of 5.5 to 6.5. The best soil mix for Cushion Bush is one part peat moss, one part perlite, and one part well-draining potting soil. This combination ensures aeration, moisture retention, and drainage—key elements for its health.

  • plantRepotting

    Cushion Bush does not need frequent repotting and can be repotted every 2-3 years, or when it outgrows its container. It's important to use a similar acidic soil mix during each repotting to maintain plant health.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Cushion Bush thrives in moderate to high humidity environments. Aim for a relative humidity around 50-60% for optimal growth of the plant. Avoid placing it near dry heat sources and consider using a humidifier if necessary.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Keep Cushion Bush in bright, indirect light and high humidity.

    • Outdoor

      Plant in partial shade, keep soil moist, and shelter from harsh sun.

    • Hardiness zone

      6-9 USDA

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-Early Summer

    • Gaultheria cuneata, commonly known as Alpine Winterberry, is typically propagated by taking semi-hardwood cuttings during the summer months. To do this, a healthy, mature plant is selected, and cuttings of about 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 centimeters) long are taken from semi-hardwood stems. The leaves on the lower half of the cutting are removed, and the cut end can be treated with a rooting hormone to encourage root development. The cuttings are then inserted into a well-draining soil mix, ensuring that at least two sets of leaf nodes are below the surface of the mixture. The container with the cuttings is kept in a warm, humid environment with indirect light to facilitate rooting, a process that can take several weeks. Once the cuttings have rooted and start to show new growth, they can be gradually acclimated to outside conditions and planted out when they are large enough to handle.