Monographs Details: Gaultheria
Authority: Maguire, Bassett. 1978. The botany of the Guayana Highland--part X. Mem. New York Bot. Gard. 29: 1-288.
Discussion:The genus Gaultheria is distributed in eastern Asia and Japan (32 spp), Malesia (24 spp), Australia, Tasmania and New Zealand (10 spp). North America (5 spp), and Central and South America (ca 85 spp) (Sleumer, 1967). Six species have been reported as occurring in the area of the Guayana Highland. Gaultheria roraimae Kl. ex Meissner, however, is of doubtful status, and since no specimens have been seen it is excluded from the present treatment. The genus is in sore need of monographic treatment. At this time no key is available for the genus as a whole.
The intergeneric relationships of Gaultheria are not completely understood. As was mentioned earlier, Pernettya is very closely related to Gaultheria, and may represent one extreme in an evolutionary line which includes Gaultheria. In another evolutionary line, some authors (Airy-Shaw, 1940; and Wood, 1961) have stated that Gaultheria represents a type advanced beyond Leucothoe—a type "adapted for seed-dispersal by the agency of birds" (Airy-Shaw, 1940).