Family • Ericacea - Gaultheria cumingiana S. Vidal - WHOLE MOUNTAIN FRAGRANT - Pai-chu Shu

Scientific names

Gaultheria cumingiana Vidal
Gaultheria leucocarpa Blume
G, leucocarpa Blume var. crenulata Kurz
G, leucocarpa var cumingiana (Vidal) TZ Hsu
Gaultheria crenulata Kurz
Brossaea leucocarpa (Blume) O. Kuntze

Common names

Idsa (Ig.)
Kaluminga (Ig.)
Logauai (Bag.)
Taliktuk (Ig.)
Uakuakei (Bon.)
Cuming’s wintergreen (Engl.)
Common gaultheria (Engl.)
Whole mountain fragrant (Engl.)

Other vernacular names

CHINESE: Bai zhu shu.
FRENCH: Petit the des pois.
INDONESIAN: Gondopuro, Kering, Cantigi bodas.
THAILAND: Chamayomdoi.
VIETNAMESE: Ch[aa]u th[uj].

Idsa is a small shrub growing to a height of 30 cm to 2 meters, prostrate, erect or climbing in habit. Leaves are ovate or lanceolate, 2 to 7 centimeters long, 1 to 2 centimeters wide, pointed at the tip, rounded or somewhat heart-shaped at the base, with toothed margins. Flowers are small, 3 to 5 millimeters across, borne on racemes at the axils of the leaves. Calyx is cup-shaped, the lobes ovate, triangular and ciliate, Corolla is bell-shaped, 3 to 6 millimeters long, with 5 blunt and recurved lobes about 1.5 millimeters long. Fruit is a capsule, rounded, 4 to 7 millimeters in diameter. Edible portion is the dark-blue, fleshy and enlarged calyx. Seeds are numerous.


– In thickets, ravines, and sometimes on open slopes at altitudes from 1,300 to 2,400 meters in Bontoc, Lepanto, Benguet, Quezon, Laguna; in Mindoro, Negros and Mindanao.
– Also occurs in Taiwan.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Gaultherin, a natural salicylate derivative from Gaultheria yunnanensis: Towards a better non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug / Bin Zhang, Xiao-Li He et al / European Journal of Pharmacology, Volume 530, Issues 1–2, 13 January 2006, Pages 166–171 /,

(2) Screening of anti-bacterial activity of extracts of Gaultheria leucocarpa var. yunnanensis / X J Ma, L Zhao, C F Du, Y J Gong, J H Zheng, X Z Chen / China journal of Chinese materia medica (2001), Volume: 26, Issue: 4, Pages: 223-226

(3) Study on antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic activities of Gaultheria yunnanensis / Zhang Zhizhen; Guo Dean; Li Changling / NORTHWEST PHARMACEUTICAL JOURNAL, 1999-02/ DOI:cnki:ISSN:1004-2407.0.1999-02-010

(4) Gaultheria leucocarpa Blume / Vernacular names/ GLOBinMED

(5) Studies on resources of ethnomedicine Gaultheria leucocarpa var. yunnanensis / Ma XJ, Zheng JH, Chen XZ. / Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2001 Feb;26(2):85-9.

(6) Simultaneous determination of active ingredients in ethnomedicine Gaultheria leucocarpa var. yunnanensis and its medicinal preparation by capillary electrophoresis with electrochemical detection. / Zeng Y, Tang Z, Wang Q, He P, Fang Y. / J Chromatogr Sci. 2007 Oct;45(9):610-5.


– Leaf contains gaultherin, an essential oil, resembling the odor of wintergreen from the North American species, Gaultheria procumbens.
– Study of G. yunnanensis yielded two methyl salicylter glycosides, viz., methyl benzoate-2-O-β-D-xylopyranosyl(1-6)-O-β-D- gluco-pyranoside (J12122) and methyl benzoate-2-O-β-D-xylopyranosyl(1-2)[O-β-D- xylopyranosyl(1-6)]-O-β-D-glucopyranoside (J12123),
– Stem and roots of Gaultheria leucocarpa var. yunnanensis yielded of seven active ingredients in the stems and roots, including (+)-catechin, rutin, gentisic acid, vallinic acid, salicylic acid, quercetin, and protocatechuic acid.



Parts used and preparation

– Edible portion is the enlarged calyx.


– In the Mountain Province, a decoction of leaves taken as tea, is stomachic.
– In traditional Chinese medicine, used for liver cirrhosis and ascites, traumatic injuries, rheumatoid arthritis, back and joint pains.
– In China, G. leucocarpa var. yunnanensis is used to treat rheumatic arthritis, menstrual problems, cold, cough, asthma, eczema, ascites, wounds, amebic dysentery, prostatitis.

Study Findings
• Gaultherin: Gaultherin, from which methyl salicylate (oil of wintergreen) is released by mild hydrolysis has been reported from this species.
• Chemical Constituents: Study isolated four compounds: n-dotriacontaine and its homologous compound, ursolic acid, vanillic acid, and quercitrin.
• Anti-Inflammatory / Methyl Salicylate Glycosides: Study Gaultheria yunnanensis isolated two methyl salicylate glycosides. Both dose-dependently inhibited the production of tumor necrosis factor-a, interleukin-1ß, and IL-6. Results show anti-inflammatory properties through inhibition of production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, NO, and ROS.
• Gaultherin / Anti-Inflammatory: Gaultheria yunnanensis has yielded gaultherin, 2-[(6-O-β-d-Xylopyranosyl-β-d-glucopyranosyl)oxy] benzoic acid methyl ester, a natural salicylate derivative , has been shown to have analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. Study suggested gaultherin did not cause gastric ulcer, releasing salicylate in the intestine slowly, not in the stomach, leaving COX-1 unaffected, the source of cytoprotective prostaglandins in gastric epithelium.
• Antibacterial: Extracts of water, acetic ester and n-butanol showed anti-Staphylococcus aureus action, and the extracts from root and stem showed the same result. Two extracts showed activity against Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.
• Antibacterial / Antiinflammatory / Analgesic: The volatile oil of roots of G. yunnanensis showed bacteriostatic activity. Acetate and butyl alcohol extracts exhibited strong anti-inflammatory activities in mice.
Studies on resources of ethnomedicine Gaultheria leucocarpa var. yunnanensis.
 / Ma XJ, Zheng JH, Chen XZ. / Zhongguo Zhong Yao Za Zhi. 2001 Feb;26(2):85-9.