Family: Winteraceae

Drimys winteri is a large evergreen shrub native to the rainforests of Chile and Argentina. At first you will notice the explosion of creamy white flowers and the clusters of pink and green buds from which they emerge. The flowers are striking against the mass of green elongate leaves which dangle from blush twigs into the Compost Yard and stretch high to mingle with the Weeping Beech (Fagus sylvatica ‘Pendula’) behind you.

Also known as Winter’s Bark, after Captain John Wynter who accompanied Sir Francis Drake on his voyage around the world, this plant prevented the deaths of Wynter’s ailing crew from scurvy. He sent a boat in search of medicine and returned to him was the bark of Drimys.

Drimys, the Greek word for acrid, describes the taste of the smooth brown-grey bark you see in front of you. The bark of this plant, later discovered to be rich in Vitamin C, was steeped in honey and cured everybody on board Wynter’s ship. The naturalist Johann Reinhold Forster thereafter dubbed the plant ‘winteri’ in honour of Captain Wynter.

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Heralding Spring Trail Map