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This genus commemorates Antoine Joseph Pernetty, the historian of Bougainville’s voyage to the Falkland Isles, the Straits of Magellan, and other parts of S. America (1763-4). He was born in 1716 and died at Avignon in 1801. Pernettya, represented in Tasmania and New Zealand as well as in Central and S. America, is closely allied to Gaultheria. In that genus, however, the ovary develops into a dehiscent capsule, while in Pernettya it becomes fleshy and does not dehisce. In Gaultheria the calyx becomes fleshy and enlarged, almost enclosing the capsule and united with it; in Pernettya too the calyx becomes fleshy in the majority of species, but it does not enlarge so much as in Gaultheria and is not united to the fruit. However, the difference, such as it is, is not very clear cut, and the two genera are likely to be united before long, under the name Gaultheria, which has priority.
The distribution of sexes in wild plants has not been studied in detail. So far as the cultivated species are concerned, Dr Stoker found that those with fleshy calyces, namely P. tasmanica, P. macrostigma, P. prostrata, and P. furens, bear bisexual flowers and produce fruits even if only one individual is grown, while P. mucronata P. leucocarpa, and P. pumila are functionally dioecious and will not set fruit without a pollinator. But see further under P. mucronata.