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Mitchella repens

Mitchella repens L.

 

Partridgeberry, Partrigeberry

Family: Rubiaceae

About plant names...

Partridgeberry is a common North American native. The genus, Mitchella, was assigned by Linnaeus himself to honor Dr. John Mitchell, the physician who developed a treatment for yellow fever.

Identification: This very low-lying, rather delicate vine is rarely more than 2" (5 cm) in height and up to 12" (30 cm) long. The stems can form new plants, leading to larger colonies. Leaves are opposite and oval or heart-shaped, about ½" (1.3 cm) long, with a prominent light green central vein. Each leaf is dark and shiny on top, pale and yellowish below. Flowers are tubular, with four sharp-tipped petals, white or slightly pink, ½-¾" (1.3-1.9 cm) long and ⅜" (9.5 mm) in diameter. They appear from May to July. One red, misshapen berry ¼-½" (6.3-12 mm) in diameter—actually two fused berries—grows for each pair of flowers. The berries and foliage of this evergreen last throughout the winter. Each berry contains 8 seeds.

Thanks to Hélène Boulianne for correctly identifying these, which were originally identified as the similar-appearing Gaultheria procumbens.

 

Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry, Partrigeberry)

9/13/2009 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm)

Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry, Partrigeberry)

4/27/2013 · Bemis Rd, Townsend, MA
≈ 4 × 4" (10 × 10 cm)

Here is a comparison of the two:

 
Gaultheria procumbens
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Mitchella repens
Common Name

Creeping Wintergreen

Partridgeberry
Plant Low, spreading plant, typically 4-6" (10-15 cm) tall, sometimes as low as 1" (2.5 cm). Low-lying vine is rarely more than 2" (5 cm) in height and up to 12" (30 cm) long.
Flowers Flowers are about ¼" (6.3 mm) long, white, urn-shaped, resembling blueberry flowers. Tubular, with four sharp-tipped petals, white or slightly pink, ½-¾" (1.3-1.9 cm) long and ⅜" (9.5 mm) in diameter. They appear from May to July.
Leaves Oval, evergreen, dark in color, ¾-1¾" (2-5 cm) long and ⅜-¾" (1-2 cm) across. When broken, the leaves smell of wintergreen. Opposite and oval or heart-shaped, about ½" (1.3 cm) long, with a prominent light green central vein. Each leaf is dark and shiny on top, pale and yellowish below.
Fruit Fruits are bright red, round, ¼-½" (6.3-12 mm) in diameter, and hard (like an apple). One red, misshapen berry ¼-½" (6.3-12 mm) in diameter—actually two fused berries—grows for each pair of flowers.
Range/ Zones

Type Wild Wild

 

Edibility: Some indigenous Americans made a tea from the leaves. The berries are edible but nearly tasteless, with a barely perceptible hint of wintergreen and a touch of cranberry.

Online References:

Mitchella repens on Carolina Nature, from Will Cook

Mitchella repens on Missouriplants.com

Mitchella repens at the U.S. Forest Service Celebrating Wildflowers site

Mitchella repens at the Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation

Mitchella repens on the Connecticut Botanical Society's Connecticut wildflowers site

Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry, Partrigeberry)

6/7/2010 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm)

Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry, Partrigeberry)

10/22/2009 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 8 × 5" (19 × 13 cm)

Mitchella repens description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.

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Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry, Partrigeberry)

6/15/2012 · Townsend State Forest, Townsend, MA
≈ 1½ × 1½" (4.1 × 3.8 cm)

Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry, Partrigeberry)

8/20/2009 · Hayes Woods Nature Trail, Shirley St., Pepperell, MA
≈ 9 × 6" (23 × 15 cm)

Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry, Partrigeberry)

6/7/2010 · Tom and Susan’s, Pepperell, MA
≈ 5 × 3½" (13 × 9.2 cm)

Range:

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