A creeping, evergreen shrub reaching only 4 to 6 in. above the ground, the slender hairy stems rooting at intervals. Leaves leathery, alternate, ovate-oblong, with a heart-shaped base and a round or short-pointed apex, 1 to 3 in. long, 3⁄4 to 2 in. wide, of a rather dark glossy green, rough and sprinkled with short bristles on both surfaces and at the margin; leaf-stalk 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long, hairy. Flowers produced in April, four to six together in a dense terminal head about 1 in. across, furnished at the base with green, hairy, lanceolate bracts. Corolla tubular, 5⁄8 in. long, with five spreading, roundish ovate lobes, making it about 1⁄2 in. across at the mouth, woolly within; white or rosy tinted; calyx-lobes lanceolate, glabrous, half as long as the corolla, green.
Native of eastern N. America, from Canada to Georgia. It is abundant near Plymouth, in Massachusetts, where the Pilgrim Fathers landed in 1620. By them, tradition says, it was named after their own famous vessel. It is said to have been introduced to Britain in 1736, but, owing to the difficulty experienced in cultivating it, has never become common. Although capable of withstanding any frost experienced in this country, it misses its native covering of snow, and is excited into premature growth by our mild winters only to be cut off by later frost. It likes a peaty soil; in the Knap Hill nursery it throve admirably on the shady side of a clump of rhododendrons but died out during the war years. On the other hand, I have seen it equally good in the botanic garden at Dresden in full sun; but there the climate is not dissimilar to that of its native home. The best success in Britain has been attained by giving it the shelter of a handlight in late winter, and during frosty nights in spring. Propagated by layers.