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Mitchella repens L.

Partridge Berry

Modern name

Mitchella repens L.

An evergreen, creeping, half-woody plant scarcely reaching above the ground; young shoots wiry, squarish, with traces of down when quite young. Leaves opposite, glabrous, dark glossy green, ovate to roundish, rounded at the apex, truncate or slightly heart-shaped at the base, 14 to 58 (sometimes 78) in. long and wide; stalk scarcely so long as the blade, downy on the upper side when quite young; stipules minute. Flowers fragrant, opening during June and July at the end of the shoot in scarcely stalked, erect pairs. Corolla up to 12 in. long, tubular at the base, dividing at the top into four spreading ovate lobes which are hairy inside and give the flower a diameter of about 38 in., white, often tinged with purple; calyx small, four-toothed; stamens four. Fruits globose, about 14 in. wide, scarlet, formed by the union of the two ovaries, the two calyces persisting at the top, carrying normally eight seeds.

Native of eastern and central N. America from Nova Scotia to Florida and westwards to Texas; introduced by John Bartram about 1761. It is very hardy, loves some shade, and is suitable for a moist spot in the rock garden. As its prostrate branches root freely as they lie, it is easily increased by division, also by cuttings. A pleasing little plant, perhaps scarcely woody enough to justify inclusion here, very much resembling Linnaea borealis in its creeping habit, small leaves, and twin flowers, but the latter belongs to the honeysuckle family, has the parts of its flower in fives, and the blossoms are borne at the top of a thread­like stalk as much as 3 in. long.

f. leucocarpa Bissell has white fruits.



Other species in the genus