|Monday Melange: Partridgeberry|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Monday, 24 December 2012|
The partridgeberry (Mitchella repens) aka partridge berry is a native groundcover plant that is indigenous to forests throughout the eastern US, its range extending across to Wisconsin and Missouri and south to Florida and across to Texas. A member of the Madder family (Rubiaceae) family, it is hardy in USDA zones 3 to 8.
In the wild partridgeberry grows in pine and hemlock woodlands along streams and bogs typically where soils are sandy. The fragrant small funnel-shaped white to pale pink flowers of partridgeberry bloom from May through July, but it is the berries that make partridgeberry an outstanding groundcover plant, particularly in woodland gardens or tree and shrub borders where it will naturalize. It is also shade tolerant and evergreen.
Although it grows only 2 inches high, it spreads by 12-inch long trailing stems forming large mats. The tiny red berries ripen in late summer and contrast nicely with the dark green glossy oval-shaped leaves. Interestingly the flowers bloom in pairs and each pair leads to a single berry, hence the common name twin berry that is sometimes used. The berries often persist through winter and are edible but lacking in a distinct taste. The partridgeberry is listed as threatened in Iowa.