Monday Melange: Trailing Arbutus
Written by Heleigh Bostwick    Monday, 13 February 2012
Trailing arbutus

Trailing arbutus (Epigaea repens) is a low growing evergreen shrub native to the eastern half of North America. Its range extending from the northern reaches of Quebec Province south to Florida and across to Mississippi and north to Manitoba. A member of the Heath plant family (Ericaceae)--the same family as rhododendron, azalea, bearberry, blueberry, and cranberry--and it is hardy between USDA Zones 3 and 9. Trailing arbutus also goes by the names of Mayflower, ground laurel, and mountain pink.

Trailing arbutus is often grown for its fragrant flowers of trailing arbutus are white to pink in color blooming in early to late spring, typically March to May. This low growing shrub forms a dense mat approximately 4 to 6 inches high and two feet across and is ideal as a groundcover in a forested woodland, under a rhododendron and azalea shrub border, a shaded alpine rock garden, or anywhere there is acidic soil and shade. The dark green leaves are 1 to 3 inches long with a leathery texture similar to that of rhododendrons. The fruit is a white berry-like fruit.

Trailing arbutus is listed as endangered in Florida and exploitably vulnerable in New York. Trailing arbutus may be difficult to find at nurseries but is available at Lazy SS Farm (plants are listed by the Latin name so look for Epigaea repens).

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