Subshrub ID: Partridge-berry

Photo of Partridge-berry Flowers

A common evergreen groundcover in the pine and oak forests near my home is a plant called Partridge-berry (Mitchella repens). This subshrub is recognized by mats of paired, white-veined leaves and sparse red fruits that ripen in summer but can persist into the following year. Each fruit has two small eye-like depressions -- lasting evidence of the paired flowers that preceded fruiting. Though essentially tasteless, these small fleshy drupes are edible. I often sample one or two when I encounter a healthy population.

Photo of Partridge-berry Fruit

Note: Top photo taken in July, bottom photo in December. Find more Partridge-berry photos and info at the New England Wildflower Society's Go Botany site.

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