Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Spotlight on Partidgeberry

This delightful little native, Mitchella repens, an easily overlooked evergreen groundcover in North American forests, goes by the common names patridgeberry or twinberry.

It produces teeny little flowers that occur in pairs from a shared calyx. They start off as little pink buds:

The flowers become white as they mature and open (only about ½" long). They have a perfect way to prevent self fertilization - one of the flowers has a long pistil and short stamens, and the other has the opposite arrangement: a short pistil and long stamens. It's quite difficult to see clearly when the flower is all white, as in this capture, but if you look closely, a long pistil is visible on the left hand bloom, but not on the other.

Another amazing feature of this plant is that BOTH flowers must be fertilized in order to produce ONE berry, since they are actually formed from one shared base.

Indigenous people's use and knowledge of plants has always fascinated me, so I'm including this nugget: First Nations women drank a tea from the leaves and berries during childbirth.

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