nichepoetryandprose

poetry and prose about place

Partridge-berry (Mitchella repens L.)

with 6 comments


One of the evergreen plants in the spring woodland is a little vine called Partridge-berry.  It trails, low to the ground, in shady, mossy woods, sometimes covering moist banks and hummocks with its shiny greenery.

Partridge-berry (Mitchella repens L.) is also known as Twinberry, Snakevine, Running Fox and Two-eyed Berry. The word repens is from the Latin for ‘creeping’.

The leaves of Partridge-berry are small, ovoid and opposite on a vine-like stem.  The leaves have a bright yellow midrib and veins, giving them a clear outline against the background of dry leaves.

The flowers are white or pinkish, and bell-shaped.  They occur in pairs – the two flowers are closely united at the base, sharing a single calyx.  As a result, the bright red berries are two-eyed, each showing two blossom scars.

This time of year, in July, Partridge-berry has flowered and set its berries.  The berries are dry and seedy but edible, with a slightly aromatic flavour.  They are a good nibble along the trail or can be used as emergency food.  The berries are ordinarily eaten by birds, such as the Ruffed Grouse.

Warning:
1. never eat any plant if you are not absolutely certain of the identification;
2. never eat any plant if you have personal sensitivities, including allergies, to certain plants or their derivatives;
3. never eat any plant unless you have checked several sources to verify the edibility of the plant.

~

~

common names

( Mitchella repens L.)

~

1.

Running Fox

~

a glimpse of red

between hairmoss and hummock

the fox slips into shrewd spaces

seeks the vacant way

~

2.

Snakevine

~

a twist and a Twin-berry

trail woven and worn

mottled and mid-ribbed

Mitchella meanders

over feathermoss, under fern

~

3.

Partridge-berry

~

Ruffed Grouse pokes and pecks

tucks a Two-eyed Berry in his crop

lurches on

~

~

©  Jane Tims  2012

6 Responses

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  1. I love this:

    “the fox slips into shrewd spaces
    seeks the vacant way”

    The plant looks so small and not easily spotted.

    Like

    Robin

    July 24, 2012 at 5:27 pm

    • Hi. The flowers are sometimes even harder to spot. We only have one little section of vine on our property so I guard it well! Jane

      Like

      jane tims

      July 24, 2012 at 10:35 pm

  2. I love the lines “slips into shrewd places
    seeks the vacant way.” What a perfect capture of the way wild creatures move about. I really enjoyed this blog.

    Like

    Carol Steel

    July 20, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    • Hi Carol. Thanks for the specific comment on my poem… it helps to know what ‘works’. We have been watching a family of foxes not far from our cabin, and they certainly know how to elude observation! Jane

      Like

      jane tims

      July 20, 2012 at 5:01 pm

  3. I saw these last June….when the berries were being formed and they do, indeed have two “eyes”… It’s a lovely little plant too.

    Like

    snowbirdpress

    July 18, 2012 at 10:10 pm


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