poetry and prose about place

Posts Tagged ‘Mitchella repens

Partridge-berry (Mitchella repens L.)

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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.

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.)



Running Fox


a glimpse of red

between hairmoss and hummock

the fox slips into shrewd spaces

seeks the vacant way





a twist and a Twin-berry

trail woven and worn

mottled and mid-ribbed

Mitchella meanders

over feathermoss, under fern





Ruffed Grouse pokes and pecks

tucks a Two-eyed Berry in his crop

lurches on



©  Jane Tims  2012

cascade across the rock

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Earlier this summer, in July, we visited Little Sheephouse Falls, northwest of Miramichi.  The Falls are part of the watershed of the South Branch of the Big Sevogle River.

To see Little Sheephouse Falls requires a short hike through mixed woods.  The trail to the Falls is very well maintained by the forest company who manages the area and was an easy walk in spite of my arthritic knees. 

The woods were green with ferns and other woodland plants.  My favourite of these was a little vine of Mitchella repens L. cascading across a lichened rock.  Commonly known as Partidge-berry, Mitchella is a small vine with roundish opposite leaves, often found growing in shady, mossy woods.  It has pinkish flowers and small red berries.  The Flora I consulted says it is found where it can be free from the competition of more vigorous plants.

Mitchella repens growing across a rock in the woods

We did not go to the base of the falls, but kept to the trails navigating the escarpment.  The falls are about 20 meters high, with a large pool and a cave at the base.  They were a white torrent on the day we visited, making a rumbling thunder in striking contrast to the quiet woods.

Little Sheephouse Falls

Directions to Little Sheephouse Falls, and other waterfalls in New Brunswick, are contained at Nicholas Guitard’s website and in his 2009 book Waterfalls of New Brunswick (see ‘books about natural spaces’).

Waterfalls are spaces to soothe the soul and inspire love for natural areas.  They engage the senses… the sounds of the gurgling stream and the roar of the waterfall, the feel of cool, clean water, and the sight of water bubbling and boiling, following the contours of the landscape. 


the three fates, spinning



wound on the rock

mended by waterfall thread



at last I touch

the water

real, wet water

(not a report or diagram

but the flavor feel and smell

of water)


it pours through my fingers

delivers to me

the mosses

the lichens

(the moth on the pin where she has always

wanted to be)



the doe must feel this

as she crosses

the road-to-nowhere

when the birch and aspen enfold her


or the ant

as she maps the labyrinth

on the rotting morel

when she touches the ground

(blessed ground)


or the needles of white pine

when they find the note

split the wind into song



the three fates



the waterfall

diverted by the rock

Published as: “the three fates, spinning”,  The Antigonish Review 165, Spring 2011.


© Jane Tims

needles of white pine...split the wind into song

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