Foraging Pittsburgh

Wild Food Walks, Workshops, & Guided Nature Hikes

Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens) — An Edible & Medicinal Creeper

Leave a comment

partridgeberryFLWlearnyourland

You’d never guess it, though these two flowers will seemingly produce one fruit.  This is partridge berry (Mitchella repens), a member of the coffee family and a species whose evergreen leaves form dense mats on forest floors throughout Pennsylvania.  Both flowers must be pollinated in order for fruits to emerge.  After successful fertilization, the two flowers’ ovaries fuse and mature into a single red berry.  Look closely at a single fruit sometime this autumn and you’ll see two dimples on each one; these are spots where the petals were attached.

Partridge berry is named after the ruffed grouse, a relative of the European partridge and an animal who enjoys this fruit almost as much as I do.  “Mitchella” is named after Dr. John Mitchell, a plant collector who lived in Virginia and who was a friend of Carl Linnaeus (yes… the Carl Linnaeus).  “Repens” means “creeping,” describing the growth habit of the plant.

Partridge berry is edible, and while the fruits don’t have much of a taste, I still enjoy snacking on them when walking the trails (it’s all about the wild plant genetics).  Medicinally, partridge berry has been used successfully as a parturient to aid in childbirth.

This particular wildflower is a bit difficult to witness in bloom, though the plant itself is easy to find.  Check it out on your next jaunt through the forest!  I can only imagine you’ll be glad you did.

Advertisements

Author: Adam

Wild foodist

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s