Mitchella repens L.
Margins of wet pine savannas (VWLPS) and adjacent swamps.
Infrequent. May–Jun ; Jun–Jul . Thornhill 835, 1262 (NCSC). Specimens seen in the vicinity: Sandy Run [RMK]: Taggart SARU 133 (WNC!). [= RAB, Weakley]
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Regularity: Regularly occurring
Regularity: Regularly occurring
States. It ranges from Newfoundland south to central Florida and from
southern Ontario and Minnesota south to eastern Texas [4,5,22,24,31].
Occurrence in North America
KY ME MD MA MI MN MS MO NH NJ
NY NC OH OK PA SC TN TX VT VA
WV WI NB NF NS ON PQ
Partridgeberry is a creeping, rhizomatous, evergreen, woody vine up to
1.5 feet (50 cm) tall. It roots at the nodes and often forms loose
mats. The flowers are borne in axillary, single stalks at the tip of
the branchlets. The fruit is a drupe containing eight seeds
Range and Habitat in Illinois
Partridgeberry grows on a variety of sites but generally prefers mildly
acidic, well-drained mesic soils [1,17] It grows on leached banks,
shaded sandstone ledges, and mossy hammocks and bogs [4,10,11].
In addition to those identified under Distribution and Occurrence,
common associates of partridgeberry include red mulberry (Morus rubra),
strawberry-bush (Euonymus americanus), Carolina silverberry (Halesia
carolina), southern black-haw (Viburnum prunifolium), devil's
walkingstick (Aralia spinosa), Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus
quinquefolia), Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), yaupon (Ilex
vomitoria), huckleberry (Gaylussacia spp.), blueberry (Vaccinium spp.),
hickory (Carya spp.), grape (Vitis spp.), wintergreen (Gaultheria
procumbens), and fetterbush (Lyonia ferruginea) [3,4,16,26]. A complete
list of trees associated with partridgeberry would include a majority of
trees growing in the eastern United States.
Key Plant Community Associations
Partridgeberry is part of the climax undergrowth vegetation in several
forest communities in the eastern United States. It is not an indicator
or dominant species in any habitat types [12,16,21,26].
Habitat: Cover Types
This species is known to occur in association with the following cover types (as classified by the Society of American Foresters):
More info for the term: hardwood
14 Northern pin oak
17 Pin cherry
19 Gray birch - red maple
20 White pine - northern red oak - red maple
21 Eastern white pine
22 White pine - hemlock
23 Eastern hemlock
25 Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch
28 Black cherry - maple
31 Red spruce - sugar maple - beech
43 Bear oak
44 Chestnut oak
51 White pine - chestnut oak
52 White oak - black oak - northern red oak
53 White oak
55 Northern red oak
59 Yellow-poplar - white oak - northern red oak
60 Beech - sugar maple
62 Silver maple - American elm
64 Sassafras - persimmon
80 Loblolly pine - shortleaf pine
82 Loblolly pine - hardwood
83 Longleaf pine - slash pine
93 Sugarberry - American elm - green ash
97 Atlantic white-cedar
108 Red maple
110 Black oak
Habitat: Plant Associations
This species is known to occur in association with the following plant community types (as classified by Küchler 1964):
K095 Great Lakes pine forest
K096 Northeastern spruce - fir forest
K097 Southeastern spruce - fir forest
K100 Oak - hickory forest
K101 Elm - ash forest
K102 Beech - maple forest
K104 Appalachian oak forest
K106 Northern hardwoods
K111 Oak - hickory - pine forest
K112 Southern mixed forest
K113 Southern floodplain forest
This species is known to occur in the following ecosystem types (as named by the U.S. Forest Service in their Forest and Range Ecosystem [FRES] Type classification):
FRES10 White - red - jack pine
FRES11 Spruce - fir
FRES12 Longleaf - slash pine
FRES13 Loblolly - shortleaf pine
FRES14 Oak - pine
FRES15 Oak - hickory
FRES16 Oak - gum - cypress
FRES17 Elm - ash - cottonwood
FRES18 Maple - beech - birch
FRES19 Aspen - birch
Flower-Visiting Insects of Partridge Berry in Illinois
(bumblebees suck nectar; observations are from Hicks et al.)
Apidae (Bombini): Bombus impatiens sn, Bombus vagans sn
Broad-scale Impacts of Plant Response to Fire
The Research Project Summary Effects of surface fires in a mixed red and
eastern white pine stand in Michigan provides information on prescribed
fire and postfire response of plant community species, including
partridgeberry, that was not available when this species review was written.
Plant Response to Fire
Partridgeberry's response to fire is not well documented. Reports in
the literature suggest that it is a fire decreaser, although postfire
density, frequency, or growth rates for partridgeberry were not given
Immediate Effect of Fire
Most fires probably top-kill partridgeberry, and severe fires may kill
Rhizomatous low woody plant, rhizome in organic mantle
Partridgeberry is not well adapted to fire. The rhizomes are usually in
the litter layer and not well protected from fire [6,18]. However,
protected and underground rhizomes probably sprout following fire.
Partridgeberry probably colonizes burned area by animal-dispersed seed
or by trailing vines, but these regeneration strategies have not been
documented in the literature.
More info for the term: climax
Facultative Seral Species
Partridgeberry is a shade tolerant, mid- to late-seral species. It is a
component of climax forests in the eastern United States [3,16,26].
Growth Form (according to Raunkiær Life-form classification)
Life History and Behavior
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Mitchella repens
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Mitchella repens
Public Records: 4
Specimens with Barcodes: 6
Species With Barcodes: 1
National NatureServe Conservation Status
Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked
Rounded National Status Rank: N5 - Secure
Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems
Other uses and values
range . In Newfoundland, the berry is made into jam and sold
Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
bobwhite, sharp-tailed grouse, and prairie chicken. The fruit is also
frequently eaten by raccoons and red fox [5,28]. Keegan  reported
that partridgeberry made up 2.9 to 3.4 percent (dry weight) of the
summer and fall diets of white-tailed deer.
Mitchella repens, or partridge berry, or Squaw Vine, is the best known plant in the genus Mitchella. It is a creeping prostrate herbaceous woody shrub, occurring in North America and Japan, and belonging to the madder family (Rubiaceae).
Mitchella repens is one of the many species first described by Carl Linnaeus. Its species name is the Latin adjective repens "creeping". Common names for Mitchella repens include partridge berry (or partridgeberry), squaw berry, two-eyed berry, running fox, and Noon kie oo nah yeah (in the Mohawk language).
Partridge berry is an evergreen plant growing as a non-climbing vine, no taller than 6 cm tall with creeping stems 15 to 30 cm long. The evergreen, dark green, shiny leaves are ovate to cordate in shape. The leaves have a pale yellow midrib. The petioles are short, and the leaves are paired oppositely on the stems. Adventitious roots may grow at the nodes; and rooting stems may branch and root repeatedly, producing loose spreading mats.
The small, trumpet-shaped, axillary flowers are produced in pairs, and each flower pair arises from one common calyx which is covered with fine hairs. Each flower has four white petals, one pistil, and four stamens. Partridge Berry is a distylous taxa. The plants have either flowers with long pistils and short stamens (long-styled flowers, called the pin), or have short pistils and long stamens (short-styled flowers, called the thrum). The two style morphs are genetically determined, so the pollen from one morph does not fertilize the other morph, resulting in a form of heteromorphic self-incompatibility.
The ovaries of the twin flowers fuse, so that there are two flowers for each berry. The two bright red spots on each berry are vestiges of this process. The fruit ripens between July and October, and may persist through the winter. The fruit is a drupe containing up to eight seeds. The fruits are never abundant. They may be part of the diets of several birds, such as ruffed grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, northern bobwhite, and wild turkey. They are also consumed by foxes, white-footed mice, and skunks. The foliage is occasionally consumed by White-tailed deer.
The common reproduction is vegetative, with plants forming spreading colonies.
Distribution and habitat
The species is dispersed throughout eastern North America, from south Eastern Canada south to Florida and Texas, and to Guatemala. It is found growing in dry or moist woods, along stream banks and on sandy slopes.
Cultivation and uses
Mitchella repens is cultivated for its ornamental red berries and shiny, bright green foliage. It is grown as a creeping ground cover in shady locations. It is rarely propagated for garden use by way of seeds but cuttings are easy. The plants have been widely collected for Christmas decorations, and over collecting has impacted some local populations negatively. American Indian women made a tea from the leaves and berries that was consumed during childbirth. The plants are sometimes grown in terrariums. The scarlet berries are edible but rather tasteless, with a faint flavour of wintergreen, resembling cranberries (to which they are not closely related).
- Peterson, Roger Tory, and McKenny, Margaret. A Field Guide to Wildflowers of Northeastern and North-central North America. ISBN 0-395-91172-9.
- MacKenzie, David, S. Perennial Ground Covers. ISBN 0-88192-557-8.
- Hutchens, Alma R. Indian Herbalogy of North America. ISBN 0-87773-639-1.
- Hall, Joan Houston (2002). Dictionary of American Regional English. Harvard University Press. p. 47. ISBN 0-674-00884-7. Retrieved 2007-11-16.
- Nathaniel Lord Britton; Addison Brown (1913). An illustrated flora of the northern United States, Canada and the British possessions: from Newfoundland to the parallel of the southern boundary of Virginia, and from the Atlantic Ocean westward to the 102d meridian. C. Scribner's sons. pp. 255–. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
- Reproductive Biology of Distylous Partridgeberry, Mitchella repens. David J. Hicks, Robert Wyatt and Thomas R. Meagher Vol. 72, No. 10 (Oct., 1985), pp. 1503-1514 Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2443300
- Fecundity in Distylous and Self-Incompatible Homostylous Plants of Mitchella repens (Rubiaceae) Fred R. Ganders Vol. 29, No. 1 (Mar., 1975), pp. 186-188 Published by: Society for the Study of Evolution Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2407152
- Alexander Campbell Martin; Herbert Spencer Zim; Arnold L. Nelson (1951). American wildlife & plants: a guide to wildlife food habits; the use of trees, shrubs, weeds, and herbs by birds and mammals of the United States. Courier Dover Publications. pp. 361–. ISBN 978-0-486-20793-3. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
- Marie Harrison (30 March 2006). Groundcovers for the South. Pineapple Press Inc. pp. 76–. ISBN 978-1-56164-347-9. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
- James Howard Miller; Karl V. Miller (May 2005). Forest plants of the Southeast and their wildlife uses. University of Georgia Press. pp. 280–. ISBN 978-0-8203-2748-8. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
- Wolfram George Schmid (13 September 2002). An encyclopedia of shade perennials. Timber Press. pp. 243–. ISBN 978-0-88192-549-4. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
- William Cullina (18 March 2000). New England Wildflower Society guide to growing and propagating wildflowers of the United States and Canada. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. pp. 148–. ISBN 978-0-395-96609-9. Retrieved 4 September 2010.
Names and Taxonomy
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