Mitchella repens (Partridgeberry)

Plant Info
Also known as: Two-eyed Berry, Twin Berry
Genus:Mitchella
Family:Rubiaceae (Madder)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:native
Habitat:part shade, sun; dry to moist. sandy soil, rich woods, rocky outcrops
Bloom season:June - July
Plant height:4 to 12 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: FAC MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 4-petals Flower shape: tubular

[photo of flowers] Flowers are in pairs at the end of a stem. Individual flowers are 1/3 to ½ inch across, with a long slender tube and typically 4 pointed flaring lobes, rarely with 3, 5 or 6 lobes. The inner surfaces of the flower are densely covered in white fuzz. Flowers have 2 forms on different plants (heterostylic), one with 4 long pinkish stamens and a short pistil hidden in the tube, the other a long white pistil with the stamens hidden in the tube. In both cases, the ovaries of both flowers are fused at the base so a single fruit with 2 “eyes” develops.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: opposite Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are evergreen, round to egg shaped, ½ to ¾ inch long, with a waxy surface, smooth edges, a whitish midrib and short leaf stalk, oppositely attached. Slender, smooth stems spread along the ground, rooting at leaf nodes and forming large mats. Individual stems can be up to 12 inches long.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of fruit] A single bright red berry about 1/3 inch across forms from a pair of flowers, containing 8 seeds.

Notes:

Partridgeberry is not common to run across and like many wildflowers the bloom period is relatively short. It is not one of those species you go looking for but rather an unexpected happenstance.  One of the sites had a very large mat that was apparent in it's dark green mass from a considerable distance and recognizing it we returned later in the season for the bloom period. The other site had just a little clump on the northside of a large oak as I was wandering along and I could have easily passed by—I was unable to relocate it in subsequent years. Big and showy flowers can be big and showy but tiny and exquisite flowers are simply delightful.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken at two Scientific and Natural Areas in Anoka and Washington counties.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: David - Willam O'Brien State Park, Marine on St. Croix
on: 2015-08-24 10:24:35

There was a patch about 15' by 10' near the Riverside Trail.

Posted by: Karen Schik
on: 2020-04-21 08:16:58

Very abundant at Straight Lake Park in WI

Posted by: Frank@mound - Maple Plain
on: 2021-02-22 11:50:36

I believe we have this (can it be confused with anything else?) growing in our Maple-Basswood mixed (oaks declining) woods. it grows in two spots. At the edge of a slope where red oaks have been succumbing to wilt and falling and another spot, just below the road, on a slope, under mature oaks. Less of a patch, it is spreading in linear manner out from a center. The one spot is total shade, the other gets sun now due to fallen oaks. That spot has introduced invasives and natives growing in the new found sun.

Posted by: K. Chayka
on: 2021-02-22 15:44:12

Frank, if you've seen any flowers or fruits that would confirm the ID. If you're correct, that would be a new county record and a specimen should be collected for the Bell Herbarium.

Posted by: Frank@mound - Maple Plain
on: 2021-03-12 15:41:37

Well, sad, but I believe I finally got an ID on this woodland plant -I think its Euonymus fortunei, and I will now have to pull it along with everything else. Never ending. I pulled buckthorn today and I found the said plant to be growing almost too comfortably with the buckthorn. So there you have it.

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